2: Things that Clemson must do.
Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris preparing Tajh Boyd for LSU.
1. Jump out to an early lead and make LSU play catch-up.
All season, the Tigers have been jumped out to early leads on their opponents. Even in their two losses this season, Clemson held leads in the third quarter of 31-21 with 7:07 to go versus FSU and 14-10 to start the third versus South Carolina. If Clemson can once again jump out to an early lead in versus LSU, it will be interesting to see if the if Mettenberger and the LSU offense can come-from-behind. LSU’s run heavy offense has not had to air-it-out in a come from behind effort in any game other than Mississippi State this season.
2. Stay disciplined on defense.
One thing we know to be true about this New Year’s Eve match-up is that the LSU offense will test Clemson with play-action ability out of run-predictable offensive sets. LSU will run often to tire the Clemson defense and keep the ball away from offensive coordinator Chad Morris and the Tiger offense. Despite the heavy run, and being worn down, the Clemson defense will have to remain disciplined and not get caught with their eyes in the backfield on the play-action. If allowed, big plays by the LSU passing game will bury the Tigers.
4: Players to watch.
1. Clemson Offensive Line – The LSU defense is allowing a meager 101.8 yards per game on the ground. In both of their losses this season, Clemson prematurely abandoned the running game, and the offense suffered. One thing we know to be true is that the Clemson’s offense runs more efficiency when the running game is effective. Therefore, it’s up to the offensive line to keep All-Americans Kevin Minter and Sam Montgomery at bay, and allow Ellington and Boyd to get the Tiger ground game going.
2. Clemson’s Safeties (Jonathan Meeks, Rashard Hall & Travis Blanks). – As I stated above, the LSU offense will test Clemson with play-action ability out of run-predictable offensive sets. The Clemson safeties will be tempted to peak into the backfield and bite on that play-action. It will be up to the safeties to prevent big plays on the LSU play-action Monday night in Atlanta.
3. Zach Mettenberger, QB, LSU – The LSU offense goes the way of their four-headed monster at running back goes. However, Mettenberger has stepped up in multiple contests (Alabama & Miss St) and led the Bayou Bengal attack. Clemson will most likely focus on stopping the fun and making Mettenberg beat them.
The Clemson offensive line faces a stern test Monday night against LSU.
4. LSU Stable of Running Backs (Jeremy Hill, Kenny Hilliard, Michael Ford & Spencer Ware) – This foursome combined for 1838 yards and 20 touchdowns on the season; and average just over 5 yards per carry. If Clemson is going to have a chance in this contest, they will have to slow down this group.
7: Predictions on the game.
1. South Carolina held the Clemson offense under 38 points for the first time since week 1 versus Auburn. LSU will repeat that feat as Clemson is once again held under 38 points for only the 3rd time this season.
2. The LSU defense is allowing 16.9 points per game - Clemson will eclipse that total - barely.
3. LSU’s four-headed running back attack is averaging just over 5 yards per carry this season; they will eclipse that total versus Clemson.
4. Clemson will have 1 deep (over 25 yards) touchdown pass.
5. Clemson will be held under 100 yards rushing.
6. Like South Carolina, LSU will lead in the important time of possession statistic.
7. Despite beating Auburn in Atlanta earlier this season, Clemson’s horrors in Atlanta continue.