Leake Prepared for High-flying Texas Tech Offense
John Leake leads the Tigers in tackles with 153.
ORLANDO - John Leake's goal for Monday's Tangerine Bowl is simple, yet
Try to be everywhere at once.
The Clemson junior linebacker will be asked to play many roles against Kliff
Kingsbury and the high-flying Texas Tech offense. Depending on formations
and/or defensive calls, Leake could be:
- Blitzing Kingsbury from any number of alignments;
- Picking up a running back or tight end in man-to-man coverage;
- Dropping into short zone coverage;
- Locked in with a receiver one-on-one.
All this, mind you, with the knowledge that the Red Raiders will run the ball
on occasion, and Leake is responsible for stopping that, too.
Apparently it's all in a day's work for the Plano, Texas native.
"I've got to play more coverage on the pass. We're probably going to end up
blitzing a little more. But I've got to work on my pass coverage," he said.
"Don't get me wrong, they can run the ball too. So we've got to watch that.
But they pass a whole bunch and it gives me a chance to get out there and try
to make a play for our team."
Making plays is nothing unusual for Leake.
He is Clemson's leading tackler with 153, good enough for second in the
Atlantic Coast Conference. Leake had double figure tackle totals in 10 of
Clemson's 12 regular season games, including a a season-high 21 against
Maryland in just 66 total plays.
What has been unusual for Leake and the rest of his teammates is opening a
week-long bowl preparation schedule with two-a-day practices Monday and
Tuesday. The Tigers haven't played a game since Nov. 22, and head coach Tommy
Bowden decided to shake off any lingering rust with the dual sessions here at
Disney's Wide World of Sports complex.
But Leake, whose motor seemingly never slows, appears to be thriving on the
"It's not that big of a deal," he said. "We know coach Bowden and everybody
wants to win this game real bad, so we'll do whatever it takes to do it.
"The morning practices are called walk-throughs, even though they're not
really. They teach us on technique and where we're supposed to be on the new
calls we're having. (At the) afternoon practice we go full speed doing it. An
hour before each practice we're watching film. So we should be ready."
They had better be.
Tiger defenders will face a passing attack unlike anything they've seen this
season. For Kingsbury to throw 50 times or more is not unusual, and the Red
Raiders seemingly have receivers running in every direction.
So how do you stop Kingsbury?
"We want to get him disturbed. We want him to throw some interceptions to get
our offense the ball," Leake said. "We're going to throw everything at him.
Sometimes we'll have a couple of guys playing man, sometimes we'll have a
couple of guys playing zone. Sometimes we'll play zone the whole time,
sometimes we'll play man the whole time.
"Hopefully we'll confuse him and he'll make a bad mistake early that will
turn the game around."
Dan Scott covers Clemson University for the Florence Morning News. He also hosts SportsTalk from 10 a.m.-Noon, Monday-Friday, on WCCP-Fm, 104.9. Click here for Dan Scott's SportsTalk discussion board.