Clemson should keep Christian Wilkins at defensive end against OSU

Before the 2016 even started for Clemson they took a major blow on the defensive line. Sophomore defensive end, Austin Bryant broke his right foot before the season began. Initially this seemed like an issue, however, the Tigers defensive line played great in Bryant’s absence. Christian Wilkins played a large part in the defensive lines success.

Nov 19, 2016; Winston-Salem, NC, USA; Clemson Tigers defensive lineman Christian Wilkins (42) stands on the field during the game against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons at BB&T Field. Clemson defeated Wake 35-13. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Defensive coordinator Brent Venables decided to move Wilkins from his normal defensive tackle spot over to defensive end. The move proved to be pure genius on Venables part. By moving Christian Wilkins to defensive end, that allowed freshman defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence to play inside beside Carlos Watkins. That starting defensive line of Clelin Ferrell, Carlos Watkins, Dexter Lawrence, and Christian Wilkins combined for 182 total tackles, 23.5 sacks, 40 tackles for loss, and 4 blocked kicks.

I’m not saying Venables shouldn’t use Austin Bryant against the Buckeyes, rather, Christian Wilkins should get the start at defensive end and Austin Bryant should be rotated in with Clelin Ferrell.

Isaiah Prince

Ohio State right tackle Isaiah Prince is a solid offensive lineman. That being said, Prince has struggle in pass protection against the better defensive lineman he has faced. Against Penn State Prince allowed a whopping 14 QB pressures. Against Wisconsin and Michigan Prince allowed 11 QB pressures.

Prince is a liability in pass protection. Brent Venables must exploit by matching him up with Clemson’s best defensive lineman in Christian Wilkins.

Depth

By moving Wilkins out to defensive end, that allowed Clemson to get Dexter Lawrence on the field. Despite his youth, Lawrence is one of the best four defensive lineman on the team. It would be silly to take Lawrence out now. Austin Bryant’s injury allowed Clemson to build a solid rotation of lineman. Now the Tigers have six or seven lineman that are capable of contributing.

Ohio State’s offensive line will have their hands full with this relentless Tigers defensive line.

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