By Will Vandervort
Clemson defensive tackle Grady Jarrett told the media Wednesday he has decide not to forgo his senior season and enter the NFL Draft. That’s good news for the 12th-ranked Tigers, not just because they will have their junior defensive tackle for another season, but also because he will be totally focused on stopping No. 7 Ohio State and its potent running attack.
“We get to end the season against one of the best programs in the country,” he said. “This will be a good game for us to have on our résumé. We are looking forward to it. We have already proven we can win big games against really good opponents so this is going to be a nice challenge for us and we are looking forward to it.”
The Buckeyes (12-1) feature the nation’s No. 4 rushing offense, which is averaging 317.5 yards a game on the ground. Their led by quarterback Braxton Miller, who is probably a more dangerous a runner than as a passer in Urban Meyer’s offense.
Miller has rushed for 1,033 yards and 10 touchdowns in 11 games this year, while throwing for 1,860 yards and 22 touchdowns. Quarterbacks like Miller have been deadly for Clemson in recent years, especially this season.
“He is a baller,” Clemson safety Robert Smith said.
In the regular-season finale, South Carolina’s Conner Shaw threw for 152 yards and a touchdown and ran for 94 more and a score in the Gamecocks’ 31-17 victory over the Tigers. Shaw accounted for 248 of South Carolina’s 318 total yards.
In defending Miller—and Jarrett means no disrespect to Shaw—but times Shaw by two and that gives you Miller.
“Shaw has good speed, but Miller has great speed,” Jarrett said. “That’s going to be a lot different and he does throw the ball well. It’s a little different, but it is a little bit of the same, too.”
After watching the South Carolina film, Jarrett said Shaw made plays, especially when things broke down.
“He was just making something out of it and was being a football player,” the Tigers’ star defensive tackle said. “He was just finding something out of nothing when it came down to it. We will find a solution to it.”
If Clemson (10-2) can find a solution then its chances to win increase greatly in the 80th Annual Discover Orange Bowl. Though the Buckeyes have a great running back in Carlos Hyde (1,413 yards and 14 touchdowns), the Tigers have done fairly well defending big-time running backs this year.
“We have a lot of work to do in order to shut down two great football players,” Jarrett said. “It can be done, but we just have to put the work in and have a good plan going into the game.”
Clemson held Boston College’s Andre Williams, the nation’s leading rusher, to 70 yards on 24 carries, while South Carolina’s Mike Davis—the SEC’s regular season rushing leader—to 22 yards on 15 carries.
“I think it is the same song, different day,” Jarrett said. “We have gone against a bunch of good running backs this year in (Todd) Gurley, Williams, Davis and now Hyde. I honestly, and I know he is a great player, but I don’t think it is going to be that much different, but we will prepare for going against one of the best running backs in the country.
“We have to stop the run, so we have to do that.”
Clemson has done a pretty good job of that this season. The Tigers are allowing 152.6 yards on the ground and lead the nation in tackles for a loss with 112.