No Trevor Lawrence. No Tyler Davis, James Skalski, or Mike Jones Jr. Oh, and no Xavier Thomas for the first half.
The Clemson Football program prides itself on its next man up mentality and when the Tigers visit South Bend without those guys, that mantra will be put to the test like never before.
Much of the media attention has focused of the absence of Lawrence, but freshman D.J. Uiagalelei showed tremendous poise for a freshman making his first career start last weekend. The former five star completed over 70% of his passes for well over 300 yards and never panicked as the Tigers fell behind 28-10 late in the second quarter. A game they eventually won 34-28.
Where the focus should be is on the defensive side of the ball for the Tigers. Tyler Davis is the anchor of that defensive front. He commands double teams on the interior which frees other players up to make plays, especially in the running game. In other words, he is a big part of the Clemson run defense.
With Davis out, the question becomes how does Brent Venables scheme this elite Notre Dame rushing attack. The Tigers are generally aggressive on defense and even without Davis, Skalski, and Jones, do not expect that to change. Expect them to sell out to stop the run, put pressure on Ian Book, and make him and those receivers win the game through the air.
That means the Clemson secondary will have to step up and contain the Irish wideouts. The Notre Dame passing game hasn’t been what you would call very explosive this season. Their leading receiver is freshman tight end Michael Mayer. While the Tigers secondary has been prone to giving up the big play from time to time, overall they have been fairly solid and this is a matchup they should win.
Make no mistake, Clemson comes into this one extremely shorthanded. That isn’t an excuse, it just is what it is. In fact, despite all the losses, the Tigers are still a slight road favorite.
Having said all that, if the Tigers are going to come out of South Bend with a win, it will be because of the next man up mentality that exists inside the program. As Dabo Swinney has said multiple times, the Tigers are built for this. Now they get to go out and prove it.
Former Clemson Tiger Terrence Oglesby has a new ACC Basketball Preview out now available for purchase. Click here to order your copy today. Use the coupon code “clemsonjunkies” for 10% of of your purchase! Also be sure to check out his weekly Let It Fly show on Facebook or Twitter!