The Clemson football defense will be given a tall task Monday night trying to stop a prolific LSU Tiger offense that is ranked No. 1 in the nation.
Clemson football Defensive Coordinator Brent Venables has been working late trying to find ways to exploit an LSU offense that is ranked No. 1 in the nation.
Venables and the Clemson football defense gave up just 23 points to a prolific Ohio State offense a couple of weeks ago in the Playstation Fiesta Bowl, but now the Tigers will be given an even taller task in the National Championship game.
So, how will Venables go about attacking that LSU offense?
After some film watching and studying, here’s the formula that we’ll likely see Clemson football use to slow down Joe Burrow and that LSU offensive attack.
- Show Multiple Looks
The first thing you’re going to see Clemson do is show multiple looks to Burrow, especially early on. I expect that the Tigers will show more of the 3-man set than we saw against Ohio State, but you’ll still see the 4-man set a times, as well.
In addition to mixing up formations, the Tigers will mix up coverages and throw in a few exotic blitz packages to attempt to confuse Burrow and create pressure on the quarterback.
- Create Pressure
Whether it be slowing down the running game or getting after the quarterback, Clemson is going to need to create pressure with its defensive line and linebackers.
The Tigers will throw in some blitzes, but the key is actually getting to Burrow in the passing game and stopping the run. You can’t allow LSU to establish a run-game. You can’t allow the Tigers to have extra yardage, either. Clemson needs to get into the backfield, bring down the ball-carrier and go after Burrow with looks he hasn’t necessarily seen a ton.
When you look back at defensive units that had any kind of success against LSU [Auburn and Mississippi State, though that was small] the first thing you see is a physical defensive line and linebackers who play their assignments, slow down the running game and get into the backfield and make Burrow start running east-and-west.
- Make Burrow take the underneath option
The secondary has to play the best coverage that we’ve seen all year. Make Burrow take his underneath option instead of having those receivers running open downfield.
To do this, I think you’re going to see Clemson show that 3-high safety look with an extra linebacker- most likely Baylon Spector– for added speed. That will give the Tigers more bodies to defend the pass and make things more difficult for LSU.
LSU wants to get the ball out quick and methodically work down the field before ultimately taking a longshot. Removing the longball and playing tight coverage is the key to slowing down that passing attack.
- Control Time of Possession
Lastly, there’s another defensive tactic that will come into play here: Controlling time of possession.
Expect the Clemson offense to methodically keep the ball and potentially even slow down a bit to simply keep LSU from having as many possessions.
The good news is this: LSU likes to move at a decent pace. Because of that, the Tigers can be prone to quick 3-and-outs- if the defense is able to provide good coverage.
If LSU can’t stay on the field, it will be the Bayou Bengals who wear down as the game progresses and that will open up a door for Clemson to put them away in the fourth quarter.