Clemson Football: Interior Defensive Line will be tested in 2019


The Clemson football defensive tackles must use the rest of spring and summer to prepare for the upcoming season because they will be tested in 2019.

There’s one area that opposing offenses just haven’t tested the past few years with Clemson football- the interior defensive line.

How many times have we seen teams consistently try to run up the middle or put pressure on the interior of the defensive line? The answer is not that often.

Other than maybe Alabama in 2017, teams just haven’t had continued success running straight up the middle or directing plays that way.

The only times that I can think of, as a matter of fact, have to do more when the play broke down than anything else. At times, the Tigers would overrun an athletic quarterback and that would lead to him leaving the pocket up the middle and rushing for a moderate gain.

But, for the most part, that interior line has been set and fortified for the past few years. Christian Wilkins, Dexter Lawrence and even Albert Huggins did a great job of setting the tone up the middle for Clemson football and forcing opposing offenses to try to attack the Tiger defense in different ways.

That’s going to be a change this season, though.

I fully expect opposing offenses to attempt to test the Clemson defensive tackles early on. Nyles Pinckney, Jordan Williams, Xavier Kelly, Tyler Davis, Darnell Jefferies and others are going to be tested.

Teams are going to try to exploit whatever weakness they might find and the first area they will try is going to be up the middle.

Teams aren’t going to be afraid to hand the ball off up the middle on 3rd and short as they were in years past. I mean, how many times were teams stuff on 3rd and short or 4th and short situations when they ran the ball up the middle? The answer is so many times that many teams, including Alabama in the National Championship game, decided they’d have a better chance picking up those yards if they ran to the outside.

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The defensive tackles in 2019 must step up. They’re going to be tested and teams are going to try to exploit them. For the Tigers to have success defensively, it’s going to start with the interior line.

They don’t have to be elite like their predecessors, but they do have to prove to be serviceable.