LSU Projected Starters
WLB: Lamin Barrow (Jr., 6-2, 232)
MLB: Kevin Minter (Jr., 6-2, 245)
SLB: Lamar Louis (Fr., 6-0, 220)
CB: Tharold Simon (Jr., 6-3, 193)
FS: Eric Reid (Jr., 6-2, 212)
SS: Craig Loston (Jr., 6-2, 205)
CB: Jalen Mills (Fr., 6-0, 185)
Key Rotational Players: LB Kwon Alexander (Fr., 6-2, 215), CB Jalen Collins (Fr., 6-2, 195), S Ronald Martin (So., 6-1, 202)
Clemson Projected Starters
QB: Tahj Boyd (Jr., 6-1, 230)
RB: Andre Ellington (Sr., 5-10, 190)
WR: Jaron Brown (Sr., 6-2, 200)
WR: DeAndre Hopkins (Jr., 6-1, 195)
WR: Sammy Watkins (So., 6-1, 180)
TE: Brandon Ford (Sr., 6-4, 235)
Breaking Down the Matchup
Entering the matchup with LSU, Clemson lays claim to one of the top offenses in all of college football. Offensive Coordinator Chad Morris has had yet another successful season at the reigns for the Tigers of the East. In 2012 Clemson ranks ninth in total offense (518.3 YPG) and sixth in scoring offense (42.3 PPG).
On offense, Clemson is led by Junior quarterback Tahj Boyd. On the season Boyd has thrown for 3,550 yards and 34 touchdowns, to go along with 13 interceptions. Boyd is also a threat to run the football, as he has accumulated 492 yards on the ground with nine touchdowns. It should be very apparent as to who Coach Dabo Swinney will turn to if the game is on the line.
DeAndre Hopkins has become a favorite target of Boyd in the passing game, collecting 69 receptions for 1,214 yards and 16 touchdowns on the season. Sammy Watkins is another dangerous weapon in the Clemson passing attack. Watkins has 57 receptions for 708 yards and three touchdowns on the season.
Another key aspect of the Clemson offense is tight-end Brandon Ford. Ford has 411 yards receiving and has shown that he is quite a red-zone threat, collecting eight touchdowns.
In addition to the Clemson rushing attack receiving contributions from the quarterback position, the Tiger ground game is led by Senior Andre Ellington. Ellington has rushed for 1,031 yards and 8 touchdowns in 2012.
With such a variety of weapons on the Clemson squad, LSU is sure to have its hands full in trying to contain the Palmetto Tigers. Given the strength of the Clemson passing game, LSU fans will likely see a lot of Jalen Collins and Micah Eugene on the field trying to contain the Clemson attack.
While the key to stopping the Clemson offense will likely take place up front, on the LSU defensive line, the linebackers will also be heavily relied on to get pressure on Tahj Boyd. If the Bayou Bengals are successful in not allowing Boyd to get into a rhythm, it will make the job of John Chavis much easier.
LSU fans should fully expect to see Clemson try to spread LSU out, early and often. Because of the dynamics of the Clemson offense, the LSU defense will have to be extremely disciplined, and be prepared for whatever is thrown at them.
The number of playmakers in the Clemson attack will make it very difficult for the LSU defense to key on any one player. In addition keeping Boyd out of rhythm, LSU will also have to make a conscious effort to stop the 1,000-yard rusher in the Clemson backfield.
LSU linebacker Kevin Minter will be heavily relied upon in the game. Regardless of the formation that the LSU defense is in, the junior will most likely not leave the field often during the contest. Minter will be a catalyst to stopping the Clemson rushing attack as well as getting pressure on Tahj Boyd.
As stated above, sticking to assignments will be key to the success of LSU in this game and it is something that has been made known in the weeks leading up to the matchup. LSU will have several young players on the field throughout the game, with top reserves being Kwon Alexander and Jalen Collins, both freshmen. So, sticking to assignments will be the most important thing.
Another hopeful candidate to see the field on Monday will be linebacker Tahj Jones, who missed the regular season after being ruled academically ineligible. The return of Jones will definitely allow for LSU to run out of their base defense, if he can get up to speed quick enough.
PREVIEW: Clemson O skill vs. LSU D skill
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