Artavis Scott

CFT Previews & Predictions: Alabama-Clemson Tale of the Tape

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WHO
No. 1 Alabama (14-0) vs. No. 2 Clemson (13-1)

WHAT
The College Football Playoff championship game, presented by AT&T

WHEN
8:00 p.m. ET

WHERE
Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Florida

HEAD COACHES
Alabama’s Nick Saban (114-18 in 10 seasons with the Crimson Tide, 205-60-1 overall; five national championships)
Clemson’s Dabo Swinney (88-28 in nine seasons with the Tigers)

STATISTICAL LEADERS
Alabama
Passing: Jalen Hurts, 227-351 (64.7%), 2,249 yards, 22 touchdowns, nine interceptions
Rushing: Damien Harris, 1,013 yards; Hurts, 12 touchdowns
Receiving: Calvin Ridley, 67 receptions; ArDarius Stewart, 852 yards, eight touchdowns
Punt returns: Trevon Diggs, 10 yards per on 13 returns; Eddie Jackson (injured, won’t play), 23 yards per on 11 returns, two touchdowns
Kick returns: Diggs. 23.7 yards per on seven returns
Punting: J.K. Scott, 47.4 yards per, 20 of 54 inside 20
Kicking: Adam Griffith, 20-27 field goals, long of 48; 62-63 extra points
Tackles: Reuben Foster, 103
Tackles for loss: Ryan Anderson, 17
Sacks: Jonathan Allen, 9.5
QB Hits: Allen, 15
Interceptions: Minkah Fitzpatrick, six
Passes breakups: Anthony Averett, 14

Clemson
Passing: Deshaun Watson, 352-523 (67.3%), 4,173 yards, 38 touchdowns, 17 interceptions
Rushing: Wayne Gallman, 1,087 yards, 16 touchdowns
Receiving: Mike Williams, 90 receptions, 1,267 yards, 10 touchdowns
Punt returns: Ray-Ray McCloud, 8.4 per on 21 returns
Kick returns: Artavis Scott, 22.9 per on 20 returns
Punting: Andy Teasdall, 38 yards per, 21 of 53 inside 20
Kicking: Greg Huegel, 14-19 field goals, long of 48; 66-68 extra points
Tackles: Ben Boulware, 121
Tackles for loss: Carlos Watkins, 12.5
Sacks: Watkins, 10.5
Interceptions: Jadar Johnson, five
Passes breakups: Cordrea Tankersley, 10

STATISTICAL MATCHUPS
Alabama’s 11th-ranked rush offense (246.7 ypg) vs. Clemson’s 19th-ranked run defense (123.1 ypg)
CU’s 62nd-ranked rush offense (175.4 ypg) vs. UA’s top-ranked run defense (62 ypg)
UA’s 81st-ranked pass offense (214.2 yp) vs. CU’s 17th-ranked pass defense (183.8 ypg)
CU’s 7th-ranked pass offense (327.8 ypg) vs. UA’s 14th-ranked pass defense (182 ypg)
UA’s 15th-ranked scoring offense (39.4 ppg) vs. CU’s 7th-ranked scoring defense (17.1 ppg)
CU’s 13th-ranked scoring offense (39.5 ppg) vs. UA’s top-ranked scoring defense (11.4 ppg)

COMMON OPPONENTS
Auburn
Clemson won 19-13 in Auburn Sept. 3, Alabama won 30-12 in Tuscaloosa Nov. 26.

