No easy task for Clemson defense

CLEMSON – Every year, playing Georgia Tech's flexbone option offense is one of the least fun weeks for Clemson's defense.

It's the cut blocking. The monotony of quarterback-pitch-dive, over and over. Doing your assignment –and knowing that if you don't, it could lead to an 80-yard touchdown run.

Junior defensive end Corey Crawford doesn't necessarily like it – but he's ready for the challenge.

"It's a lot of reading, discipline and doing your assignments," Crawford said. "Not trying to do too much, trying to do someone else's assignment. I feel like it's going to be a challenge and something that truly defines us as a defense."

Clemson has consistently struggled to contain Tech's flexbone. Even in last year's 47-31 win, the Yellow Jackets rolled up 483 yards of total offense – 339 on the ground – and led 31-30 with 13 minutes left before Clemson scored the game's final 17 points.

This season, Tech averages 311.2 yards rushing per game, easily best in the ACC.

"They're going to do what they do," Crawford said. "A lot of teams this year haven't been able to stop it. I feel like they think they can do what they do, but we just have to be disciplined. Play our assignments."

Staying alert is key – one slip-up can cost an opposing defense dearly.

"I feel like that's easy to do," Crawford said of being lulled into a false sense of security. "But our coaching staff, everyone, just keeps telling us and pushing us to make sure you do your job. Don't go to sleep because they're not coming at you, they're going to come. It's just staying focused on our assignment."

Being active, Crawford said, is the key – it's easier to avoid the cut blocks that are a staple of Georgia Tech's offense that way.

"It's difficult, but (defensive ends) coach (Marion) Hobby always says the good ones never get cut," he said. "We've got to use our hands, prevent them from getting to our legs, play over top of them. Keep running so they can't get to your legs."

Clemson is well aware of what Tech will throw at it Thursday night. Now, the Tigers must handle it when it actually arrives.

I feel we have that confidence, just because we know what's coming," Crawford said., "The only thing we have to be ready for is them coming at us, cutting our legs, trying to take us out of the play as soon as possible. I feel like we're confident we'll get the job done."

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