Orange Bowl: 5 Clemson Players To Watch

    Who are the five key Clemson players to watch for in the 2015 Orange Bowl?

    December 31, 2015


    Who are the five key Clemson players to watch for in the 2015 Orange Bowl?


    Orange Bowl: 5 Clemson Players To Watch

    E-mail Rich Cirminiello |
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    1. QB Deshaun Watson

    The college football world got a glimpse of Watson during his injury-shortened true freshman season in 2014. This past year, his ability to lead a program was on full display, sans any interruptions or missed time. Watson, who finished third in the Heisman vote, has accounted for 41 touchdowns, while ranking second on the Tigers with 887 rushing yards. But it’s his poise, leadership and maturity that are the central reasons Clemson has yet to lose a game this season.

    2. DE Shaq Lawson

    In the aftermath of wholesale graduations, the Tigers needed Lawson to step up and play to his enormous potential this season. And, boy, has he ever delivered. As a junior, he’s blossomed into one of the country’s top pass rushers, reaching team-highs with 22.5 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks. Lawson has the total package of size, strength and quickness to create nightmares for OU’s rookie tackle tandem of Orlando Brown and Dru Samia.

    3. CB Mackensie Alexander

    Someone on Clemson will have to contain Sooner WR Sterling Shepard, one of the nation’s premier big-game performers at his position. That someone will be Alexander, an all-league lockdown corner who could be off to the NFL Draft following his sophomore season. Alexander vs. Shepard will be one of Thursday’s most compelling games-within-the-game, dictating to what extend QB Baker Mayfield has to locate complementary receivers Dede Westbrook and Durron Neal.

    4. LB Ben Boulware

    Boulware is a heart-and-soul kind of defender, the guy who’ll be most responsible for stopping Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon when Oklahoma runs the ball. Boulware is one of the physical and emotional leaders of the D, ranking second on the team with 121 stops and first with 22 quarterback pressures. Clemson likes to unleash both he and B.J. Goodson from the second level, flooding the backfield with chaos and intensity.

    5. LT Mitch Hyatt

    Hyatt has been the cover boy of a Tiger O-line that’s blown past expectations in 2015. The unit was an area of major trepidation in the offseason, especially after projected starter Isaiah Battle bolted for the NFL supplemental draft. But Hyatt, a blue-chipper, has enjoyed a most remarkable debut, anchoring the left side of a line that’s allowed an ACC-low 14 sacks. He moves effortlessly for a 6-5, 295-pounder, important when facing the rush of DE Charles Tapper and OLB Eric Striker.

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