It’s about Lamar Jackson vs. Deshaun Watson.
It’s about Brent Venables vs. Bobby Petrino.
It’s about Clemson’s defensive front vs. Louisville’s offensive line.
It’s about the possible winner of the ACC Atlantic Division title.
Those are all the storylines heading into tonight’ top 5 clash between No. 4 Louisville at No. 3 Clemson at 8 p.m. in Death Valley.
“To have a matchup like this, ESPN College Gameday and all of that stuff, they are all big,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said. “You hear me say that all of the time, but from time to time you get one that has a little more pizazz with it and a little bit of a side show with it.
“That is kind of what this week’s about, I know our fans love that.”
Fans are looking forward to watching Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson against Louisville Lamar Jackson. Watson was all the hype in 2015 as he took the Tigers to the College Football Playoff Championship Game.
Jackson is this year’s hype machine after posting PlayStation like numbers. He has rushed for over 500 yards, thrown for more than 1,300 and has 25 total touchdowns.
“Lamar Jackson is like watching a video game right now,” ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit said. “He is doing things, and everyone is saying is like Michael Vick, but I remember there was a guy named Michael Bishop that played at Kansas State that he reminds me of. It was when the athletic quarterback was just starting to become trendy. Michael Bishop did things that just kind of made you scratch your head, and that’s what this guy is doing.”
But Herbstreit wants to see how Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables does in slowing Jackson down. The Tigers rank third nationally in total defense and are allowing just 11.0 points per game.
“I’m fired up to watch both defenses, but especially Clemson’s,” Herbstreit said. “Everyone always wants to talk about the quarterbacks and the offense because everybody always wants to see points. But, because I watch so many games and so many teams, I like defense.”
Herbstreit’s colleague, Desmond Howard, is looking forward to watching Clemson’s defensive front which features senior Carlos Watkins, sophomore Christian Wilkins and freshman Dexter Lawrence. The Tigers have 13 sacks in four games and 38 tackles for loss.
Last week, Clemson’s defensive front dominated Georgia Tech’s offensive line, holding the Yellow Jackets to 95 yards rushing. Three of the Tigers four opponents have failed to gain 100 yards on the ground.
“That is where they are going to have to butter their bread. Clemson’s front seven is just going to have to play strict disciplined fundamental football,” Howard said.
As for being able to stop Jackson?
“You don’t stop him. You only try to contain him,” Howard said. “When you have a guy with such extraordinary athletic ability and he touches the ball on every play, then you are not going to stop him, you just hope to contain him. That’s the front seven. That’s their job.
“They are going to have to be very disciplined. Depending on what Brent Venables does with his packages, if is a nickel or a dime, they are going to have to be excellent tacklers in space. The only thing a coordinator can do is put you in a position to make a play. After that, it’s all on you.”