After winning the inaugural national championship game, Ohio State is back in the College Football Playoff again for the second time. Now Ohio State will take on Clemson in the Playstation Fiesta Bowl for a shot at playing for another national championship. The last time the two teams faced off resulted in a 40-35 Clemson victory in the 2014 Discover Orange Bowl. On Tuesday, representatives of the Buckeyes’ offense discussed what they have seen from Clemson.
Here is what we heard:
“Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett and Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson became friends at quarterback camp, and Barrett reflected upon how they both hoped they’d be able to lead their respective teams to this level of success.
“We talked about it at the beginning of the season. Kind of like any top team in the country you see yourself at the end of the year being in the playoffs and things like that. And early in the year, it was, like, hopefully I’ll see you at the end. And sure enough we’re here, but like I said, I think as individuals we have that set out for ourselves and our teams. But then I think being friends and being able to go against each other just makes it all the better,” Barrett said.
Barrett also mentioned how Clemson’s defense will be challenging because the Tigers are good at disrupting plays.
“I mean, they’ve got some dudes, that’s for sure. I think they’re at there at the top as far as just disrupting things. I think as a defensive line that’s what you try to do is just cause havoc. I think they do a good job of that,” Barrett said. ”Defense as a whole, they have a lot of things that they like to do, which makes them not predictable. So you kind of have an idea of what they like to do, but then, too, you don’t know because they’ve got a mix of everything.”
One Clemson player that stands out to Barrett as particularily talented is linebacker Ben Boulware.
“He’s around the ball. I think with him, he’s just one of those playmakers, ball-seekers. I think he does a great job of, like, deciphering plays, like what the offense is trying to do. I think he’s instinctive in that way. But he’s definitely a ball player, finds himself around the ball a lot,” Barrett said.
Running back Curtis Samuel added that the linebacker corps really stands out to him on Clemson’s defense as being one of the stronger units.
“They have good linebacker play. They play together. They send a bunch of different blitzes, come at you at different ways. Their DBs are sound. They don’t make many mistakes. And I feel like that’s what makes a defense good, not making too many mistakes and playing together,” Samuel said.
Running back Mike Weber was more impressed with the defensive line and defensive backs.
“They’re really fast on the back end. They have really good, athletic corners and safeties. And their “D” lineman are really tough and gritty down there in the trenches. And it’s going to be a tough game. You expect to play against really good competition at this level,” Weber said. “The most prepared team will win this game. That’s what we’re focusing on.”
Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables mentioned that planning for Ohio State is almost like preparing to take on a triple option offense because of all the talented running backs Ohio State has. Samuel said he thinks that is one of the Buckeyes’ biggest weapons.
“I can assume that they’re going to try to game plan on certain guys. But if you put all three of us in the backfield, I don’t really know what they can do. They don’t know if it could be a pass or run. We could do a whole bunch of different things they got to worry about — three different runners in the backfield. That’s a great weapon that we have. And it kind of confuses the defense a little bit, has them thinking a little bit,” Samuel said.