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Advanced Stat Preview: Alabama Defense

There are two ways that this game can play out. Either Alabama dominates us like everyone else on their schedule or we see the QB duel of a lifetime between Tua Tagovailoa and Trevor Lawrence. We don’t know how good either team really is.

Alabama steamrolled everyone on their schedule except Georgia. But, and this is so painfully obvious Georgia fans look like dunces (as usual, barking like dogs… I hate Georgia football), Tua played with one leg! Fromm was on fire. Georgia played their best game and still lost to a handicapped Alabama. Clemson faced a come from behind effort from A&M and Syracuse. Lawrence went out against Syracuse and this team is far from where it was at the beginning of the season.

Trevor Lawrence’s progression has been unreal. He’s gone from staring down receivers, missing deep balls, and getting thrown off from blitzes to dominating the game. He’s progressing through his reads and handling the blitz. We saw even more progress in the Notre Dame game. What’s most important, at least in my opinion, is that Lawrence knows how to handle pressure. He felt it in the pocket and evaded. That’s huge because the number one team in sack rate is up next on the schedule. Remember what Deshaun Watson had to face with pressure? Hopefully it won’t be that bad, but they will bring it.

Clemson has a slimmer margin of error, but we’re only a 6-point underdog. When we won in 2016, it was 7 points. Believe in Trevor Lawrence. Clemson can win. We’ll need our secondary to play lights out like they did against Notre Dame. We’ll need our front four to get to Tua without blitzing. We’ll need our OL to hang in there with pass protection. We’re not going to run successfully in a consistent manner against Alabama, but we’ll pull off an explosive rush or two.  We can win this game.

Alabama Defense

Alabama’s defense will give up big passing and rushing plays. They rank 49th in the percentage of 20+ yard runs allowed and 59th in 20+ yards passing. That’s going to be the area of the game Clemson needs to succeed in. Clemson ranks number 1 in percentage of 20+ yards rushed but only 52nd in passing. Having watched Trevor Lawrence for more than 5 minutes, I know he has no problem throwing the ball downfield. That’s pretty much the only weakness. They rank 5th in rushing efficiency, 6th in passing efficiency, and number one in standard downs rate. It’s hard to move the ball consistently.

The three players contributing most to their number one sack rate are DT Quinnen Williams (18 TFL, 8 sacks), DE Isaiah Buggs (12.5 TFL, 9.5 sacks), and LB Christian Miller (10.5 TFL, 7.5 sacks). Williams entered the medical tent during the Oklahoma game, but it doesn’t sound serious. Christian Miller, on the other hand, pulled his hamstring. He had an MRI that showed he didn’t tear it. Maybe Alabama can pull another miracle of science like they did with Tua, but he’s not going to be 100%. Again, Lawrence will need to handle pressure because he’s going to have it.

I’ll let The Kraken break down their secondary. They are good with the underneath passes, but can get beat on intermediary and deep routes. They are thin, playing former 5-star true-freshman Patrick Surtain and 4-star LSU transfer Savion Smith at CB. Nickel Shyheim Carter plays a lot.; expect a lot of him.

Statistics

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Data from footballoutsiders.com

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