And even then, there is no guarantee
There is no secret to what Clemson needs to do if it hopes to slow down Joe Burrow and the LSU offense in the College Football Playoff National Championship on Monday night.
The ACC’s Tigers have to get to Burrow and make him uncomfortable. That’s easier said than done.
Though Burrow has been sacked 30 times this season, the Heisman Trophy winning quarterback has still put up video game numbers, throwing for 5,208 yards and 55 touchdowns, while completing 77.6 percent of his passes.
So far, Burrow seems unfazed by any kind of pressure. He has played top 10 defenses in Florida and Georgia, as well as top 20 scoring defenses in Alabama and Auburn, and he hasn’t seemed bothered by anything defenses have thrown at him.
In a way, it’s almost like he is always one step ahead of the defense in every game.
“He scrambles when he needs to, he doesn’t force it,” Clemson defensive end Xavier Thomas said. “He is very good in the pocket, but he also has a very good offensive line. He is athletic, I would say, so he can get out when he needs to.”
Despite Burrows second sense, Thomas and the Clemson defense still believe the best way to stop Burrow is to do like they do to any quarterback in football. They have to get pressure on him. They can’t allow him to sit back in the pocket and pick them apart.
“It is definitely a factor. We have to pressure him,” Thomas said. “Get his eyes in different places, a lot of different looks, stuff like that. We just have to do our best.”
The good news for the Clemson defense is they have one of the game’s best dialing up the plays. Defensive coordinator Brent Venables is known for the different ways he tries to bring pressure and confuse quarterbacks.
He was successful in confusing last year’s Heisman finalist Tua Tagovailoa in last year’s national championship and this year’ Heisman finalist in Ohio State’s Justyn Fields. Clemson picked off Tagovailoa twice and did the same to Fields in their Fiesta Bowl win on Dec. 28.
Fields had thrown just one interception all season prior to the Fiesta. Clemson actually could have had three more interceptions on Fields, but one was called back due to pass interference and two more were dropped.
“It is fun. Sometimes it is kind of nerve racking all the stuff that [Venables] does but it is what we have to do, and we will get the results,” Thomas said.
Those results have allowed Clemson to have the nation’s top ranked pass defense, allowing just 151.5 yards per game through the air. Clemson also ranks third nationally in interceptions with 19, third in tackles for loss with 111 and 12th in sacks with 42.
“It gives you a lot of confidence knowing how well prepared we are going into a game. How much time you put in, and in the film room, how we eat, sleep, and prepare. It gives us a lot of confidence going in,” Thomas said.
Clemson is going to need all of that confidence and then some to stop Burrow, something no one has been able to do all year.
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!