One area of concern for second-ranked Clemson as it hits the road for the first time this season is how will the offense react to what No. 14 Louisville and Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Lamar Jackson is doing?
Will it press if it sees Jackson get in the end zone a couple of times, or will it stick to the game plan and try to take care of the things it can control?
“It is really not something we talk a whole lot about,” Clemson co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott said.
It may not be something the Tigers (2-0) talk about but it is definitely something to watch for as they open the ACC season Saturday at Papa John’s Stadium in Louisville, Ky.
Last week, quarterback Kelly Bryant and the offense handled adversity well when Auburn’s defense punched them in the mouth for the better part of a quarter and a half. Bryant was even knocked out of the game for a brief moment when the wind got knocked out of him following a hit.
Bryant returned and Clemson went on an 88-yard touchdown drive just before halftime, which he capped with a 3-yard run. He then opened the second half with a 27-yard touchdown run to put the Tigers up 14-6, which turned out to be the final score.
With Louisville averaging 41 points and 600 yards per game, can the Tigers’ keep up with that kind of pace if the game becomes a high scoring affair like last year’s shootout between the two teams did in Death Valley?
“Our goal is to go out and score as many points as we can,” Scott said. “I think offensively as coaches, as we are game planning and doing those types of things, we kind of know the temperature of the game and what you are playing against.
“There is no doubt Louisville has an explosive offense and I think last year was a great display of two explosive offenses going back and forth. We have a good defense and they have a really good defense as well, so again this will be another big challenge, but I think with our guys, the message does not change week to week.”
That message is just worry about Clemson and everything else will take care of itself. It’s hard to argue it, either. Playing with that kind of mentality led to the Tigers’ national championship last year, and it is why the Tigers are 72-13 since 2011.
“Our message is it’s about us,” Scott said. “Even though Auburn was very talented and did some good things on their side, we can go back in these meetings and show why the other drives stopped and the reasons we did not do things correctly.
“Our message this week will be the same. We are going to play in a very difficult environment on the road in prime time, eight o’clock, against a very confident and talented defense. But at the end of the day, it is about what we do and how we execute. If we do that, and we protect the ball, then we feel like we have a good shot in every game that we play.”