CLEMSON, SC -- Taking into consideration Clemson has defeated The Citadel 13 consecutive time dating back to 1931 and holds a 28-5-1 advantage in the all-time series between the two schools, you wonder how anyone dressed in orange could possibly be worried about the Bulldogs.
But the Clemson defense will face an offensive system - the flexbone -
predicated on deception and trickiness when the No. 17 Tigers open up the season with its cross-state foe today at 6 p.m. in Death Valley.
The Bulldogs of the Southern Conference employ the offense made famous by fellow SoCon member, Georgia Southern. The Citadel will line up primarily in a wing-T formation, with the wingbacks doing a lot of pre-snap motion, then giving a healthy dose of misdirection and option to an opposing defense.
Judging from Clemson middle linebacker Chad Carson’s statements, that means little, if anything.
“Our goal is to have a shutout,” the 6-foot-3, 235-pound junior said. “I’m not going to guarantee it. But any good defense, and we hopefully are a good defense, wants a shutout. That’s what we’re shooting for.”
But can’t the flexbone - which prides itself on keeping the ball away from an opponent’s offense with long, ball controlling, clock-eating drives totally frustrate a defense?
“If they start running (the offense) well, it can get frustrating,” said Carson. “But it can also be rewarding if you can play against it well. If we go into the game prepared, we can do a good job of (shutting it down). But you can’t slack off for a minute during the game or they’ll burn you for a touchdown.”
Indeed, slacking off is not an option - pardon the pun.
Playing a predominately option-oriented team means toning down aggression defensively. Shutting down an option team is all about assignment football. Instead of swarming to the football, players have to remain disciplined.
“You really have to stay on your toes to defend it well,” Carson said of stopping the ‘Dogs’ offense. “Every single play looks the same, whether the quarterback has the ball or the fullback has the ball or whether they pitch it. The way they run it, they really get on top of you fast. And if you hesitate for a second, they’ll get on the corner and beat you.”
Dan Scott is the sports editor of Seneca Daily Journal/Clemson Daily Messenger.
His columns can be read at www.dailyjournalmessenger.com.