4. How many downfield shots will Clemson’s offense take?
This is important and here’s why: Other than Ole Miss on September 17, no team has been able to drive the ball consistently on the Alabama defense.
So far this season, Alabama has faced 10 running backs who would go on to rush for at least 1,000 yards. Those 10 running backs averaged 33 yards against Alabama’s defense.
So coaches around the conference will tell you that the only way to move the ball against Alabama is to get yardage in chunks. Ole Miss had big, athletic receivers such as Quincy Adeboyejo. Clemson has such a receiver in Mike Williams, who did not play in this game a year ago.
So I’m saying that Clemson will want to take at least 15 shots down the field against Alabama. The question is whether not Watson will have time to get the ball out.
5. Will Alabama score a defensive touchdown?
In the semifinals against Washington, the game turned when Alabama’s Ryan Anderson returned an interception 26 yards for a touchdown. That gave the Crimson Tide a 17-7 lead at halftime and the game basically was over.
On the season, Alabama leads the nation with 11 defensive touchdowns (six interception returns, five fumble returns). The Crimson Tide has 15 non-offensive touchdowns total.
This is significant because as good as Watson has been for Clemson this season, he has thrown 17 interceptions. Only Purdue’s David Blough (21) has thrown more picks among FBS quarterbacks.
Alabama’s entire team seems to feed off defensive touchdowns. It’s critical for Clemson to avoid this mistake.
(You can follow Tony Barnhart on Twitter @MrCFB)
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