Everyone knows how familiar Texas A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher is with Clemson’s defense. Fisher and Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables have been butting heads now for a long time.
Saturday’s 3:30 p.m., kickoff at Memorial Stadium, between the top-ranked Tigers and No. 12 Texas A&M, will mark the 10th consecutive year the two coaches have faced off and the 11th overall. But the Aggies also have some familiarity with Clemson’s offense.
Texas A&M defensive coordinator Mike Elko knows the Tigers all too well. His defenses have faced Clemson four times in the last five seasons.
Elko coached against Clemson when he was at Wake Forest from 2014-’16 and then last year during his first season coaching the Aggies’ defense.
What kind of defense does A&M like to play?
“They like to bring a little bit more pressure whenever they play us and get the ball out,” Clemson co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott said on Monday. “I think they have a really good secondary that they feel confident in.”
Scott says there was not much difference in the way Elko schemed against the Tigers last year and in his three seasons at Wake Forest. He held Clemson to 413 total yards, including just 115 on the ground.
“The best teams, whether it is an offense or defense, you know who you are, and you really don’t have to change that up,” Scott said. “I think sometimes when you are at a disadvantage, then you feel you have to change it up and be somebody that you are not.”
Clemson (1-0) expects the Aggies to be very confident in their defense. Though they are replacing seven starters from a defense last year that finished third nationally in rushing defense, they’re still good at the fundamentals and they are still talent heavy unit.
“It will definitely be a good challenge,” Scott said. “His guys are always going to be in position. I think it is very similar to Coach Venables’ defense. They may do a lot of things, but they are always going to have the guy on the back end to make up for where they are blitzing or whatever. They are going to be gap sound. They’re going to have the right coverages. You don’t see a bunch of blown coverages or open gaps.
“I think it is just a very well coordinated, very well tied together defense. They know what they are doing, and they are able to be very aggressive. I think they have the guys at D-Line, linebacker and in the secondary. They are very talented.”
Scott knows the Tigers will get a lot of one-on-one situations in Saturday’s game, whether it is one-on-one blocks up front, blocking guys at nose guard and D-tackle, linebacker or his wideouts getting those matchups on the outside.
“It is going to be a group that can challenge us,” he said.
And that’s because they know who the Tigers are.
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