Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher does not think there is blueprint for stopping Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson.
“You are never going to stop a guy like that,” Fisher said on the ACC Coaches Teleconference on Wednesday.
If any head coach should know, it is Jimbo Fisher. Jackson humbled the Seminoles’ defense two weeks ago when he ran for 146 yards and scored four touchdowns, while completing 13 of 20 passes for 216 yards and another score in a 63-20 rout of what was then the No. 2 team in the country.
“Great players are going to get what they get,” Fisher said.
So if No. 3 Clemson can’t stop Jackson, how do they go about slowing him down when the Tigers take on No. 4 Louisville on Saturday in Death Valley?
“You have to do your job. You have to be sound in all phases, and because he can run and you cover all the gaps up front, then you have to cover the receivers because he is a very good thrower,” Fisher said. “I mean, you have to be a very talented team, you have to be very sound in what you do and you have to do it very well.”
Clemson’s defense definitely as the talent with guys like Christian Wilkins, Carlos Watkins, Clelin Ferrell, Dexter Lawrence and Ben Boulware, and they have been very sound though the first four games of the season.
The Tigers are coming off a game in which it held Georgia Tech to 124 total yards and just 95 yards rushing. They rank third nationally in total defense, as well as in the top 10 in just about every defensive category.
“It is been our consistency in preparation,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said about his defenses’ success. “I have been really pleased with … I mean we have had a couple of lapses in the first four games, but not a lot. These guys have been very consistent with their performance, especially with their preparation. That’s the thing I have been really, really pleased with.”
The thing that impresses Louisville head coach Bobby Petrino about the Tigers’ defense is their physicality up front. Clemson has held three of its first four opponents under 100 yards rushing and to just 2.6 yards per carry.
“They will be the biggest defensive ends that we have played and probably will play the entire year,” Petrino said. “They are very physical. Their linebackers are smart and they do a lot of things. They make a lot of adjustments and do a lot of things as far as defending plays, motions and schemes.
“We have to make sure we do a good job blocking the front and take our shots and throw the ball deep.”
But when Jackson gets his hands on the ball, which the quarterback he does on every play, Swinney says they just have to hold their breath.
“He is one of those ‘hold your breath guys’ when he touches it,” Swinney said. “When you are in the business, along the way you will come across those types of guys and he is definitely one of them. When he touches the ball, you hold your breath because he has the ability to change the game or impact the game on one play.”
And like Jimbo Fisher says, it’s not a matter of if it happens, but a matter of when because no one stops a player like Lamar Jackson.