Clemson coach Dabo Swinney announced that defensive end Shaq Lawson and cornerback Mackensie Alexander were both “expected to play” in tonight’s national championship game against Alabama.
Dabo Swinney says both Shaq Lawson and Mackensie Alexander are "expected to play." pic.twitter.com/JKkynl9IO1
— College GameDay (@CollegeGameDay) January 11, 2016
Lawson instantly makes Clemson’s pass rush better, as he posted 10.5 sacks in 2015 and led the nation with 22.5 tackles for a loss. But he also sprained his MCL in the Orange Bowl semifinal against Oklahoma and had to leave the game in the first quarter, though his team’s defense fared fine without him. Against a strong Alabama offensive line, he is who the Tigers will need to pressure Tide quarterback Jake Coker.
And then there’s Alexander, who gave Clemson fans a scare earlier today when it was reported that he was dealing with a hamstring issue. He only has 21 tackles, but proved to be great at shutting down receivers and if star Alabama freshman Calvin Ridley is taken out of the game thanks to Alexander’s defense, then Clemson’s odds of winning instantly increase.
Hopefully, neither player aggravates their respective injuries tonight so that they can say that they gave their absolute best from start to finish and left it all on the field, win or lose.
Kickoff is slated for 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN, so be sure to tune in!
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*Featured Photo (above) credit to USA TODAY Sports