When Clemson and Notre Dame played back on Nov. 7, the Tigers only got to quarterback Ian Book twice in the double-overtime loss in South Bend. However, it was not for a lack of trying.
Clemson, who will play Notre Dame in the ACC Championship Game in Charlotte a week from Saturday, also had four other hurries and came after Book quite often that night. Unfortunately for the Tigers, Book was able to get away from the pressure, as most of his 64 yards on the 14 carries he had come on scrambles.
Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly is expecting the Tigers to come with pressure again in the rematch at Bank of America Stadium, even though Clemson has not shown as much pressure in its wins over Pittsburgh and Virginia Tech the last two weeks.
“As we’ve looked at the last couple games over the weekend, not as many pressures. It could maybe because they’ve had their captain out on defense and they wanted to slow some things down, but we’ll be prepared for a little bit of everything from what they do defensively,” Kelly said.
The Tigers (9-1, 8-1 ACC) did not bring as much pressure due to the fact they combined for eight sacks in the two games. It could also be because defensive tackle Tyler Davis is back in the lineup, after missing three straight games, including at Notre Dame. With Davis inserted into the lineup along with Xavier Thomas, Myles Murphy, K.J. Henry, Bryan Bresee, Nyles Pinckney, Jordan Williams and Justin Mascoll, the Tigers have gotten pressure with its front four and is not having to blitz as much.
The result, seven forced turnovers in the last two games, including four interceptions against Pitt.
However, linebacker James Skalski, who played more than 20 snaps against Pitt, left the Virginia Tech game after the first series after he started to feel some discomfort in his groin. He had surgery on his groin in late October which caused him to miss the Syracuse, Boston College and the first meeting against Notre Dame.
Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said earlier this week, they took Skalski out as a precautionary measure and they fully expect to have their starting middle linebacker ready to play in the ACC Championship Game.
“We have plenty of time to evaluate what they did against us and certainly what they have shown this past weekend against Virginia Tech,” Kelly said.
Clemson and Notre Dame will kick off at 4 p.m. on Dec. 19. The game will be televised by ABC.
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