3-3-5 a rare look for Clemson

FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris has a pretty good sense of what to look for from West Virginia's 3-3-5 odd stack defense.

The defense is rare, but last season at Tulsa, Morris' only other year as a college coach, he saw plenty of the 3-3-5 odd stack. Then Tulsa head coach Todd Graham, who's now at Arizona State, runs the same defense.

"This may be something we don't see on a regular basis in the ACC, but it's something that we ran at Tulsa," Morris said. "So to attack it is a little bit different. We see it on occasion on some long yardage downs, but I think they're definitely a well coached football team, and they're going to be ready."

The 3-3-5 features three down linemen, three linebackers and five defensive backs as its base formation, as opposed to the traditional 3-4 or 4-3 looks used by most teams at the collegiate level.

Still, many of the same principles of the 3-4 are used in the 3-3-5.

Nationally, West Virginia is No. 27 in total defense with 340.4 yards allowed per game. The Mountaineers are 63rd in scoring defense with an average of 26.3 points allowed.

"I think their linebackers are probably as aggressive a group as we've seen ... they're one of the top teams in the country in pass defense," Morris said. "They like to drop quite a few back. They're going to bring their fourth defender somewhere in a rush.

"They're going to try to put some pressure on you, and then they're going to drop eight and rush three and going to try to force your quarterback to make decisions at that point."

With as many as eight dropping back into coverage, Tajh Boyd said patience will be critical to the Tigers' success next Wednesday night.

"We're just going to have to pick our shots of what we're going to do," he said.

Boyd added, "I can't be impatient with the type of defense that they run. You have to be composed and take the smaller things at first. We're going to have to start taking things short before we are able to do things we want to do and take the shots."

Dwayne Allen, who's normally a mismatch for opposing defenses, believes West Virginia has the potential to cause problems, too.

"They have skilled players all over the board. They have guys that can run and that create mismatch problems for our offense," he said. "So going into the game we're going to have to find out something we do well to get their defense. We don't see this defense -- period -- in the ACC."

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