There was deservedly much hype surrounding Ohio State’s Chase Young heading into the Fiesta Bowl, but Clemson managed to shut the star defensive end down during its 29-23 victory Saturday in the College Football Playoff semifinal at the Fiesta Bowl.
Young, a Heisman Trophy finalist and the 2019 Bednarik Award winner for the nation’s best defensive player, leads the country with 16.5 sacks and is tied for fourth nationally with 21 tackles for loss.
But against offensive tackles Jackson Carman, Tremayne Anchrum and Clemson’s offense, Young was limited to the tune of a season-low one tackle and did not record a sack or tackle for loss while pressuring quarterback Trevor Lawrence only one time.
In the 12 games that Young played in this season, Michigan State and Wisconsin are the only other teams that held him without a sack.
So, what was the key to the Tigers stifling Young in the Fiesta Bowl?
“Communication,” Anchrum said afterward. “Knowing where our help was, understanding how he rushes. He’s a really good player. He studies the launch point of the ball, snap count. It really took a whole team to really stop that guy, but we figured it out and we won our matchups.”
Clemson (14-0) overcame a 16-0 first-half deficit to beat the Buckeyes in front of 71,330 fans at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.
“Great team win,” Anchrum said. “We prepared for this. We were ready. We’re always inside-out focused, and that’s what it came down to. No matter what’s going on around us — the atmosphere, the energy – we brought it. Our Clemson fans, they outnumbered us three to one, but we brought it. Came from inside out and we got it done.”
The comeback was Clemson’s second-largest under Dabo Swinney, behind the 18-point comeback against Maryland in 2011.
It was also Clemson’s fifth-largest comeback in school history, trailing the 18-point comeback against Maryland, a 28-point comeback against Virginia (1992) and 17-point comebacks against Virginia (1966) and North Carolina (2000).
“It means a lot,” Anchrum said of battling back to earn the win. “It’s just a testament to all the work we’ve done as a team, as a family, all the people in the facility that helped us get here. It just means the world. It just shows that if we keep on keeping on with the mission and the journey that we’re on, that we’re going to be where we want to be.”
Clemson will vie for its 30 consecutive victory and try to finish off back-to-back undefeated national championship campaigns when it plays Joe Burrow’s LSU squad for the national title on Jan. 13 in New Orleans.
“It’s going to be a good fight,” Anchrum said. “They’re a great team. I mean gosh, that quarterback’s playing great, that defense is phenomenal. It’s going to be a challenge, but I think we’re up to it.”
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