If you were able to catch the podcast that I was on the other night, you also got to hear a lot of ACC knowledge from Mr. Jeff Fann. Jeff runs the site AllSportsDiscussion.com, which focuses on the ACC but just as the name says, will also talk about anything in sports.
Besides knowing about all of the teams in the ACC, there was another reason I wanted to do a quick Q&A with Jeff about the game on Saturday. That reason? He is a Clemson graduate. So if there is any team he can talk about more and have a real passion for them, it has to be the Tigers. So here we go!
1) What is the biggest advantage that each team has over the other in this game?
Jeff: Louisville’s D-line over Clemson’s O-line. Clemson’s O-line has struggled badly at times this year. In the 2nd half against Georgia they couldn’t pass protect, and they’ve had problems running against even mediocre defenses like UNC’s.
Clemson’s D-line over Louisville O-line. Clemson’s D-line will be the most athletic the Cardinals have faced. At times they’ve been dominant, but they have been a little inconsistent. I know the Cardinals saw a good defense at Virginia, but the Tigers are more athletic quicker of the edges.
2) On the podcast, you said that this is the best defense that Clemson has faced so far, including Florida State. Can you expand on that a little bit?
Jeff: Yes, player for player FSU has more talent, but they have been injured, and they still have a good bit of inexperience back there. They have had their ups and downs. Louisville has been a more cohesive unit early in the year, and there’s a good bit of talent for the Cardinals too. Lorenzo Mauldin is one of my favorites defensive players in the ACC.
3) Who are 2-3 players on each side of the ball that Louisville fans should know about heading into the game?
Jeff: Deshaun Watson is a future heisman candidate at QB. He’s the best freshman quarterback I’ve ever seen at Clemson. He is a natural talent. Mike WIlliams at WR is turning into that go to receiver the Tigers were looking for in the early part of the season. At 6 foot 4 he’s a tough matchup for DBs.
All-America DE Vic Beasley comes as quickly off the edge as anyone in the country. Before the season ends he will be Clemson’s all time sack leader. Stephone Anthony is an All-ACC LB that really came into his own the last 2 years. He was regarded as one of the nation’s best prep LBs. He’s a physical LB.
4) Is there a particular matchup that you are looking forward to seeing in this game? Like a particular WR and CB or DL and OL or anything like that?
Jeff: I mentioned it earlier, but this is what gives Louisville a chance their D-line vs Clemson’s O-line. Even against FSU, Watson didn’t face much pressure. As excited as Clemson fans are about Watson, how will he handle things if he’s under heavy pressure? He’s still a freshman. If Clemson can’t establish a running game or protect Watson, that’s a lot to put on a young player even a talented one.
5) Finally, just rattle off your thoughts on the game in general and give a prediction if you will.
Jeff: It looks like QB Will Gardner and WR Devante Parker will be available in some capacity for Louisville. Parker is an NFL caliber talent, and the Tigers do have some young players in the secondary. Without them I didn’t think the Cardinals had enough offensive firepower to keep up with Clemson. Now even in a limited capacity, the Cardinals have more explosiveness. The Tigers certainly won’t be able to score with the ease they did against UNC and NC State, but I can’t see the Cardinals completely stopping Clemson’s attack. Louisville is a good football team, but Clemson is starting to peak and is at home.
I’m looking at a 31-21 type victory for Clemson in this one.