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Alabama Football 2015: Previewing the Clemson Offense

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These guys are gonna give the Tide all they can handle

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Ed. Note: We're also going to share some older stories today and tomorrow regarding the scheme that Clemson will use to employ all of these weapons; the highlighted packages we selected from Oklahoma and Ole Miss are applicable to the Tigers as well -E

The Clemson offense is based off of a spread concept that heavily utilizes both the quarterback and running back in the run game. It is similar to the Auburn offense, but with less annoying misdirection, and a lot more efficiency in the passing game. Clemson is a balanced offensive juggernaut, as shown by their 11th rank in total offense in the NCAA while showing a near even split in passing and rushing yards.

The Tigers are led by some scrub you've probably never heard of, Deshaun Watson. The Heisman finalist has thrown for 3700 yards and is as explosive as he is efficient. Not only does he complete nearly 70% of his passes, but also averages 8.3 yards per attempt, showing that he isn't just a "captain checkdown." He has 31 touchdowns through the air to only 13 interceptions. Watson is deadly on third down, leading Clemson to the 13th most efficient team in the nation on third down (as opposed to Alabama, who is not even in the top 50). One interesting note, however, is that in the 79 passes Watson has attempted while Clemson was losing, his stats dropped tremendously. In these rare instances, his accuracy dips to around 60%, and his yards per attempt plummets to 6.6. Its admittedly a small sample size, but forcing Watson to play from behind could be a major key for the Tide.

On top of being one of the best passers in the nation, Watson has also ran for 1000 yards and 12 touchdowns. While an effective scrambler, most of Watson's damage is done on designed runs. He's athletic for sure, but even more impressive is his patience and vision when following blockers, a trait that rewards him with long runs and infrequent hits.

At running back, sophomore Wayne Gallman is one of the most overlooked players in the nation. he's rushed for nearly 1500 yards on 5.5 yards per carry, despite sharing so many carries with his quarterback. Most of Gallman's carries come on first down, until Clemson nears the goal line, where they begin to trust Gallman even more, and he has rewarded the Tigers with 12 touchdowns of his own.

Watson employs a plethora of targets in the passing game. By now, I'm sure everyone has heard that one of Clemson's top receivers, deep threat Deon Cain, has been suspended. Fortunately for the Tigers, they have plenty of talent and experience to continue the game without him. Sophomore Artavis Scott leads the team in both receptions and yards, with 89 and 869, respectively. He's typically used on shorter routes, and averages only 9.8 yards per reception.

After Scott, 6'2" senior Charone Peake is second on the team with 44 catches for 617 yards, and has also contributed 5 touchdowns. Peake typically works a little further down the field than Scott, and averages 14 yards per reception. Tight end Jordan Leggett is possibly the most dangerous weapon at Watson's disposal. Legget has 35 catches for 447 yards, and leads all pass catchers with 7 touchdowns. He's Watson's go-to guy in both third down situations, and in the redzone.

The receiving corps is rounded out by Hunter Renfrow, Ray-Ray McCloud, and Germone Hopper. All three have over 20 catches each, and have combined for nearly 1000 yards. Hopper and Renfrow both average over 15 yard per catch, while McCloud is a favorite for screen passes and other short routes to let him use his after-the-catch ability.

Clemson is known for consistently producing quality receivers every year for the past few years (Sammy Watkins, Deandre Hopkins, Martavis Bryant, etc.), and managed to find a Heisman caliber QB and an explosive running back to pair with them this year. On top of that, their offensive line has gelled to become one of the better lines in the country, and all of that leads to an exceptionally potent offense. Jonathan Allen and crew will have their work cut out for them to slow down the Tiger attack.