January 11, 2016
Game Prediction - Clemson vs. Alabama in the National Championship
This is it. It’s the big one. You know, the one for all of the marbles. It’s the biggest game of the year. The one that if you’re a college football player, coach or fan you always wish your team would be playing in.
It’s Clemson and Alabama.
It’s the College Football Playoff National Championship. But the 2015 squad will strap it on one more time, but this time it’s for the right to be called the champions of college football.
WHAT: NO. 1 CLEMSON VS NO. 2 ALABAMA
WHERE: UNIVERSITY OF PHOENIX STADIUM – GLENDALE, AZ
WHEN: MONDAY, JANUARY, 11, 2016
TIME: 8:30 P.M. EST/ 6:30 P.M. MST
TV: ESPN FAMILY OF NETWORKS
WHEN ALABAMA HAS THE BALL
Alabama’s offense begins and ends with Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry, who has carried the ball 359 times for 2,061 yards – a 5.7 yards per carry clip – and 25 touchdowns. Henry averages 147.2 yards per game on the ground. Stopping Henry will be the key for Clemson’s defenders Shaq Lawson, Kevin Dodd, Carlos Watkins, Ben Boulware and B.J. Goodson. How many resources will Brent Venables have to put into stopping Henry? Can the front seven get the job done?
At quarterback, Alabama has Florida State transfer Jake Coker. The senior signal caller has played in all 14 games and has completed 247-of-368 passes for 2,775 yards and 19 touchdowns against eight interceptions. His leading target is freshman speedster Calvin Ridley who has 83 receptions for 1,031 yards and seven scores. Michigan State couldn’t contain Ridley, and the job this week will be Clemson’s Mackensie Alexander. ArDarius Stewart has four touchdowns and 61 receptions for 6,37 yards.
WHEN CLEMSON HAS THE BALL
Alabama’s defense is heralded as one of the greatest units ever assembled in college football, especially the front seven led by A’Shawn Robinson and Reggie Ragland, but the good news for Clemson is that the Tide don’t face an offense that as multiple as the Tigers or one that runs with as much tempo. They also haven’t seen a quarterback quite like No. 4, Deshaun Watson.
Even when it’s not working, Clemson will need to stick with the running game, especially runs outside of the tackles. The Tigers haven’t run as many jet sweeps or as much orbit motion this season with Jeff Scott and Tony Elliott at the helm, but you may see more of that Monday night in order to get Bama’s big, physical defense running sideline to sideline instead of right up the gut. If Clemson can have any success running the ball whether it with Wayne Gallman or Deshaun Watson, it will force Bama to devote another player to stopping the run and should allow a Hunter Renfrow, Jordan Leggett, Germone Hopper, Artavis Scott or Charone Peake to get free over the top.
This is the one area that Alabama has the clear advantage, especially with dangerous return man Cyrus Jones, who has returned 41 punts for a total of 518 yards for an average of 12.6 yards per return with a 57-yard return against Michigan State, a 69-yard touchdown at Mississippi State and 43- and 72-yard returns against Charleston Southern. The four returns for a touchdown is a single season Alabama record. Kenyan Drake isn’t quite as dangerous on kickoff returns, but is still averaging over 22 yards per return. Field goal kicker Adam Griffith is 22-of-30 this season with a long of 55 yards, and punter JK Scott is averaging over 44 yards per punt.
While Clemson doesn’t return the ball well, kickoffs, punts field goals and extra points were solid last week against Oklahoma. With Ammon Lakip gone, walk-on Greg Huegel handles everything but punts. He was solid against Oklahoma, only missing one field goal – a 47-yarder – and booting most of kickoffs into the endzone. Punter Andy Teasdall will need to have a solid night and give the coverage unit plenty of time to get down the field to try and corral Jones.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN
There’s a lot riding on this game for both teams, but after spending the last three days around the players and coaches, it seems as if all of the pressure is on Alabama. Clemson’s players were loose and are treating this game just like any other, and that will work in their favor come game time. Clemson matches up well with Alabama. The Tide will want to run the ball with Derrick Henry, but Clemson’s defense has been great at stopping the run all season. The Tigers will force Jake Coker to throw the ball and into some bad situations. Offensively, Clemson will do just enough in the run game to keep Alabama’s defense honest, and Deshaun Watson will find his touch on the deep throws to Germone Hopper and Artavis Scott.
This game will be won in the trenches and in the fourth quarter. Which team can hold up for 60 minutes?
FINAL SCORE: CLEMSON 28 – ALABAMA 20
Post written by Clemson Girl Sports Bloggess Nikki Hood