Tiger defenders playing the part of LSU running backs

by - Senior Writer -

ATLANTA, GA – The starters on the Clemson defense turned to their defensive teammates this week when it came time to simulate LSU’s stable of big, physical backs, using Tra ThomasTra Thomas
RS So. Defensive Tackle
#95 6-0, 275
Wadesboro, NC

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, Lateek TownsendLateek Townsend
So. Linebacker
#20 6-2, 215
Bennettsville, SC

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and T.J. BurrellT.J. Burrell
Fr. Linebacker
#41 5-11, 215
Goose Creek, SC

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to play the parts of LSU runners during bowl practice.

Thomas (6-0, 275) , a redshirt sophomore defensive tackle out of Wadesboro, N.C., served as LSU fullback J.C. Copeland, who checks in at 6-1, 280, and played the part well, according to defensive coordinator Brent VenablesBrent Venables
Defensive Coordinator / Linebackers
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“He’s a good athlete, quick, explosive. He weighs 275 pounds,” Venables said Saturday. “He does a good job of pounding our linebackers, getting them a little sore, giving them some stingers.”

Linebackers Townsend [6-2, 215] and T.J. Burrell [5-11, 215] were asked to work in the roles of running backs Jeremy Hill, Spencer Ware, Michael Ford and Kenny Hilliard.

LSU running backs average right at 6 feet and 226 pounds, and have combined to run for 1,838 yards and 20 touchdowns this season.

“It’s crazy, the stable of backs that they have,” Venables said. “They do a great job utilizing their different skill sets. Each one, I think, kind of presents a different thing, but they’re all physical.”

Venables said the coaching staff had to use the defensive players to simulate LSU’s large runners.

“Having three weeks to get ready for somebody, our responsibility as coaches is to find the best way to get our guys used to the ‘game speed and physicality’ and some bigger backs,” Venables said. “Our guys want it. They want that. They want to know what that’s going to be like on game day. It’s not exactly like game day, but it’s the closest thing, based on what we’ve got.”

He then said that while LSU doesn’t try to trick the defense and people might think it is an easy offense to prepare for, the Cajun Tigers execute their offense with precision.

“Well, they are very precise in what they are doing and that's what you have to appreciate and have great respect for,” he said. “They do it with great intensity, very intense, physical and aggressive mind-set in how they run the football. They are running downhill to not just the isolation play but the whole mentality is being in attack mode and in the running game. They are great technicians at what they do. They understand leverage. They understand angles and are very, very well coached and you can see it as an offensive team.

“It's exciting, because again, they are not trying to trick you and their form of a trick play is a play-action pass and trying to get the receiver in behind you. So that being said, we are going to have to really make a collective effort; we are going to play a lot of guys. Our guys have the mind-set of the inside drill [Paw Drill] and you have to do it for 60 minutes and that's the mind-set.”

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