With the National Championship on the horizon, we will take a look at some top prospects and matchups that will play a factor in the outcome:
- Edge K’lavon Chiasson
- DT Rashard Lawrence
- QB Joe Burrow
- WR Justin Jefferson
- LT Saadiq Charles
- C Lloyd Cushenberry
- RB Clyde Edwards Helaire
- CB Kristian Fulton
- S Grant Delpit
- TE Thaddeus Moss
- WR Tee Higgins
- RB Travis Etienne
- OT Tremayne Anchrum
- OG Gage Cervenka
- DT Nyles Pinckney
- S Tanner Muse
- LB Isaiah Simmons
- CB AJ Terrell
- CB K’Von Wallace
Joe Burrow vs Trevor Lawrence
As the top quarterbacks in their respective draft classes, the performances of Burrow and Lawrence on the highest stage will be under the microscope. It is imperative they take care of the football and use their athleticism to make plays outside the pocket.
Lawrence has recently showcased his athletic ability, as he gives the defense another potent threat in the zone read game. As for Burrow, his improvisation in the pocket has resulted in the extension of plays.
Justin Jefferson/Jamarr Chase vs K’Von Wallace/AJ Terrell
Throughout the year, a minimal amount of LSU’s opponents could match up to their star-studded receiving core. However, Wallace and Terrell are athletic and lengthy corners who could pose problems. If Clemson wants to stay in the game, they need to negate explosive plays downfield.
Travis Etienne vs LSU’s Front Seven
Etienne is an explosive player who can eliminate pursuit angles quickly. However, LSU’s front seven has seen large contributions from Tyler Shelvin, Rashard Lawrence, K’Lavon Chiasson, and more. To open up the downfield passing game for Clemson, Etienne needs to open up the playbook.
Tee Higgins/Justyn Ross vs Derek Stingley/Kristian Fulton
Due to the fact that multiple players in this game will be highly-scouted, this matchup is full of intrigue. Stingley is a fluid corner who has already caught the eye of scouts with two years left until earliest eligibility. Fulton, an upcoming Senior Bowl member, is an exceptional cover corner who has elastic hips and impressive transitions.
Their matchup against Higgins and Ross will be contested and important to the outcome of this game. It is important that Clemson does not turn one dimensional, and it is up to Stingley and Fulton to play a role in that.
Keys to the Game: Clemson
Establish Etienne and the zone read early: Schematically, the zone read caused a variety of issues for the Ohio State defense, which allowed advantageous downfield matchups to exploit themselves quickly. If they can establish Etienne and Lawrence on the ground early, they will be able to put up points to hang with LSU’s firepower.
Get pressure on Joe Burrow: With someone as versatile as Isaiah Simmons, it is imperative that he is used to get after Burrow. Xavier Thomas needs to win his one-on-one matchups on the outside. If the blitzes work early, it will inspire confidence in Brent Venables to put his corners up on the line of scrimmage.
Keys to the Game: LSU
Involve Edwards-Helaire early: Clyde Edwards-Helaire is an elusive playmaker who has high-level receiving capabilities out of the backfield. If he gains momentum, it will create a difficult matchup. If Clemson decides to stack the box, Burrow can exploit them down the field. If they try to play the sticks, Edwards-Helaire can have a big game on the ground.
Discipline in gap exchanges, negate home run plays: A gap exchange to combat Clemson’s zone read is practical for LSU. However, it’s important that they play assignment football in these gap exchanges. Against Ohio State, Trevor Lawrence has a multitude of huge runs that altered momentum drastically. LSU needs to play disciplined football, and Etienne can not let up home run plays.
Photo Credit- Chicago-Sun Times