Tigers preparing for Cardinals and Lamar "Action" Jackson


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Jackson runs to daylight against FSU (Photo by Jamie Rhodes, USAT)
Jackson runs to daylight against FSU (Photo by Jamie Rhodes, USAT)

Clemson’s defensive players returned home following Thursday’s win over Georgia Tech, and many immediately began watching film of Louisville, hoping to get a head start on the clash with Action Jackson.

Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson has been the talk of college football during the season’s first four weeks, and with good reason. The sophomore signal-caller accounted for seven touchdowns in leading the Cardinals to a 59-28 win over Marshall to improve to 4-0. He passed for 417 yards (with five touchdowns) and another 62 yards on the ground (with two more touchdowns).

Jackson has 1,301 passing yards (13 touchdown passes) and 510 rushing yards (12 touchdowns) this season, and he's played in only 11 quarters. His 25 touchdowns are more than any FBS player has had through four games since at least 2000, per ESPN, and he's on pace to score 75 touchdowns in the regular season.

Clemson defensive back Ryan Carter knows the Tigers are in for a stiff test.

“He's definitely a special player. Not a lot of players are doing the things that he's doing right now,” Carter said of the matchup with the Cardinals and Jackson. “Our mindset is that we have to find a way to minimize the great things that he's doing. That's why we study film and things of that nature. He's definitely a special player. He's doing great things on the field right now so it's going to take a great team effort to slow him down and bring him down.”

Clemson shut down Georgia Tech’s vaunted triple option offense in the 26-7 win last Thursday, holding the Jackets to just 124 total yards, the fewest yards the Jackets have gained in Paul Johnson's nine seasons at the helm. Georgia Tech's seven points matched the fewest that it has scored in an ACC game under Johnson, and Carter said the Clemson defense was completely focused on stopping Tech and not looking ahead to Louisville.

“We were really focused on Georgia Tech and coming down here and getting the win because it’s been a while since we’ve won here,” Carter said. “We are taking it one game at a time, and we were focused on beating Georgia Tech. Now we can go home and get focused on Louisville.

“We will have to take a look at the film from last year and see how they attacked us, and then see how they are attacking teams with him this year. The way he is playing right now is exceptional and we will have to find a way to slow him down. I do think he is playing more confident and you can see that in the way he is playing. Sometimes you need a year of maturity to really excel and that is what is happening with him right now.”

Carter said the Tigers will have to find a way to keep Jackson in the pocket and make him beat Clemson with his arm.

“I think it's just different types of schemes (on how to stop Jackson). He loves to scramble and things of that nature so we've got to find a way to keep him in the pocket and make him throw the ball more instead of running and things like that,” he said. “It just depends on what type of scheme we're going to have to put up against him. It's going to be tough but it will take a great scheme.”

The game will also feature a battle of the preseason favorite to win the Heisman Trophy (Deshaun Watson) and the current front-runner in Jackson.

Carter said the Tigers could best prepare for Jackson by practicing against Watson.

“They're both great quarterbacks, at least right now. What we see in Deshaun is basically the same type of thing that we see in practice every day,” Carter said. “If we can find a way to play Lamar Jackson the way we play Deshaun in practice, I don't think it will be that much of a difference, but there are still that Lamar Jackson does that Deshaun might not do or things that Deshaun does that Lamar Jackson might not do. It's still going to take a good effort.”

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