#2 Clemson Tigers vs #1 Alabama Crimson Tide
Monday January 9th
7:00 CST on ESPN
When Clemson Has the Ball
#4 QB Deshaun Watson
#9 RB Wayne Gallman
#7 WR Mike Williams
#3 WR Artavis Scott
#16 TE Jordan Leggett
#55 RG Tyrone Crowder
#57 C Jay Guillermo
#93 DE Jonathan Allen
#54 DE Dalvin Tomlinson
#56 OLB Tim Williams
#22 OLB Ryan Anderson
#10 LB Ruben Foster
#26 CB Marlon Humphrey
— Brian Johannes (@Draft_Brian) October 8, 2016
We all know about Alabama’s legendary defense that has been on fire only allowing more than 16 points twice this season and complete shut down the Washington offense. However the Crimson Tide hasn’t seen an offense like Clemson who has an elite quarterback, running back, receiver and tight end. Quarterback Deshaun Watson gave Alabama all they could handle in last year’s national title game. Watson has the arm to make all the throws and the legs to not only extend plays but make them. The big difference however is Watson has caught the turnover bug which Alabama’s defense thrives on. Watson had two inceptions against Ohio State and cannot afford the same fate.
— Brian Johannes (@Draft_Brian) October 24, 2016
The first thing the Tigers must do if they want to move the ball is containing the Alabama defensive line. Blocking Jonathan Allen alone has been practically impossible this year and what makes him even dangerous is you can’t double him because guys like Dalvin Tomlinson, Ryan Anderson and Tim Williams can easily beat one on one blocks. It’s going to take this young Tiger offense working together and helping out to try and slow this group to help the running game and give Watson enough time.
What killed Washington’s offense is that the Crimson Tide were able to shut down the run and put the Huskies in obvious passing situations. Clemson cannot let this happen again but luckily Clemson has Wayne Gallman at running back whose explosive running style helps him generate power. But he’ll have to deal with Bama’s inside linebacker Ruben Foster who could be a top 5 overall pick. But where Clemson has the advantage is Watson is also an adapt runner and misdirection or zone ready plays could cause Foster and the rest of the linebackers to have to guess and they can use their aggressiveness to their advantage.
— Brian Johannes (@Draft_Brian) September 6, 2016
If the Tigers can stay out of obvious passing situations that means Alabama cannot stay back in two high safeties which will could mean one on one match ups for the Clemson receivers which they can win. While Artavis Scott and Jordan Leggett are great weapons and will play a huge role the battle between potential top 10 prospects in Mike Williams and Marlon Humphrey will be a joy to watch. Williams uses his size and body control to dominate at the catch point but Marlon Humphrey at 6’1 isn’t a small corner and he plays a feisty style that allows him to defender bigger receivers. Humphrey has given some big plays, but he must do a better job of staying with Williams and not give up long catches which could lead to scoring plays. This is the best match up of the game.
— Brian Johannes (@Draft_Brian) October 18, 2016
When Alabama Has the Ball
#13 WR ArDarius Stewart
#14 WR Gehrig Dieter
#88 TE OJ Howard
#74 LT Cam Robinson
#94 DT Carlos Watkins
#10 LB Ben Boulware
#25 CB Cordrea Tankersly
#18 SS Jadar Johnson
Whether it was LSU, Florida and even Washington in the Peach Bowl have shown that good defenses can keep them in check for most of the game. Clemson showed in the Fiesta Bowl by shutting out Ohio State that despite a young defense, they’re more than talented. But what they’ll have to avoid is the big plays that Washington gave up after three quarters of body blows.
— Brian Johannes (@Draft_Brian) January 1, 2017
Last year in the National Title Game it was tight end OJ Howard that had a huge game that helped the Crimson Tide win the national title. Clemson safeties TJ Green and Jayron Kearse couldn’t slow down Howard and the Tigers are hoping that strong safety Jadar Johnson can do that this year. He’ll have his handful with Howard who doesn’t get a ton of targets but is a lock first round pick and could easily go in the top 15.
On the outside the Tigers have a talented cornerback in Cordrea Tankersly who has the speed to run with receivers and the ability to stop and accelerate to make plays on the ball out of breaks. Tankersly plays the field position which means he won’t lock up on one specific receiver and likely sees Ardarius Stewart, Gehrig Dieter and sophomore Calvin Ridley throughout the game. If Tankersly can lock down his side of the field that means the Tigers could roll coverage the other way and really slow this offense down.