Offense or defense? Unlike many bowls, Clemson-LSU features best of both worlds

Swinney says LSU defense 'built for championships;' Miles says Clemson offense 'speaks to' Boyd

Clemson Tigers quarterback Tajh Boyd looks for an open receiver in the second quarter.

Photo by Nathan Gray

Clemson Tigers quarterback Tajh Boyd looks for an open receiver in the second quarter.

Offense fills the stands, drives the bidding war for new and innovative coaches, and may be about to reshape the Atlantic Coast and Southeastern conferences.

But for now, it's still defense that wins championships.

An Associated Press article earlier this week pointed out that for the fourth straight year, scoring rose during the regular season, with FBS schools averaging 29.6 points per game. That's up from 28.3 per game last season, from 27 in 2009.

You wouldn't know it from looking at the top of the BCS Standings.

Notre Dame, Alabama and Florida are ranked 1-2-3, and they line up in the same order in critical statistical category - points allowed.

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The top-ranked Fighting Irish lead the nation, allowing just 10.3 points per game. BCS title opponent Alabama is second at 10.7, and the third-ranked Gators are allowing 12.9 points per contest.

The national championship game is shaping up as a slugfest of the old fashioned variety - defense dominated, with field position of high importance, every possession to be cherished, and every scoring opportunity to be taken advantage of. Points will be precious.

That's likely to be less the case when Texas A&M tangles with Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl, with both teams averaging better than 500 yards and 40 points per game.

Meanwhile, there may not be a better strength vs. strength matchup in the 35-bowl field than Clemson against LSU in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.

Clemson, 10-2, will go into the game ranked sixth in the nation in scoring (42.33), ninth in total offense (518.33), 13th in passing yardage (319.58), fourth in passing efficiency (165.45) and 32nd in rushing yardage (198.75).

LSU, also 10-2, ranks eighth nationally in total defense (296.17), ninth in rushing defense (101.83) and passing efficiency defense (103.43), and 11th in scoring defense (16.92).

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney is well-acquainted with LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis, who he played and coached against at Alabama, while Chavis was at Tennessee.

"Their defense is as good as it gets," Swinney said on Monday. "I've known Coach Chavis a long time, and he always has one of the top defenses year in and year out.

"Their defense is built for championships. That's how they recruit and how they develop depth. It's an outstanding group. Their front four is as good as any I've seen. We'll have to figure out how to contain some of their pass rushers. They have great cover guys they can match up with you. It will be a very competitive match-up for sure."

LSU head coach Les Miles is equally concerned with preventing the Clemson offense from hitting its stride.

Miles noted that Clemson has six first-team All-ACC offensive players, led by record-setting quarterback Tajh Boyd.

"(Boyd) is as talented a quarterback prospect as we have faced this season," said Miles. "He has the ability to extend plays with his feet and gain ground with his feet.

"Their offense speaks to him. It does the things that he does well and gets the most out of his talent, and his talent is very capable. I see Tajh Boyd as somebody we're going to have to consider when we game plan. You don't affect great players, you just try to contain them."

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Comments » 5

TigerNE writes:

One of the key goals for our offense and especially the O-line is to prevent Montgomery and Mingo from getting to Boyd. They have about a dozen sacks between the two alone. Not an X-Os guy myself, but I can predict those two will be gunning completely for Boyd. And pressure gets in his head too often.

Bigboots writes:

in response to TigerNE:

One of the key goals for our offense and especially the O-line is to prevent Montgomery and Mingo from getting to Boyd. They have about a dozen sacks between the two alone. Not an X-Os guy myself, but I can predict those two will be gunning completely for Boyd. And pressure gets in his head too often.

Can somebody get word to Chad Morris and Robbie Caldwell?
LSU may rush the passer.

Xander5000 writes:

Somebody needs to tell Venables , Brooks, Hobby, and Harbison that the defense MUST CONTINUE TO WRAP UP AND TACKLE ALL GAME LONG!!!.......And get to Metenburger!!!

TigerNE writes:

in response to Bigboots:

Can somebody get word to Chad Morris and Robbie Caldwell?
LSU may rush the passer.

Thanks for illuminating us and elevating the discussion (I'm assuming you are being cynical about my point). I'll await your contributions to key weaknesses and strengths in the upcoming game.............

Ranger-75 writes:

Come on Tigers, what's up with all the negative comments and complaints the players and coachs are working HARD to close out strong with a win in Atlanta.....I can see this Clemson program moving from good to great.
Keep the faith....Go Tigers

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