For the second year in a row, Clemson carved its way to another National Championship appearance.
On Monday, Clemson will face Alabama in a National Championship rematch. Both teams will travel to Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida to compete on the biggest stage in college football with the national championship at stake.
Last year, Alabama beat the Tigers in a hard fought game by a score of 45-40. As many players and head coach Dabo Swinney have said, Clemson’s loss came down to losing just a few plays that could have made a difference in the game.
This year, the Tigers are on the prowl to change the outcome and bring home Clemson’s second national title in football.
When it comes to Alabama’s offensive running game, they’re at the top of the list. Running back Bo Scarbrough is coming off of a career-high 180 rushing yards against Washington in the semifinal Peach Bowl victory. Clemson’s defensive line will have to come ready to be physical with Scarbrough, as he’s one of the best running back’s Clemson has faced this season.
Although Alabama focuses heavily on their run game, Clemson’s defensive front is ready for the challenge of attempting to limit an Alabama team that likes to run the ball.
During the media press conference on Wednesday afternoon, we spoke to a majority of the defensive starters including defensive end Clelin Ferrell, defensive tackle Christian Wilkins and linebacker Ben Boulware. The three talked about the defense’s job of limiting Alabama’s offense.
Here is what we heard:
Ferrell, who won the defensive player of the game in the Fiesta Bowl against Ohio State with three tackles for loss and a sack, said one of the Tigers’ main focuses is disrupting Alabama’s run game.
“Alabama does a lot of different things. I’m going to have to be on top of my game with reading my keys,” he said. “We’re definitely going to have to stop the run. That’s going to be one of our main focuses. It’s going to be the toughest game we play all year. We’re excited for the challenge.”
Wilkins agreed and said that the defensive line will have to be on their A-game to come out on top.
“They have a good team, a good offensive line, good skill everywhere, a good quarterback…it’s going to be a tough team to play,” the sophomore said. “You got to put on your big boy pants. Games are won in the trenches, so the defensive line is going to have to be ready to play.”
Boulware talked about how stout and strong Alabama’s offense is. He also talked about how Clemson’s defense has to approach tackling a dynamic player like Scarbrough and facing the rest of Alabama’s offensive line.
“You have to man up. You have to square them up. For guys 230-plus, you have to suck it up,” the linebacker said. “If you play linebacker at a high level, you have to do things you don’t want to do. I don’t want to tackle Bo Scarbrough, but I want to win the National Championship. So if that’s what I have to do to win the National Championship, I’m going to try to tackle him as many times as possible.”
Clemson rolled to a 31-0 victory over Ohio State in the playoff semifinals, completely shutting down the Buckeyes’ run game. As the Tigers’ defense prepares to play for a National Championship, they hope to limit Alabama’s run game in the same way.
–Photo Credit: Rob Schumacher/The Arizona Republic via USA TODAY Sports