LOSSES
Alabama: N/A
Clemson: 43-42 to No. 23 Pittsburgh (8-5) in Clemson Nov. 12

PORTFOLIO
Wins vs. bowl teams: Alabama 12, Clemson 10
Wins vs. current CFP Top 25 teams: UA 6, CU 5
Wins in true road games: UA 4, CU 5
Wins by 10-plus points: UA 13, CU 7

THE BOVADA.LV LINE
Clemson, +6 (opened +6½)
Over/under, 51

THE PREDICTIONS
Zach Barnett
Here’s one thing I know: Tide-Tigers II won’t be as high scoring as the last time around. Alabama — both offense and defense — won’t allow it. And here’s what I think: I think Alabama is just too far ahead of the rest of the country that even a marked deficit at quarterback can’t overcome the Tide’s advantages elsewhere. The defense is too good, the rest of the offense is too good, and Bo Scarborough is too, well, Bo Scarborough.
Alabama 21, Clemson 17

Bryan Fisher
I think this year’s rematch should be just as close of a game as last season’s version, with Alabama squeaking out another close victory over Clemson in slightly lower scoring fashion. Turnovers will play a huge role in this one and I wouldn’t be shocked if the Crimson Tide’s defense finds the end zone at least once to make up for what should be a grind-it-out type of night for their offense. The Tigers defense plays heroically throughout, but ultimately it’s Nick Saban holding up the trophy in the end.
Alabama 31, Clemson 27

Kevin McGuire
The biggest question mark for this game is just what to expect from Alabama’s offense given the bizarre staff shakeup that forced Lane Kiffin on his way to his new job and inserted Steve Sarkisian to call plays, which has never particularly been his strong suit. But who am I to question Nick Saban? It all comes back to winning the rematch though, where Clemson is coming off an impressive shelling of Ohio State and looks like a true threat to Alabama, especially if the Tide is a mixed bag of ineptitude on offense with a freshman quarterback. But Deshaun Watson will have to play the same kind of game he did a year ago, and I’m not so sure that will be possible. Fool Alabama once, it happens. Do it twice in a row? I’m not as confident that is possible.
Alabama 26, Clemson 24

John Taylor
I’m truly torn on this one.  On the one hand you have a Brent Venables-coached Clemson defense that shut out Ohio State and its veteran quarterback, J.T. Barrett, going up against a true freshman quarterback in Alabama’s Jalen Hurts — and with a new playcaller no less. On the other, you have an Alabama defense that, in addition to being ranked No. 1 in myriad statistical categories, is in the Top 15 nationally in interceptions with 16 — six of which were returned for touchdowns — matched up with a quarterback in Deshaun Watson whose 17 picks this season are tied for second at the FBS level.  In the end I’m going to go against the grain and with Venables and Watson denying Nick Saban his Bear Bryant-tying title.  Hell, The Nicktator says (winkwink nudgenudgeClemson’s the best team; who am I to argue with the greatest college coach of this generation?
Clemson 27, Alabama 23

Backup Clemson receiver Trevion Thompson to miss playoff with wrist injury

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Clemson’s first-team wide receivers should be in good shape when the ACC champions take on Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl semifinal of the College Football Playoff, but the depth at the position took a little ding on Tuesday. Sophomore Trevion Thompson will be unavailable for the College Football Playoff due to a fractured wrist.

Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney announced Thompson injured his wrist during the ACC Championship Game against Virginia Tech two weeks ago. It may also be a little while before he is able to return to full health, with Swinney suggesting it could be possible Thompson will not be available at the start of spring football practices.

Thompson had been listed second on the depth chart behind Artavis Scott. Thompson accounted for 108 yards and one touchdown this season.

Dabo confirms Deshaun Watson one of four Clemson Tigers going pro

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One of the worst-kept secrets in college football has been made officially official.

In March, Dabo Swinney urged fans to show up for Clemson’s spring game, saying “[i]t’s going to be the last time to see Deshaun Watson, most likely,” in such a setting.  Eight months later, Swinney said the quarterback will be one of four juniors who will be honored at the team’s Senior Day game against Pittsburgh this coming Saturday.

Watson, a Heisman Trophy candidate one year after becoming a finalist for the award, is set to graduate in December, as are the other three who will be foregoing their remaining eligibility and making themselves available for the 2017 NFL draft — running back Wayne Gallman and wide receivers Artavis Scott and Mike Williams.

