“Clemson’s defensive line can’t rush the passer.”
“Clemson’s safeties are vulnerable.”
“Clemson’s linebackers are too slow.”
“LSU’s defense is much better and can give Clemson’s offense issues.”
“The national championship game will be a de facto home game for LSU.”
These are some of the things being said and written by the national media when they breakdown the national championship matchup between Clemson and LSU. It sounds like Clemson does not have a chance to beat LSU when it plays the Bayou Bengals next Monday at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans.
Here are some of the things by national media writers and television analyst that have been said over the last week.
“Maybe I am partially bias after witnessing this total dismantling of Oklahoma by LSU’s offense, but I think from a schematic Xs and Os standpoint, the thing that really stood out to me is Clemson’s defensive front is just not what it was last year,” ESPN writer David Hale said on the College Football Playoff Podcast. “I am not saying it is bad, but it just was not what it was last year. There were so many times, even when they got a little bit of pressure on Justyn Fields and were moving him around in the pocket, they were not getting to him enough to really take him out of his rhythm or take passes offline. If you do that against Joe Burrow, he is just going to destroy you.”
“Clemson has not got pressure with its front all year and that has been something Brent Venables has been able to mask with the scheming, which is why a lot of us feel like this might be his best coaching job because of some of the deficiencies they had up front this year compared to what we have seen out of this team the last several years,” ESPN writer Andre Adelson said on the College Football Podcast. “The fact they were still so dominant, even though they did not have a dominant front. A lot of that was exposed against Ohio State, and LSU has advantages now at receiver and quarterback compared to what Ohio State had.”
“I did not think Clyde Edward-Helaire was going to play against Oklahoma. I was helping deliver the Joe Moore Award in Baton Rouge on Dec. 18 and he was on a scooter. He could not put weight down on one of his legs. Then you see him against Oklahoma, and you see him in pass protection and they are handing him the football,” College Football analyst and former Auburn player Cole Cubelic said. “I think Clyde Edwards-Helaire will be big in this game late. I think LSU has a lead and they want to sit on that lead because they know how dangerous Clemson’s offense is and I think Clyde Edwards-Helaire outduels Clemson’s Travis Etienne.”
“By the way, nobody is really talking about this, but the improvement that the [LSU] defense has made from where they were at the beginning of the year, to where they are right now, playing with that confidence and that swagger that we all expect LSU to play with defensively, I think is one of those stories people should be talking about now because they got criticized early in the year,” Adelson said. “Now we are starting to see what we expect out of that LSU defense and that could be an issue for Clemson offensively, as well.”
“I have to go with Joe Burrow. There is one thing I have learned when I was spending a little time in the casinos. You never bet against the wave,” ESPN college football analyst Emmanuel Acho said. “Joe Burrow, right now, is as hot as you can be in college football. Trevor Lawrence has been hot since Oct. 1 and I understand that, but Joe Burrow has been hot since Aug. 1.”
“They are deep at receiver…there are so many weapons they have down the field, that … I think Clemson’s backend of their defense is certainly better than Oklahoma’s was, but the bottom line is if you are not going to pressure Joe Burrow, I don’t know how you slow down that LSU offense at all,” Hale said. “I saw some reasons for concern there if I am Clemson. I don’t know how you … Brent Venables did a wonderful job dialing up pressure at some key moments [against Ohio State], but they were not getting pressure from that front four. If you have to make tradeoffs in terms of pressure vs. coverage, LSU is going to burn you.”
“Clemson has some liabilities at safety,” Adelson said. “Isaiah Simmons played the majority of the second half at safety. He has played safety. They move him around a lot, but it is not his more natural position. But it was a major adjustment they had to make because they were getting burned there early on in the game. So, when you look at the wide array of talent [LSU] has at the skill positions, that is a concern.”
“What I worry about for them, is having seen them against Ohio State, which is a really good offense — they have very good receivers, good offensive line obviously, Dobbins is a fantastic back, Fields is a great quarterback — LSU’s is better. And Clemson did great standing up in the red zone and stuffing Ohio State a couple times in the red zone, but Ohio State moved the ball on them. LSU is better than Ohio State. I’m struggling to figure out how Clemson stops LSU,” the Athletics’ Andy Staples said on ESPNU Radio. “Now, I say this. I also said the same thing about Clemson and Alabama last year. The difference is I didn’t think Alabama could stop Clemson, either. I think there are some times when LSU might be able to stop Clemson. But it feels to me like we’re headed for a shootout because as talented as LSU’s defense is, as good as they’ve been since Grant Delpit got healthy, I’m not sure they’re as good as Ohio State’s defense.”
Clemson is going back to the national championship game after once again winning the Fiesta Bowl over Ohio State. Get your official national championship and Fiesta Bowl champs gear right here!