Projected LSU starters
DE: Sam Montgomery (Jr., 6-5, 260)
DT: Bennie Logan (Jr., 6-3, 295)
DT: Josh Downs (Sr., 6-1, 287)
DE: Barkevious Mingo (Jr., 6-5, 240)
Key Rotational Players: DE/DT Lavar Edwards (Sr., 6-5, 258), DT Anthony Johnson (So., 6-3, 304)
Projected Clemson Starters
LT: Brandon Thomas (Jr., 6-4, 300)
LG: David Beasley (So., 6-4, 315)
C: Dalton Freeman (Sr., 6-5, 285)
RG: Tyler Shatley (Jr., 6-3, 295)
RT: Gifford Timothy (So., 6-6, 315)
Breaking down the matchup
The defensive success of the LSU Tigers always seems to hinge on what is happening up front and in the trenches. Their matchup with Clemson on New Years Eve will be no different. The LSU front four, led by end Sam Montgomery, has the potential to be a game changing force.
The LSU defense enters the contest ranked eighth nationally in total defense, allowing an average of 296.1 yards per game. The Tigers have also been able to apply decent pressure to opposing quarterbacks all season, ranking 29th nationally with 30 total sacks.
With LSU facing a powerful offense in Clemson, the defense will have plenty to worry about while trying to contain the playmakers for the Palmetto Tigers. Throughout the 2012 season, controlling the line of scrimmage was something that led to much of the success that LSU has had so far.
While the LSU defense will have to contain the playmakers for Clemson, the offensive line of Clemson is sure to have its hands full trying to contain the front four of the Bayou Bengals.
The LSU attack starts on the outside, with athletic ends Sam Montgomery and Barkevious Mingo coming off of the edge. Montgomery and Mingo have combined for 11 sacks on the season. Tackle Bennie Logan has also had a fantastic season in the middle, and is relied upon heavily to help stop the rushing attack of opponents.
Given the production of the LSU defense in 2012, Clemson will have to protect quarterback Tahj Boyd in the game in order to be successful on offense. The Clemson offensive line has allowed 26 sacks this season, good enough for 77th nationally.
The Clemson line has also paved the way for a rushing attack that averages nearly 200 yards per game and ranks 34th in college football. Stopping the run will be a key for the LSU front four. The LSU line will also be called upon to apply pressure to Boyd, because of the dynamics of the Clemson offense.
Aside from the starters, LSU has several key reserves that will play a big role in the game. Lavar Edwards and Anthony Johnson are sure to make an impact at some point in the game. Jermauria Rasco will also have a chance at some point to showcase his speed off of the edge, when replacing Barkevious Mingo.
At the end of the day, the game between LSU and Clemson will be won up front, in the trenches. Whichever team shows that it can control the line of scrimmage will be able to open up the playbook a little bit more, whether on offense or defense.
PREVIEW: The Trenches (Clemson O vs. LSU D)
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