Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Clemson speed “concerns” Kirby Smart

Clemson’s offense goes fast. By adjusted pace, it ranks ninth in the nation. It rarely substitutes, frequently quick-snaps and almost never huddles. It aims to go faster than you can imagine, and it will tire you out.

But it’s too late to prepare for all that now. 

“I don’t think you prepare for that,” Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart said. “I think that’s an off-season thing, I think it’s a throughout the season thing, conditioning. I think at this point in the year, you are what you are, conditioning-wise. Now do we condition, yes. But you can over-condition and have your team tired. We tried to simulate [Clemson’s offense] but there is nothing that can simulate how fast Clemson goes, other than showing our kids on tape. Show them a TV copy, show them that there’s 35 seconds on the shotclock, they’re snapping it at 30. They’re turning the thing over really quick. 

“We try to expose them to that but there’s not a lot you can do, and we’re worried about that. It concerns you.”

Fast offenses used to be something of an Achilles’ heel for Alabama. That was in the era of the 340-pound tackles like Terrence Cody. Now, with leaner players, fewer personnel packages and better organized substitution packages, they’ve become less of a problem.

“There’s no great answer for it,” Smart said. “You try to substitute to slow them down when they substitute, but everybody in the country tries to do that. They don’t want to substitute because they want to go as fast as they can go. More credit to them. That’s a great offensive scheme against us, a bigger, more physical team. They want to go fast, wear you down, and hit you in the heart in the fourth quarter. That’s our challenge.”

Smart said the growing prevalence of the hurry-up offense in the SEC has helped his team prepare, but they’ve never seen a quarterback like Heisman finalist Deshaun Watson, and definitely not a backfield pairing like the one he creates with running back Wayne Gallman, who scored 66 touchdowns this season. 

“No, we haven’t seen that,” Smart said And a very experienced offensive line that does a great job getting a hat on a hat. I don’t think their offensive line gets enough credit for what they’ve been able to do this year. They’ve allowed Deshaun Watson to run the ball really well, Wayne Gallman to run the ball really well, and still allow them to throw the ball for explosive plays. By far the most challenging offense we’ve faced.”

Mobile quarterbacks like Watson have spelled trouble for Alabama in recent years, but a linebacker corps of Reggie Ragland and Reuben Foster and a two-deep defensive line have helped fix that problem this season. The two possess the athleticism to “spy” mobile quarterbacks, the instincts to drop into coverage and the physicality to take on blockers. 

“Well, I really don’t think they get into the backfield that much,” Smart said. “I think they make some really good plays but we let our front play blockers and they make a lot of tackles but they don’t get into the backfield a whole lot. I think both of them are good experienced players who have played in our system for a while and play smart and play hard.”

But for all of those improvements, there’s no way to slow Clemson down. The defense just has to keep up. 

Although Smart did propose one option.

“Call Dabo and maybe ask him to slow down,” Smart said. “That’s it.”

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