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Notre Dame Football

Clemson Talks A Little Notre Dame

December 27, 2018

With a true freshman starting at quarterback, which led to the transfer of a veteran signal-caller, and a frontline defensive player facing a suspension along with the fact that they’re the favorite having been in the College Football Playoff each of the last four years, the Clemson Tigers have been asked about themselves more than their Cotton Bowl opponent leading up to Saturday’s Cotton Bowl.

Many of the questions from Wednesday’s Media Day were centered upon the emergence of Trevor Lawrence at quarterback, the absence of former starter Kelly Bryant and the likely absence of top defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence following a positive drug test.

But there have been at least a few questions pertaining to Notre Dame, the 12.5-point underdog.

Clemson co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott was asked for his thoughts on his counterpart for Saturday, Irish defensive coordinator Clark Lea.

“I kept up with him,” Scott said. “I believe he was at Wake Forest before with Coach (Mike) Elko. So always impressed with his position group and with what he did defensively.”

Scott added that tracking big plays, runs more than 12 yards and passes over 16, is one of his responsibilities for Clemson.

“One thing I noticed about their defense at Wake and defense this year at Notre Dame, not a lot of big plays,” he said. “Guys are where they're supposed to be, very sound. Not a lot of guys running free and every play is contested, the running game and in the passing game. So, I have a lot of respect that he's done an excellent job this year.”

In addition to multiple questions about Lawrence, All-American defensive tackle Christian Wilkins was asked if he viewed the Irish offensive line the way many people look at the Tigers’ elite defensive line.

“Definitely,” Wilkins responded.

The Springfield, Mass., native was a freshman when the teams last met in the classic 24-22 Clemson win back in 2015.

“Still to this day I think one of the best o-line I've faced was that 2015 offensive line,” Wilkins added. “I think they had four or five starters go in the first round of the draft, if I'm not mistaken and just really talented O-line.

“When I think of Notre Dame, I always think of a very good offensive line. That's no different now. They've got a really good offensive line. They're second for offensive line and it shows when you watch the tape, because they're just really talented. They work well collectively as a unit and they don't beat themselves. They don't make a lot of mistakes. They're really big and they can move pretty well and they do a good job of covering you up. They're just really talented.”

Wilkins also mentioned how impressed he was by the fact that the Irish unit is still one of the best after losing a pair of Top Ten draft picks in Quenton Nelson and Mike McGlinchey from last year’s squad.

“It's a testament to the guys on the team and their coaching staff just to be as productive as dominant as they've been,” he said.

Linebacker Tre Lamar was asked what he’s seen from the Irish offense since the return of running back Dexter Williams, who has rushed for 941 yards and 12 touchdowns on 142 carries after missing the first four games of the season.

“I just think they're a more dynamic team in general,” said Lamar. “He really brings that extra threat, the X-factor in the team. In fact, he really runs that ball with a lot of force, a lot of downhill power and when he gets away from people, he can really get away. He's got a lot of speed to him. I think he just adds that much more fear, and the defense knows he can really get out there and run.”

Lamar also agreed that the Irish tight ends could also be a factor.

“I think you have to account for them coming at those sets, not just passing as well,” he said. “They're good blockers, so you just got to be ready for them.”

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