According to the Tigers head coach, all four of the players indicated to him over the summer that they intended to make the 2016 season their last at the collegiate level.

Watson and Gallman have accounted for nearly 66 percent of the Tigers’ rushing yards thus far this season.  Williams and Scott are one-two, respectively, in receptions.

No. 2 Clemson blowing out Syracuse, but Deshaun Watson leaves with shoulder injury

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No. 2 Clemson has completed dominated Syracuse through one half, leading 30-0 at Death Valley East.

The Tigers have found points on all but two of their seven possessions, including four consecutive touchdown drives before a missed field goal closed the half. The first came on just a 15-yard drive after Ryan Carter intercepted Syracuse quarterback Eric Dungey in Orange territory. The other three traveled 95, 89 and 86 yards, capped by two Deshaun Watson throws.

The only negative for Clemson so far (other than a missed extra point) has been an injury to Watson’s throwing shoulder. On the Tigers’ final drive of the half, Watson landed on his right shoulder while being brought down by two Orange defenders after a 13-yard run. He fired incomplete to Adam Choice on the next play, and then removed himself from the game while pointing to his right shoulder. Trainers later took him to the locker room.

While the severity of the injury is not yet known, the 30-point spread makes it unlikely Clemson’s franchise quarterback will see the field again today.

If this is it for him, Watson finishes the day hitting 13-of-16 passes for 169 yards and two touchdowns while rushing seven times for 84 yards and another score. Nick Schussler finished off the Tigers’ final drive, hitting 4-of-7 passes for 29 yards and a 5-yard scoring strike to Artavis Scott.

Dungey hit 6-of-9 passes for 48 yards and an interception before leaving due to an injury of his own. Austin Wilson entered and completed 8-of-14 passes for 48 yards and another interception.

Late Deshaun Watson drive, defensive stand help No. 5 Clemson hold off No. 3 Louisville’s late comeback

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Deshaun Watson spent most of the second half in an unfamiliar place: on the sidelines.

Lamar Jackson was also in a strange position: on the field in the fourth quarter.

No matter how strange things were for the two Heisman Trophy caliber quarterbacks however, few could have predicted the wild swings of a classic heavyweight battle that No. 5 Clemson survived with a 42-36 victory.

Jackson did his best in the hostile environment to keep Louisville’s perfect season alive by throwing for 295 yards and a touchdown while rushing for 162 more and two scores.

While Jackson was a big part in a rally that turned a 10 point deficit into a 12 point lead, Todd Grantham’s defense played a role too. Clemson came out of the locker room and turned the ball over three times — once in the red zone — and went three-and-out on another possession in the second half to stunt most of their momentum. Louisville responded with a 19-0 run on four consecutive scoring drives to storm back and take the lead.

Desperately needing something, Artavis Scott busted out a 77 yard return for the Tigers to get the crowd back into it at Memorial Stadium. Clemson scored just two plays later to cut it to a two point game.

That’s when Watson finally looked like the quarterback everybody was expecting coming into 2016. He helped mount an eight play, 85 yard drive with just over three minutes left before finding Jordan Leggett over the middle for the game-winning score.

Jackson responded by marching the Cards right down the field in the final minutes but receiver James Quick couldn’t quite make it to the first down marker or the end zone on fourth down to complete the second half comeback.

The win by the Tigers all but gives them the ACC Atlantic title and punches their ticket to the league title game. Clemson owns the head-to-head win over Louisville and is already two games up on Florida State ahead of their meeting in Tallahassee at the end of the month. Despite a lackluster first month of the season, the victory also helped show the nation that a return trip to the final four at the end of the year is just as realistic as it was in August.

The close loss doesn’t knock Louisville completely out of the ACC race nor does it eliminate them from a potential College Football Playoff bid but certainly takes a little wind out of their sails the rest of the season. They’ll need help to win the division but a dream season is certainly not over after Saturday’s thriller in which they came up just a little short.