Coming into the two previous matchups with Alabama in the College Football Playoff, both Clemson and Alabama had highly-touted defenses that failed to live up to expectations on the field.
Clemson followed Alabama’s 45-40 victory in 2016 with a 35-31 triumph last season and those who have played in the games believe that much was left on the table.
Clelin Ferrell has that experience in his past, and wishes to atone for those missteps.
Dorian O’Daniel and Dexter Lawrence each had four tackles in last season’s contest, with Kendall Joseph holding the title of the leading returning tackler with six tackles.
O’Daniel and Lawrence both believe Alabama will come in with some new wrinkles, especially given the extra preparation time.
The Tigers’ Ryan Carter has seen a noticeable change in the Clemson secondary over the last couple of games. In addition to players like Mark Fields and Marcus Edmond getting back to health, the existing players have made opportunistic plays to spur the team on.
Carter, for example, had the interception return for touchdown against South Carolina which spun momentum the Tigers’ way in that contest.
While he didn’t register a tackle in the 2017 National Championship Game, Christian Wilkins did account for two pass breakups and three QB pressures in the win over the Crimson Tide.
The junior defensive tackle is uncertain about his future, but he wants to make sure he leaves no doubt with Alabama.
The Tigers and Tide are going through their final practices Friday, before breaking for the Christmas holiday.