Chick-fil-A Bowl: Andre Ellington Will Be Crucial Key for Clemson vs. LSU

Tim KeeneyContributor IDecember 31, 2012

CLEMSON, SC - NOVEMBER 17:  Andre Ellington #23 of the Clemson Tigers jumps over Earl Wolff #27 of the North Carolina State Wolfpack during their game at Memorial Stadium on November 17, 2012 in Clemson, South Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

The Clemson Tigers have a hoard of talented offensive skill players, but against the other Tigers of LSU, Andre Ellington will be the most important of all of them. 

Simply put, Les Miles' squad will turn the Chick-fil-A Bowl into a classic SEC battle. It will slow the game down, grind it out in the trenches, rely on its defense and make it an ugly affair that you probably don't want to watch. 

When you have players like Kevin Minter, Sam Montgomery, Anthony Johnson and Barkevious Mingo—who all help make up one of the most ferocious front sevens in the country—it's pretty simple to play that kind of menacing style.

Unfortunately for Clemson, which likes to speed the game up and score touchdowns like they're going out of style, slowing the pace of a football game is much easier to do than quickening it. 

As such, LSU is going to make things difficult on quarterback Tajh Boyd. The talented junior quarterback is elusive in the pocket and knows how to escape pressure, but he's never faced pass-rushers like Montgomery and Mingo, who are a large part in LSU ranking 34th in the nation in sacks.

Because of what figures to be defenders in his face all day, Boyd won't be able to use DeAndre Hopkins and Sammy Watkins, who make up arguably the most talented non-USC wide-receiver duo in the nation, as much as he would normally like.

Hopkins and Watkins are too skilled to be shut down completely, but with less time in the pocket, it won't be easy to use them as deep threats. Just look at Clemson's recent clash with South Carolina, another hard-nosed SEC team, for proof. 

Enter Ellington. 

At 5'9", 190 pounds, the explosive running back doesn't have ideal size for a running back, but his elusiveness—in between tackles and separating himself from defenders—is second to none.

In short, he's a home-run threat, but he has proven during his career with the Tigers that he can be relied upon as a workhorse back, as well.

Ellington not only will have to carry a large load in order to open up the passing game, but he'll have to break open a few of his patented long runs to help tire LSU's dangerous defenders. 

As that one bad guy from Taken would say, "Good luck."