Moments before Alabama running back Bo Scarbrough completed his 68-yard touchdown run, his offensive linemen felt a pang of frustration.
As a unit they didn’t get the blocks and they knew it. Some of them expected the Crimson Tide to lose yardage on the play, but the running back had other things in mind.
“Of course I was pumped,” Alabama left tackle Cam Robinson said. “What’s crazy, is a lot of those plays we didn’t necessarily block them well. He just made that happen. That’s just the God-given ability that he has.”
Fellow running back Josh Jacobs watched Scarbrough overwhelm the Huskies defensive front just as he’s watched his teammate overcome injuries and other complications that had some believing Scarbrough would never live up to his preseason hype as the latest dominant running back to come through Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
“Man I was so proud of Bo, me personally. I felt like Bo worked hard everyday,” Jacobs said. “…To see him keep working everyday and to come out and have a good game, it was just refreshing to me.”
Scarbrough’s 180 yard rushing performance earned him offensive MVP honors for the Peach Bowl, but it also earned him a longer look from Clemson’s defense.
“You definitely gotta take notice in that [performance],” Clemson defensive tackle Carlos Watkins said. “That guy’s a beast. We’re just going to have to wrap up, man, play physical.”
The Tiger’s defensive coordinator Brent Venables said it’s difficult to simulate the size and physicality of a guy like Scarbrough weighs in at 230, but the Tigers have faced similar backs before.
The Tiger’s linebacker still remembers how sore he felt after tackling Pittsburgh’s James Connor. He carried the ball 20 times for 134 yards to help the Panthers hand the Tigers their lone loss this season.
“I felt terrible after the Pittsburgh game, just beat up and bruised because that was a big dude,” Boulware said. “And Bo Scarbrough is the same type of animal. So we’re looking forward to that matchup. I know I’m going to be very sore after the game Monday night.”
But Scarbrough is just one piece of the puzzle and the Tigers can’t afford to overlook anyone like they did last year when tight end O.J. Howard took advantage of some blown assignments to torch the Tigers for a total of 208 receiving yards and two touchdowns on only five receptions.
“I think they have a completeness that we haven’t seen,” Venables said. “They’ve got a great deal of experience on defense as well, and then the best collection of skill that we’ve seen on offense and the best offensive tackle we’ve seen this year.”
Despite his success in last year’s showdown with the Tigers, Howard hasn’t let himself get caught up in the past this week. Every now and then he flashes back, but he said the team the Crimson Tide faces on Monday will be completely different from the one it faced last season.
“They really fly to the ball and up front they do a great job of using their hands and they got guys in the secondary that are very smart,” Howard said. “Linebacker play [is] if not the best in the nation they move to the ball and just flow through the holes.”
Howard singled out Boulware as someone the Crimson Tide has to be watchful of, and he wasn’t the only one. Jacobs said it only takes one or two plays to see what kind of opponent Boulware is and how disruptive he can be.
“He’s a player,” Jacobs said. “You can kind of see a player and one that you notice that makes a difference out of the whole defense and he’ll be that guy.”
Jacobs said Boulware and his fellow linebackers are patient and that Alabama’s running backs would have to be patient as well if they were going to find running room behind their offensive line. Clemson has held opponents to 120 yards or less on the ground in five of the Tigers’ last six games for a total of eight times this season.
Right guard Korren Kirven said Clemson’s front seven reminds him of Arkansas with their pre-snap movements. Those shifts didn’t stop the Crimson Tide from rushing for 264 yards- one of 11 games Alabama surpassed 200 yards on the ground- against the Razorbacks on Oct. 8.
“They just do a lot of stuff up front,” Kirven said. “Their defense is not really complicated, but it has some different aspects to it that we’ve seen, but there’s a little bit more than we’ve seen. They do the most that we’ve seen all season.”
If Alabama’s offensive line does it job again on Saturday, then the Crimson Tide might deliver coach Nick Saban’s fifth national title in his 10-year career at Alabama.
“We’re trying to get something accomplished that’s bigger than just one win or rattling off a few wins in a row,” Robinson said. “We know it’s a bigger goal and a bigger picture that we’re trying to reach. I think if we play well game night, you may get a smile from him.”
Source:: The Crimson White Sports