CLEMSON, S.C. — Alabama’s defense — particularly its front-seven — has been one of the most talked-about units in college football this season. No team gave up fewer yards (70.8 yards per game) per game on the ground than the Crimson Tide, and the names among the defensive line and linebacker corps scream Sunday football.
Forget yards per game, says Clemson offensive guard Eric Mac Lain, the Clemson offense has something Alabama hasn’t seen yet in the 2015 season.
“They’re No. 1 in a lot of categories, but I don’t think they’ve really been tested running the ball,” said Mac Lain. “They’ve given up 70 yards a game, so they’ve been a pretty dominant force.”
But Clemson offers two 1,000-yard rushers in Wayne Gallman (1,482) and Deshaun Watson (1,032). When a team can put two of the ACC’s top 10 rushers on the field at once, it can provide a look Alabama might have trouble with. Take into account Watson gained his yardage from the quarterback position, and that adds another unique wrinkle.
“Sometimes we don’t know who has the ball, we just block to the best of our ability and they’ll squeak out,” Mac Lain said. “It’s been great to have that two-headed monster back there, and they’re hot right now.”
Saying Alabama hasn’t been tested yet, might be a huge slap in the face to then-Heisman front-runner Leonard Fournette from LSU. Alex Collins — the nation’s 12th-ranked rusher with 1,577 yards — also can gripe a little with Mac Lain’s assessment.
To Mac Lain’s point, however … no one on Alabama’s schedule can offer a pair of accomplished rushers out of the backfield from two unique positions like the running back-quarterback tandem of Gallman and Watson.
With a front-seven like Alabama’s though, will having two rushing weapons be enough for Clemson to compete?