Will Sarkisian Rely on Smashmouth Football Against Clemson?

Alabama fans wanted more running plays from Kiffin. Will Saban and Sarkisian agree that Smashmouth football is key to beating Clemson?

”Run the damn ball, Lane” was often demanded by fans during Lane Kiffin’s almost three year Alabama stint. Against Washington Alabama’s only consistent offensive success  came from the smashmouth football style of Bo Scarbrough.

 Will Smashmouth Football Be Enough Against Clemson?

A team with a one dimensional offense has little chance of winning a national championship.  Without offensive balance, defenses can load the box enough to stop any rushing attack. Becoming too reliant upon Bo Scarbrough’s heroics could be trouble.

Dec 31, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Washington Huskies quarterback Jake Browning (3) throws an interception as Alabama Crimson Tide linebacker Ryan Anderson (22) pressures during the fourth quarter of the 2016 CFP semifinal at the Peach Bowl at the Georgia Dome. Alabama won 24-7. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Dec 31, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Washington Huskies quarterback Jake Browning (3) throws an interception as Alabama Crimson Tide linebacker Ryan Anderson (22) pressures during the fourth quarter of the 2016 CFP semifinal at the Peach Bowl at the Georgia Dome. Alabama won 24-7. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Alabama is the 8th ranked FBS rushing team at 5.71 yards per rush and 246 yards per game.

Alabama is the FBS  #1 ranked rushing defense, allowing only 2 yards per carry. Clemson’s rush defense is ranked 19th in FBS surrendering 3.51 yards per carry.

Clemson’s defense  ranks ahead of Auburn, Washington, Florida and USC. What stands out about Clemson’s run defense is their ability to hold opponents to less than the opponent’s rushing average.

 Clemson Has Stingy Run Defense

Clemson played five teams ranked in the FBS top twenty rushing teams: Louisville; Auburn; Georgia Tech; Ohio State and Pittsburgh. Clemson held ALL of them well below their season average, rushing yards per attempt.

Dec 31, 2016; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Clemson Tigers defensive tackle Albert Huggins (67) grabs the jersey of Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback J.T. Barrett (16) as he scrambles during the fourth quarter during the 2016 CFP semifinal at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Kadlubowski/The Arizona Republic via USA TODAY Sports

Dec 31, 2016; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Clemson Tigers defensive tackle Albert Huggins (67) grabs the jersey of Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback J.T. Barrett (16) as he scrambles during the fourth quarter during the 2016 CFP semifinal at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Kadlubowski/The Arizona Republic via USA TODAY Sports

Three SEC teams with lower ranked rushing defenses than Clemson held the Tide below its average rushing average: Kentucky; Auburn and Florida.

There are many categorical battles that will determine the National Championship game outcome.

This analysis focused one stat category and one potential question.  Can the Alabama offense win a rushing battle against the Clemson defense?

There is an old refrain that anything can be read into comparing numbers.  Games are won and lost by men on a field, not numbers in a spreadsheet.  Numbers can show trends and patterns. These numbers indicate that smashmouth football or “run the damn ball, Sark” may not be enough against Clemson.

What do you think? Is smashmouth football the way to beat Clemson? Let us know on Facebook or in the comments below.

This article originally appeared on