The Clemson Tigers have the arduous task of facing one of the country’s most dangerous defensive lines Monday night against Alabama in the College Football Playoff championship game. Clemson co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott compared the depth of the group to none other than Kentucky’s Final Four team during the 2014-15 basketball season.
Alabama’s defensive line features the likes of All-SEC first-teamers A’Shawn Robinson and Jonathan Allen, who have both combined for 79 total tackles including a whopping 22 tackles for loss. But beyond the starting four, even Alabama’s backups such as Da’Shawn Hand, Tim Williams, and D.J. Pettaway, Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban is consistently able to rotate fresh guys in the trenches and get consistent production out of them. Williams is second on the team with 12.5 tackles for loss.
Scott compared the unit to John Calipari’s 38-1 Kentucky team from last season.
“That combination is exactly what you would draw up for a defensive line. They’ve got big guys, they’ve got quick feet, they’re very powerful, they do a great job of using their hands. And I think the biggest thing is the depth. Scott said Tuesday.” Typically at most colleges they roll the next group in there and they’re good solid players. This group of linemen reminds me of last year’s Kentucky basketball team. When they roll in the second group, they’re just as good as the first group. So that’ll definitely be a challenge for our guys up front every play.”
The 2014-15 Kentucky basketball team went 38-1 last season — it’s lone loss came against Wisconsin in the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament. The starting lineup featured Karl Anthony-Towns, Willy Cauley-Stein and Andrew Harrison, but Calipari was able to rotate player like Tyler Ullis, Devon Booker and Dakari Johnson in for the starting five without seemingly missing a beat.
Alabama’s defense will be going up against Clemson’s high-powered offense, led by quarterback Deshaun Watson. Scott added that one of the things he liked most in the 37-17 win over Oklahoma in the Playoff semifinal last week was how many plays his unit was able to run, which he believes had a major effect on the Sooners defense, especially in the second half.
“Tempo will be a big thing for us,” Scott said. “We were really pleased getting 90 plays against Oklahoma. Our goal is 80 plays and so that was a big part and I think we did successfully wear them down.”