Holtz impressed with Clemson defensive line

by - Senior Writer -

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – South Florida head coach Skip Holtz said on Thursday that he had a message for all football fans watching Friday’s Meineke Car Care Bowl between his Bulls and the Clemson Tigers: take some plays and not watch where the ball goes, but watch the play of the defensive lines.

Holtz said he feels like he has a talented group on the defensive front, led Terrell McClain, and his team has faced several good lines during the season.

Clemson, however, is another matter, and he urges all fans to spend some time watching the big men up front.

“If you love defensive football, then this is a must-watch,” Holtz told TigerNet Thursday afternoon. “They [Clemson] are the best defensive front I’ve seen, without a doubt, and it’s not even close. We have played Miami and Florida, and some of the schools in the Big East that I thought were talented up front like Pitt and UConn. But this is the best front four we have played all year.”

Holtz said that he thinks Clemson has one of the more talented teams he has faced this season, but that he sees where the offensive inconsistency has helped lead to the 6-6 record.

“Talent. That is the first word that comes to mind when I see them play,” Holtz said. “They play hard, and they are a damn good football team. Offensively, they can move the ball. They have a very strong running game. Their offensive line got better as the year went along. They moved up and down the field, but they struggled to get the ball into the end zone.

“They probably are in the situation as we are in that their receivers are young. But defensively, they have a couple of guys on that defensive front that will play in the NFL and are probably first round draft picks. They are difficult to move off the ball. Their linebackers can run, and in the secondary they play a lot of man coverage and some matchup zone. They do a lot of different things that will pose challenges for us.”

Holtz tapped into his inner Tommy Bowden when talking about the Tigers’ .500 record.

“They are well-coached and so talented even though they are 6-6,” he said. “They are probably just three plays away from playing in a BCS bowl game. When you play defense that strong and that good, you are going to be in a lot of football games. I think six of the last seven teams they played are bowl teams, and only one team scored more than one touchdown or 16 points. They got much better as the year went on.”

He said he was impressed with junior defensive end Da’Quan Bowers, but it wasn’t only Bowers that jumps out on the game film.

“It’s Bowers, as well as Brandon Thompson and Jarvis Jenkins and Andre Branch,” he said. “They’ve all done it all year long. Bowers is more than special, and he has so many strengths. He has that speed that is difficult to match up against, and he can bull rush you. He can do so many different things.

“But those guys on the inside also impressed me. Those are good people, and I don’t think they’ve gotten the credit they deserve. We will be trying to stop those inside tackles as much or even more than we will be Bowers. Bowers is very talented on his own, but that might be the best front in the country.”

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