ACC coaches break down Clemson-Louisville


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FSU's Jimbo Fisher says Saturday's game will "be a heck of a thing to watch." (USA TODAY photo-Jeremy Brevard)

A number of ACC coaches weighed in with their take on the top-15 showdown Saturday night between Clemson, which is ranked as high as No. 2, and No. 14 Louisville, on this week's ACC coaches teleconference:

Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher on Louisville QB Lamar Jackson versus Clemson’s defensive front: Your defensive front could set the tone for the game. No matter how great your quarterback is, if they can't protect him, and the escapability and creativity that Lamar has creates another set of problems too. Because you want to lay your ears back and go sack him, but at the same time you get out of a rush lane and he can create so many problems down the field whether he's running, throwing in that regards. It's going to be a chess match. We're going to have to bring different blitzes. I'm sure Bobby (Petrino) will have different protections. You've got two great coaches on both sides of the ball that are going at each other and two great teams.

So it will definitely be a match-up. Like I said, there are going to be some guys around Lamar to help you make plays. But at the same time, they'll have to take those limits away and try to contain. At the same time, Clemson's going to have to try to contain them in the pocket. It's going to be a heck of a thing to watch. You have two great teams on both sides and just great teams in general. It will be a great match-up.

UNC coach Larry Fedora, who just faced Louisville, on Jackson versus Clemson: Yeah, I got a chance to see Clemson-Auburn that night. Watched them, and their defensive front is as dominant as it has been the last few years. I think he matched up pretty well with him last year, so you would anticipate that he would this year. I mean, the guy is very, very special. I don't care who he plays against. A lot of that is going to depend on the offensive line and the running backs for Louisville as far as what kind of success that Lamar has against him.

Fedora on Vince Young comparisons for Jackson from Brent Venables: Yeah, I think that's a great comparison right there. When I was at Oklahoma State at the time when he was at the University of Texas, and he was able to dominate a game the same way that Lamar has. He was a big guy. In fact, I remember a distinct play just like what happened this Saturday. We blitzed the corner and Lamar sidestepped the corner and threw a 75-yard touchdown. If I remember right, our corner bounced off of Vince Young and he ended up throwing a long touchdown pass. So that's a great comparison.

Fedora on Jackson’s development as a passer Yeah, I think he's much improved as a passer, and he's proven that in his first couple of games. Where last year he was more apt to take the ball down and just take off and make a play with his legs, now he will, even with pressure, he will set in there and find the open receiver. So I think he's vastly improved as a true quarterback.

Virginia coach Bronco Mendenhall on Jackson: He's a phenomenal athlete, changes direction really well. Throws the ball extremely well. Is fast, besides being quick, and those are two different things. So he has the burst and the suddenness to allude pressure. But he also has the speed to run away from you if you don't have great leverage. He's not a player that you can assign a single defender to. It takes a player down the middle and usually one on both sides of him to make a play. And their supporting cast is strong enough where you run out of numbers if you have to put that many on the quarterback.

It's very difficult to defend everyone else. So it's an amazing challenge. You only have 11 players to defend an offense with. With a player like that that usually takes multiple players in terms of assignment, it's a moving target.

Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson on Jackson: He's going to make plays. It's not a matter of if, it's when. You know, in that game, we got some 3rd down stops, which got him off the field, and then in the fourth quarter he really broke it open on us. Again, he's one of the very best players that we've faced in our time here. He can beat you with his feet. He can beat you with his arm, and the thing that I noticed about him last year as compared to the year before is just his ability to read coverage and have the ball go to the right spot I think was really improved a year ago from 2015. From what I hear, it's even better this year. He's the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, and he's the best if not one of the very best players in all of college football.

Clawson on Clemson’s defensive line versus Jackson: The one thing I take away from it is that I'm glad that I don't have to watch those films this week. I mean, I think someone told me Clemson had 11 sacks against Auburn… So I mean, I've never heard that before. Clemson is just one of those teams that you look at their depth chart, and they have guys graduate and guys go to the NFL, and then the very next year they're just as good if not better in all those spots. So they're just in that mode of not rebuilding but reloading, and it should be a great game this week that you have arguably the best player in college football going against one of the best units in college football.

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