By: Jacob Putnam
Josh Watson faces a tough test against the physical LSU offensive line.
With less than a week until Clemson goes to battle against LSU in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl, Clemson247 takes a look at five things Clemson needs to do in order to beat the Tigers from Baton Rouge.
1. Walk the walk
Josh Watson has been pretty good at backing up his word all season. After Wednesday’s practice, Watson was quoted as saying “They (LSU) aren’t any bigger or stronger than I am. They put their pads on the same way we do.”
LSU will be the most physical team, from top to bottom, Clemson has played all year. Clemson has played tough defenses in Florida State and South Carolina, but have yet to play an offensive line as physical as LSU’s.
In order for Clemson to win the defensive line is going to have to play their best game of the season against LSU’s physical rushing attack.
2. Execute on special teams
Clemson has had shaky kick coverage at times this year, and that could pose a problem against LSU.
An effective Andre Ellington will be vital for Clemson.
Michael Ford is averaging 25 yards per kick return, and Odell Beckham Jr. has taken two punt returns to the house.
Dabo Swinney has hinted at some personnel changes on Special Teams for the bowl game hoping to fix the coverage problems.
3. Clemson’s offensive line better come ready to play
Just like Clemson’s defensive line, Clemson’s offensive line needs to play their best game of the season against LSU.
Clemson needs to have success in the passing game to open up the run, and that all starts with Clemson offensive line giving Tajh Boyd time in the pocket to do what he does best.
When Tajh Boyd struggles it's because of opposing defensive lines pressure. If LSU’s defensive line is able to have their way with Clemson’s OL, it could be a long night.
4. Andre Ellington needs to have a big game
With this being Andre Ellington’s last game in a Clemson uniform, and with scouts from every NFL team watching, a big game could do wonders for Ellington’s draft stock.
Keeping pressure off Tajh Boyd will be critical against the LSU defensive line.
Clemson has shown they can run the ball against great defensive lines, and having a productive run game will be vital to keeping LSU’s defense honest.
This game is also another audition for reserve running back Rod McDowell to prove he can be the feature back next year.
McDowell has done extremely well as a change of pace back this year, and another solid game against a very good defense can only elevate his stock in the coaches eyes and prove that he can tote the rock 15-20 times a game next season.
5. This game is important for recruiting
In my opinion, Dabo Swinney is the best recruiter in the nation. Some of the recruits he's brought to Clemson are simply amazing (obviously C.J. Spiller is the first to come to mind).
But imagine for a second how much easier recruiting would be if you can say you beat two SEC teams in a season. Now I know Auburn wasn’t all that hot this year, but they are still a huge name in college football. This game against LSU is the only game being played on Sunday night.
A win over LSU would do wonders for Clemson’s recruiting momentum heading into the homestretch for the 2013 class.
Nothing better to sell a recruit than win over LSU to finish the season and point to Clemson's first game of 2013 in Death Valley against Georgia.
This is a statement game for Dabo Swinney.