Tyler Smith/Getty Images
D.J. Howard and the other Clemson running backs will look to take pressure off Stoudt.
Establish a Run Game
On the road in a hostile environment, this key is a must. The Tigers will need to get the running game going to take pressure off Cole Stoudt. Stoudt will have to make his fair share of plays in this one, but it will mean trouble if Clemson has to rely on him to do everything.
D.J. Howard was recently named the starter, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see three or four running backs get carries in this one. There has to be a solid run game in Chad Morris’ offense to establish rhythm also. Positive runs up the middle and to the outside will help set up the play-action pass that we have seen Morris go to early.
Make Hutson Mason Beat You
If the Tigers lose this one, it has to be because of Hutson Mason. Clemson will need to do whatever it takes, even if it’s loading the box, to slow down Todd Gurley. He is easily the best running back in the nation, and he has the potential to break off long runs.
The Tigers need to keep constant pressure on Mason and make him throw the ball. Clemson’s secondary certainly has a lot of potential, but Mackensie Alexander hasn’t played a college snap yet, and Cordrea Tankersley has seen a small amount of snaps on defense. If the Tigers are able to keep defensive linemen in Mason’s face, it will make it that much easier on the secondary.
Limit the Mistakes
This is the biggest key of the game for the Tigers. Being on the road, with new faces on offense, means that the window for mistakes is very small. Stoudt will need to play efficiently and not force throws down the field. The biggest thing for Stoudt is taking what the defense gives him and sometimes settling for the check-down receiver.
The Tigers have to also limit the mistakes on defense. We have seen the defense give up big plays, such as in the Orange Bowl versus Ohio State. As TigerNet.com’s Nikki Steele points out, the Tigers gave up 11 plays against the Buckeyes that went for 15 yards or more.