LSU vs. Clemson: How Tajh Boyd and the Tiger Offense Can Exploit Les Miles' D

Barrett SalleeSEC Football Lead WriterDecember 12, 2012

LSU CB Jalen Mills
LSU CB Jalen MillsBrett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The Chick-fil-A Bowl between Clemson and LSU is one of the most intriguing non-BCS bowls of the holiday season, pitting Clemson's potent offense against the stingy LSU defense.

Tiger head coach Les Miles and defensive coordinator John Chavis will have their work cut out for them dealing with quarterback Tajh Boyd, wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins and the rest of offensive coordinator Chad Morris' hurry-up, no-huddle attack.

Will LSU be able to slow the ACC's Tigers down?

Containing Boyd will be Job No. 1.

Boyd led the ACC in total offense this season, averaging 336.8 yards per game. The junior completed 66.6 percent of his passes for 3,550 yards and 34 touchdowns, and rushed for 492 yards and nine touchdowns. 

His accolades vaulted him into the early discussion for the 2013 Heisman Trophy, should he stick around for his senior season.

But a quarterback is only as good as his supporting cast, and Boyd has plenty of weapons surrounding him. 

DeAndre Hopkins finished the season with 1,214 yards and 16 touchdowns, Sammy Watkins—last season's freshman phenom—caught 57 passes for 708 yards and three touchdowns and running back Andre Ellington rushed 201 times for 1,031 yards and eight touchdowns.

So how can Clemson exploit LSU's defense?

By loosening the secondary with big plays to Watkins and Hopkins early.

That means cornerbacks Jalen Mills and Tharold Simon may have to have uncharacteristically bad games. You can't be one-dimensional against a defense that's as good as LSU's, so if Boyd can keep LSU's defense honest, the whole Clemson play book will open up and Boyd and Ellington will have bigger holes to run through.

If Mills and Simon can shut down Hopkins and Watkins, it will allow LSU's fast and physical front seven to key on the run, and it'll be game over.

The Chick-fil-A Bowl has the chance to be one of the most intriguing SEC matchups of the bowl season. Clemson has the weapons and the scheme to put up video game numbers on anyone, but LSU has top-tier defensive personnel and coaches that can shut down any team in the country.

It should make for an exciting New Year's Eve in the Georgia Dome.