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Clemson Defensive Front Continues to Dominate

By BJ Bennett
SouthernPigskin.com
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The Tigers, remarkably, have now led the nation in tackles for loss four years in a row

The performance of Clemson's defensive front was absolutely critical towards the Tigers winning their first national championship since 1981. In the trenches, Clemson overwhelmed opponents with an aggressive force that helped hold eight different teams to 13 points or less and shutout Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl. With at least seven tackles for loss in every single game this season, and seven different defenders with a minimum of nine, the Tigers finished number one in the nation with 130 such stops.

As Clemson has built a college football power, the foundation has been laid at the line of scrimmage. The Tigers, remarkably, have now led the nation in tackles for loss four years in a row. That dominance, being the absolute best at something so important for such an extended period of time, is hard to find throughout history.

Expect more of the same moving forward. The return of Clelin Ferrell, Dexter Lawrence and Christian Wilkins will likely give Clemson college football's premier defensive lines next season. Kendall Joseph and Dorian O'Daniel will be back as standouts at linebacker. Even more blue chip recruits are on the way in. Defensive coordinator Brent Venables, the reigning Broyles Award winner given to the nation's top assistant coach, will have considerable talent and experience with which to work.   

Reviewing what was an impressive run by the entire unit, the Tigers finished as the ACC leader in scoring defense, total defense, tackles for loss, opponent passer rating and interceptions gained, ranking second in redzone defense, third down defense and sacks. Clemson shutout three different teams, the Buckeyes included. The Tigers got after opposing offenses with remarkable consistency.

Over the past four years, Clemson has recorded 510 tackles for loss; the runner-up in that time frame, is Virginia Tech with 403. The Tigers have won a lot of games and, now, a national championship by winning at the point of attack.

BJ Bennett - B.J. Bennett is SouthernPigskin.com's founder and publisher. He is the co-host of "Three & Out" with Kevin Thomas and Ben Troupe on the "Southern Pigskin Radio Network". Email: bj@espncoastal.com / Twitter: @BJBennettSports