The Champs Vs. The Heisman

Saturday Spotlight

(3) Clemson Tigers (2-0) at (14) Louisville Cardinals (2-0)

Clemson: They opened the year up as the defending champions with an easy win over Kent State and last week at home against Auburn, they had to grind out that victory and that’s what the good football teams are able to do and that’s win games in a variety of ways whether it’s a blow out or those close games that you have to squeeze by. Their offense didn’t look all that great. KElly Bryant ran for a few touchdowns (two to be exact) but the unit as a whole totaled only 285 yards of total offense, but the defense came through and showed that they are still one of the best units in the country. You all know by now that I’m a former defensive player and there’s nothing more I love than to get after the quarterback whether it’s a wide nine technique with those defensive ends, a push within the interior of the defensive line or on stunts. Clemson recorded 11 sacks in their win over Auburn on Saturday night. There were definitely some question marks with them entering the year and rightfully so because they lost a lot and it’s tough to replace guys like Deshaun Watson, Wayne Gallman, Mike Williams, Artavis Scott and Jordan Leggett. That’s your core of the offense. However, they are still loaded with weapons offensively and it starts with Deon Cain, the receiver who was always the complementary asset to Williams has now flourished as the number one receiver and we can’t forget about Ray-Ray McCloud and title game hero Hunter Renfrow in the slot. They’ll have their first game on the road on Saturday against a hungry Louisville team out for revenge.

Louisville: They have impressed me so far with their play in their first two games. This is a good football team and not many people realize it because when you talk about ACC football, Florida State comes to mind, then, of course, Clemson and the U. This is a darkhorse team in the ACC and they have the talent throughout to get to the ACC title game, win it and make the playoffs. They could’ve made the playoffs last year. They had the quality win against Florida State and they were still on track despite losing at Death Valley. What hurts them was dropping games late in the season. Lamar Jackson had the world of college football talking last year and he’s off to another fast start. This year, he isn’t just doing it with his legs. He’s improved big time as a guy that doesn’t hesitate to throw the football from the pocket anymore. Last season, he relied on making plays with his legs first which would make defenses load the box up and force him to pass it. Now, he seems to run when he needs to escape so he definitely has more faith in his arm. Their defense, on the other hand, has been the struggling issue. They’re giving up 31.5 points a game. The Tar Heels of North Carolina were on their heels last Saturday and it was an early season trap game, but in the end, it just proved to be too much Lamar Jackson in the end and he made a lot of clutch plays when it mattered the most. They’ve played in two road games to open the season up. Now it’s a big home opener with the defending champions coming to town and they want nothing more than to show how good they are when the lights shine the brightest. Remember what they did against Florida State last year, but this is a different beast in Clemson.

Clemson Player To Watch: Austin Bryant– He was all over the field for Clemson in their impressive defensive performance over Auburn that saw the Tigers sack Auburn quarterback Jarett Stidham a total of eleven times. Now, the objective is to keep Jackson in that pocket all game (easier said than done) Dabo Swinney named him the player of the game for his game last Saturday and he’ll need to be on it once again tonight.

Louisville Player To Watch: Jaylen Smith– With Louisville losing a few receivers from last year’s team, he’s stepped up big time and become Lamar’s top target so far in the early season. He has 17 grabs for 300 yards and a touchdown in two games so far and will be counted on to make a few big catches somehow against a vaunted Clemson defense who’s secondary has yet to be tested.

Final Analysis: This game was slated to kickoff at 3:30 in the afternoon today, but it got switched to a primetime kickoff. Louisville’s thorn in the side has been these Clemson Tigers and in their last three meetings, Louisville’s losses are by a combined 15 points. Those are missed opportunities to the Cardinals. Clemson has yet to allow a touchdown this season. This Louisville offense will by far be the best offense they’ve seen early on in the young season. The front seven is vaunted, the secondary has yet to be tested. That’s the first order of business for the Cardinals is to control the tempo of the game and make their secondary work. Clemson’s offense will face a very vulnerable Cardinals defense. This could be the breakout game for Kelly Bryant.

Prediction: Clemson 38 Louisville 24