Clemson defense set for tough test


by - Correspondent -
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Lamar Jackson and the Louisville offense have put up prolific numbers this season (Photo by Jamie Rhodes, USAT)
Lamar Jackson and the Louisville offense have put up prolific numbers this season (Photo by Jamie Rhodes, USAT)

Throughout this week, Clemson’s showdown with Louisville is going to be made out to be Deshaun Watson vs. Lamar
Jackson.

Or Lamar Jackson vs. Deshaun Watson.

But really, it’s about Jackson and his high-powered offense vs. the stingy Clemson defense. Jackson hasn’t seen anything like Clemson’s defense this season, but the Tigers’ defense hasn’t seen anything like Jackson either.
It should make for one heck of a show Saturday night on national TV at Death Valley.

Jackson ranks eighth nationally in rushing (131.5 yards per game) and 12th in passing (332.5 yards), and he leads the nation in scoring (18.0 points per game).

Behind its standout quarterback, Louisville leads the nation in scoring offense (63.5 points) and total offense (682.0 yards) and ranks third in rushing offense (318.25 yards) and 10th in passing offense (363.8 yards).
The Tigers, however, are just as impressive on defense as they rank in the top 10 in three major categories: scoring defense (11.0 points, T5); passing defense (125.8 yards per game, 3); and total defense (218.5 yards per game, 3).

Clemson is also 15th in rushing yards allowed per game: 92.75.

Other NCAA rankings of note:

TEAM
Offense
Scoring offense: 33.5 points per game (53).
Rushing offense: 159.5 yards per game (85).
Passing offense: 293.0 yards per game (26).
Total offense: 452.5 yards per game (T47).
Turnover margin: 0.75 per game (T26).

Defense
Sacks: 3.25 per game (T13).
Tackles for loss: 9.5 per game (T7).
Interceptions: 1.75 per game (T6).

Special Teams
Punt returns: 51.0 yards per game (15).

INDIVIDUAL
Offense
Passing: Watson, 249.0 yards per game (40).
Receiving: Mike Williams, 75.8 yards per game (58).
Total offense: Watson, 279.0 yards per game (41).
All purpose yards: Ray-Ray McCloud, 110.3 yards per game (82).
Plays of 10-plus yards: Williams, 13 (T47); McCloud, 12 (T67).
Passing plays of 10-plus yards: Watson, 42 (T22).

Defense
Sacks: Carlos Watkins, 3.0 (T33).
Tackles for loss: Kendall Joseph, 33.0 (T17).
Interceptions: Jadar Johnson, 2 (T11).
Passes defensed: Johnson, 5 (T27).
Fumbles forced: Ben Boulware, 1 (T45).

Special teams
Punt returns: McCloud, 42.3 yards per game (8).
Punting: Andy Teasdall, 38.94 yards per punt (87).
Field goals: Greg Huegel, 77.8 percent (T38).
Scoring: Huegel, nine points per game (T42).

Daniel Shirley is the sports editor of The Telegraph in Macon, Ga., and co-host of The Midday Sports Zone on Middle Georgia’s ESPN, 93.1 FM and 99.5 FM. Follow him on Twitter at @DM_Shirley and read his blog at macon.com/peachsports.

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