Bowl challenge much the same as last year for Clemson's defensive line

DeShawn Williams: 'They're big and nasty and fast. They'll bloody your nose, get after you, take no prisoners and will try to finish you'

Football - DeShawn Williams and Grady Jarrett

Photo by Mark Crammer

Football - DeShawn Williams and Grady Jarrett

A year ago, pre-game doubters said that Clemson's defensive front would be no match for LSU's aggressive and physical offensive line.

The Tigers won some matches and lost some matches, but by the time the Chick-fil-A Bowl was over, everyone was talking about how Clemson's defensive line changed the game in the Tigers' favor.

This bowl season, Ohio State will throw in some offensive wrinkles that LSU didn't have in its arsenal; but for Clemson's defensive front, the challenge is much the same.

"First, we've just got to do our jobs," said junior defensive tackle and former Daniel High standout DeShawn Williams. "This is the same kind of game for us as last year. Like LSU, they're big up front and they get after you.

"What I see on tape is a team that's nasty up front, with a great running game. They're big and nasty and fast. They'll bloody your nose, get after you, take no prisoners and will try to finish you, overpower you and put their will on you. We need to show 'em that we can play with them."

To do that, Williams said improved gap discipline will be essential. The last time out, the Tigers were schooled on that subject by South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw, who repeatedly took advantage of over-plays and poor positioning by Clemson's defensive front.

"The key is don't over-stride and get off and out of position," Williams said. "Collapse the pocket, and don't let the center or guard or tackle widen you out. We saw that we needed to be more tight in our rush lanes and collapse the pocket."

Williams said that Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller has the ability to do even more damage than Shaw.

"Braxton has speed - he's a 4.2 or 4.3 guy," Williams said. "In this type of game, a BCS game, we know that all eyes are going to be on us that night. Everybody's got to stay in their lane and do their job, mind your P's and Q's, and don't try to do somebody else's job.

"With a player like Miller, you can't get over your gap. Because if you do, he'll find those gaps, and with the speed he last, he'll burst through it and make a house call. He's fast enough to do that."

The Buckeyes complement Miller with one of the nation's most productive running backs in Carlos Hyde.

"When I watch Carlos Hyde, I see a big back with quick feet," Williams said. "I know in their Northwestern game, they had their grass cut kind of high to try to slow him down. But he's a big, strong runner with quick feet, and if you don't tackle him, he'll run away from you.

"They do what they do best, and that's run the ball. If they need to pass it, then they'll pass it. But you know they're going to run it. It's one of those games where you know it's going to come, and we just have anchor down, play a really physical ball game, and love it."

Williams says a victory over the likes of Ohio State would set things right for the Tigers going into the off-season.

"This is our last game, and our last chance to reach one of our goals," he said. "So it's go hard, or go home. That's the way we're approaching it in practice. We're approaching this game like it's a one-game season.

"Winning the bowl game is important to us. You've got that momentum you carry with you, and nobody's talking bad about you. And beating Ohio State would erase a bad taste. The last time we went to the Orange Bowl, it wasn't very pleasant.

"We're playing against 'The Ohio State Buckeyes.' We know that they're big-time, and we know they don't respect us. We just want to show them how us Southern boys can play."

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