2017 College Football Playoff National Championship Game Preview Series: Clemson Defense

Written By: Brett Korpi
Welcome to the fifth part of our series of previews leading up to the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship Game. Which, is the much-hyped rematch between No. 1 Alabama and No. 2 Clemson. Today we will break down the Clemson defense.

When Clemson shutout out Ohio State, 31-0, in the Fiesta Bowl, college football fans around the country took notice. The Tigers have not only one of the best offenses in the country, but also an elite defense.

However, die-hard fans will tell you that this is nothing new. The Tigers are the eighth-ranked defense in the country, and boast a duo at defensive tackle that combined have 17.5 sacks, which Is unusual for the position.

In last season’s high-scoring affair in the College Football Playoff National Championship game, the Tigers struggled to contain the Crimson Tide offense. What the shutout of Ohio State showed, is that Clemson’s defense can shut down teams. That should worry the Roll Tide faithful.

The Tigers defense features four players that were named to All-American teams. Defensive Tackle Carlos Watkins earned second team honors for his 73 tackles and 10.5 sack season.

Linebacker Ben Boulware, defensive end Christian Wilkins and Cordrea Tankersly earned third team distinction.

Boulware, Clemson’s vocal leader, finished first on the team in total tackles with 121. He added four sacks and an interception to his campaign. Tankersly gained his honors with four interceptions, 59 tackles and ten pass breakups. Wilkins was a common presence in the opponent’s backfield this season. He had 13.5 tackles for loss, six sacks and 17 quarterback hurries.

The Tigers were able to contain some of the best offenses in college football, beating the likes of Louisville and Florida State earlier this year. However, at times speed and up-tempo were a recipe for success against the unit. Highlighted in their 43-42 loss to Pittsburgh.

What could spell trouble for Clemson is the presence of Alabama’s new offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian, who is said to be looking to run a “fast and tempo” based scheme.

If Clemson is able to find a way to counter the Alabama offensive attack, they will not only make a statement. They could be champions.

The College Football Playoff National Championship will be played on Monday, January 9th at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. Check back tomorrow for our final game preview and prediction.

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