LSU coach Les Miles has challenged his team in regard to Clemson running back Andre Ellington.
Both coach Miles and All-America defensive back Eric Reid said Friday that stopping Clemson's running game will be the key to beating the Tigers in the Chick-fil-A Bowl on New Year's Eve at the Georgia Dome.
The Tigers' running game, of course, is in large part Ellington. In more than one game during his career, as the first-team All-ACC running back goes, so go the Tigers.
That says something of significance about the inter-related nature of the running game and the passing game in Chad Morris' offense.
"Anytime you have a quarterback that has mobility that they have and a thousand yard back, the running game is a key piece to it," said Miles on Friday. "And there will be a significant piece of that game plan that will be devoted to stopping the run."
LSU's emphasis on stopping the run doubles the ante for Clemson's offensive line, as well. Providing adequate protection, and time, for Tajh Boyd is the offensive line's No. 1 challenge against an LSU defense that thrives on disrupting opposing quarterbacks.
Miles said LSU's defense against Boyd has to encompass pressure, downfield coverage and run containment.
"There has to be a point in time where you keep him in the pocket and you play coverage and there's an opportunity to rush the passer with four guys," Miles said. "I think anytime a quarterback can pull it down and go get yards, there's an added responsibility to those guys that are rushing the ball, rushing the passer.
'And so, again, it's something that you have to do with more than one strategy. You must rush the passer. You must contain him when you step back and let him throw it and to have coverage. And, yeah, he does pose a nice threat."
Reid said Boyd's versatility makes Ellington all the more dangerous, and vice versa.
"I'm given the difficult task of defending both the pass and the run, and they have a very explosive running back - extremely quick," Reid said. "Before you know it he'll be around the edge and running up the sidelines. So for me and as far as the secondary, we have to play both roles. The safeties have to trust their keys if the line is blocking down, you have to field the run, you have to field the alley. But if there's pass protection you have to get back and help the corners out.
"Clemson is blessed with a bunch of players that are very fast. So we just gotta stay on top of our game, be just as fast as they are and make quick decisions and make the right decisions."