Alabama vs Clemson: Position Matchups -

Alabama vs Clemson: Position Matchups

by All Things ACC

Posted: 1/8/2017 12:30:47 PM

It’s rare that you have two preseason favorites matchup in the title game; it’s rarer that you have a repeat of last year’s title game. Although it has been a year, a lot hasn’t changed. Clemson still has the best dual-threat quarterback in the country; Alabama still has the best defense in the country. Here are some position matchups that both teams must win in order to win the game.

Offensive line vs. Defensive line: The game has and always will be won in the trenches. Since both teams have a ferocious defensive line this matchup is critical on both sides. In order for Clemson to be successful, they must generate a run game. Alabama is number one in rushing defense allowing 62 yards per game and only three rushing touchdowns. Opponents can only muster up two yards per carry which is abysmal. Alabama has 50 sacks on the year and average three per game. Clemson’s offensive line must create running lanes and protect Deshaun Watson in order to win the game.

Clemson hasn’t seen an offensive line this good, but they haven’t seen a defensive line this good. Clemson’s defense has 49 sacks on the year which is fifth in the country. Clemson’s defensive line had a lot of success last year with five sacks. Clemson’s defensive tackle, Carlos Watkins, leads the team in sacks with 10.5 which means a lot of penetration up the middle. In order for Alabama to win, they must create running lanes and stay out of third and longs.

Clemson’s Receivers vs. Alabama’s Secondary: Clemson has arguably the best receivers in college football; Clemson arguably has the best wide receiver in college football. Mike Williams is a matchup nightmare for opposing defenders. Clemson did not have him or Deon Cain last year and Watson managed to throw for 405 passing yards. The tight end, Jordan Leggett, will have opportunities to make plays in the middle of the field. Clemson receivers have to get open early and often in order to win the game.

 Alabama has been exposed in the secondary at times this year. Alabama loves to run two deep safeties and since they get a lot of pressure on opposing quarterbacks, it’s hard to find an open man. Alabama can get pressure with their front four and without blitzing. More than likely Alabama will run a cover two making sure no receivers gets behind them. However, this leaves the middle of the field open for Leggett. Alabama’s secondary must contain him and the other plethora of receivers in order to win.

Jalen Hurts vs. Clemson’s Secondary: Contrary to popular belief, the pressure isn’t on Watson. Watson has been there done that, but Alabama’s quarterback Jalen Hurts hasn’t. Hurts hasn’t had to be special in the passing game due to his hellacious defense and prolific running game. However, Clemson has seen a run first team in Ohio State and we saw how that went. This led to the Buckeyes ending up with a goose egg on the board and an embarrassing defeat.

Although Alabama’s offensive line is better than Ohio State’s, the principles are the same. They want to get Hurts on the move and out of the pocket, but scrambling won’t be enough. Coming off a career-low 57 passing yards will he be able to take advantage of Clemson’s secondary.

Clemson is number four in team passing efficiency defense which is different from passing yards allowed. Pass efficiency defense takes not only their yardage but pass completion percentages, both INT total, and percentage of INTs thrown, TD total and rate, yards per attempt, and yards per completion into account to then give an overall rating. The only team that Hurts played with a higher passing efficiency defense is Florida; he threw for 138 passing yards along with one touchdown.


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