Tigers prepare for complex defense of Syracuse
Tee Higgins thought the fans were booing him at home Saturday

Tigers prepare for complex defense of Syracuse

by - Staff Writer -

CLEMSON – If Clemson is going to sprint into the open week, the Tigers will need a big offensive performance Friday night against Syracuse.

That means everyone from the offensive line to the quarterback to the running backs to the wide receivers and tight ends will need to be locked in as they face a complicated defensive scheme employed by the Orange.

Syracuse ranks 46th in total defense giving up 357 yards per game – 226 yards through the air (69th nationally) and 131 yards rushing (46th) – and just over 24 points per game, good for 54th in college football.

Clemson offensive coordinator Jeff Scott told the media earlier this week, that not only will Syracuse try to get pressure on the quarterback, but they’ll also play a lot of exotic coverages behind the rush.

“They do a really good job on defense, probably the most complex defense - aside from Boston College - that we have played this year,” Scott told the media Monday afternoon. “They bring pressures and blitzes about 48 percent of the time. They are always going to have guys trying to get in the backfield. They also do a really good job with the coverages behind it. A lot of times when people are bringing a lot of pressure and blitz you only get one or two coverages behind it, but these guys are playing a lot of combo coverage and mix it up and show you a lot of different looks.”

Scott said that he will continue to look to young players like Diondre Overton, T.J. Chase Amari Rodgers and Tee Higgins to be a big part of the game plan because they’ve proven they can handle whatever is thrown their way.

“I think that is the normal progression for a young guy that is kind of feeling it out,” Scott said. “Tee (and other guys as well - Amari Rogers, T.J. Chase - we have got some very talented young guys that have made a bunch of big plays in practice against a very talented group of DB's that they go against every day. It was good Saturday for him to get in there.

“I thought it was awesome on the second drive of the game Diondre Overton goes in and makes a big-time catch. Those are the things as coaches that you get excited about it. It's not always just about that one game, it's about the big picture. We have a lot of guys that we feel like can help us as we get ready down the second half of the season.”

While Higgins is starting to come into his own on the field, he’s still not too sure about the fans – or what they’re saying.

“I'm really pleased with where Tee is and I just think he is just going to get more and more comfortable,” he said. “He was a little bit uneasy because at one point he thought they (the crowd) were booing him and some of the players had to tell him on the sideline that they were actually saying 'Tee,' like they used to say ‘Nuk’. He said, 'Why are they booing me?' We told him he'll figure it out, but we had a good laugh about that.”

Syracuse is the last hurdle standing in Clemson’s path before a much-needed break, Scott said he expects the players – young and veteran – to give everything they have Friday night in the Carrier Dome.

“It will be very important this week for everyone to be on the same page with all of the different looks that we're going to get from them,” he said. “Our offensive guys are confident and ready to go. It's a new week and Coach Swinney's challenge to our guys has really been to sprint to the finish line right here before the open week. There have been a lot of good things in the first six games and we really want to put an exclamation point here on the last game before we have the open week.”

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