Tigers Blank Missouri's Justin Smith

by - Correspondent -

CLEMSON, SC - When studying film on Missouri earlier in the week, Clemson head coach Tommy Bowden knew he and his coaching staff would have to find a way to account for MU defensive end Justin Smith on every play.

Mission accomplished.

Smith, the 6-foot-4, 270-pound pass-rushing machine, went without a sack in Saturday's 62-9 Clemson victory, even though he spent much of the evening lined up over reserve left tackle Brady Washburn. Washburn, who started in place of the injured T.J. Watkins, held his own against Smith, as did the rest of the Clemson offensive line.

"Without looking at the game film, I'd have to say the offensive line played pretty well," Bowden said in his postgame press conference. "We rushed for over 200 yards (206 on 50 attempts) again, so that's a pretty good indication that they performed pretty well."

Clemson applied several different strategies in dealing with Smith:

- The tempo of the Tigers' offense alone kept him on his heels for much of the afternoon;

- Dipping into the standard football textbook, Bowden and offensive coordinator Rich Rodriguez tended to run at Smith with the rushing attack, which slowed his aggression on the pass rush;

- Bowden employed a two-back set more often than any other game in his short tenure, providing quarterback Woody Dantzler with better protection;

- And finally, at times Dantzler seemed to just see where Smith aligned himself and run plays to the opposite direction.

Put it all together and the results were impressive. The offensive line allowed just one sack for a 9-yard loss, and Smith didn't get it.

"(Clemson's) no-huddle offense definitely affected him," Missouri coach Larry Smith said of his prized junior. "The quickness of which they ran their plays and their substitution pattern helped them. And most of the time they just ran away from him and (threw) the short, quick pass. It was more comparable to a three-step (drop), which he never had time to get on top of."

"We tried to run plays where either we had a pretty good blocking angle on (Smith), or run away from him," Bowden said. "The game plan by the offensive staff was pretty evident."

Dan Scott is the sports editor of Seneca Daily Journal/Clemson Daily Messenger.
His columns can be read at www.dailyjournalmessenger.com.

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