Wilkins on stopping Lamar Jackson: We know we can do it if we have to

by - Senior Writer -
Louisville came up short last season against the Tigers

The key to stopping Louisville’s offense is simpler to say than it is to execute – stop quarterback Lamar Jackson.

That will be the job of Clemson’s defense, and it starts with the defensive line, where defensive tackle Christian Wilkins toils.

Wilkins told the media earlier this week that the defenders have to remember to do their jobs for 60 minutes.

"First it starts off with putting together a good game plan and then you have to prepare each day and each practice with focus and intensity and gotta be really dialed in,” Wilkins said. “Because he's the best player in college football and you've got to be prepared for that. He's a really talented player and he's going to make plays, but you can't let this stop us from doing our job. Just be ready to go really. He's going to make plays and do his thing. He's a Heisman trophy winner, just gotta be ready."

Wilkins remembers last season when Jackson had an outstanding second half in the loss to the Tigers.

"It's crazy because he doesn't have the biggest frame or biggest build, but that guy is wiry strong,” Wilkins said. “He breaks a lot of tackles, really fast, can stop on a dime and make a lot of cuts and a lot of different things. You see it live then watch it on film and you're like 'Wow.' It's impressive that he can do all that stuff, but hopefully, we can put together a good game plan and be ready for him. It should be a good matchup, really excited for the challenge.”

He thinks the Tigers will be ready for the challenge.

“I just think mentally we got to be ready for whatever,” Wilkins said. “Just the guys who did play last year know we can do it if we have to, hopefully, we won't have to play 100 snaps on defense or nothing like that but we know we can do it if we need to.

"He's going to make plays and do his thing here and there but hopefully we can make more as a defense. You can't allow yourself to get frustrated and you just have to stay locked in and with the game plan and do your job and correct whatever you didn't do the last time."

Another key will be avoiding frustration when Jackson makes one of his patented big plays.

"Yeah that's what you really gotta do. That's the biggest thing I'm trying to harp on is that 'Yeah he's really good and all this and all that,' but you can't allow yourself to get frustrated,” Wilkins said. “You can't try to get caught up in anything too extra and who it is, just do your job and do what you do and things will happen for you."

The Tigers spent the first two games of the season at home, but Wilkins says he is looking forward to tonight’s road challenge.

"For me personally, I enjoy playing on the road. In some ways, it's sometimes easier to get a little more relaxed at home when you're like 'Okay if the team's off a little bit, the crowd can get us going,' but you don't have that on the road,” he said. “So you've really got to be excited and bring your own energy and be on edge. Their crowd is going in our face or whatever and I kind of feed off of that. I kind of like being on the road in that hostility, I enjoy it. You definitely have to stay locked into the game, if we're better than them then we can beat them anywhere and anytime. And if they're better than us then it should be the same for them. It shouldn't matter what time or where you play, spot the ball and play."

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