CLEMSON, S.C.– Junior linebacker Travis Blanks has gone up against plenty of talented running backs in his career, but he doesn’t quite know where Alabama’s Derrick Henry fits into the mix.
That’s partially because he has yet to tackle the 6-foot-3, 242-pound beast. But even in watching the Heisman Trophy-winner’s film, Blanks couldn’t draw any comparison to Henry. He’s faced off against former LSU running back Jeremy Hill, former UGA great Todd Gurley and Florida State’s Dalvin Cook, but none portrayed the same running style as the Yulee, Fla., native.
“On film, he’s unique,” Blanks said. “He’s kind of his own category, because I wouldn’t say he’s like a Todd Gurley because Gurley, I would say is a step faster than he is, and not as tall or big. I wouldn’t say he’s a Dalvin Cook because Dalvin a little bit quicker and faster as well. So I think I would kind of put him in his own category as far as the running backs I’ve played against.”
Even if Blanks is able to categorize him by Monday night’s national title game, it doesn’t mean that Clemson will be able to stop him. The big back has collected 2,061 rushing yards and 25 touchdowns this season while taking home a ton of national hardware. The Crimson Tide’s game plan has been no secret, as Henry amassed 110 carries in the past three games.
“Those guys up front, this offensive line sets the tempo, and then obviously that No. 2. I mean, they just beat you to death with that guy. He’s a different animal,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said.
The Tigers know what they are up against. The question is can they stop it?