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Mackensie Alexander dominates Fuller in match-up of titans

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Clemson defensive back Mackensie Alexander owned Will Fuller Saturday night in a match-up for the ages.

Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

Clemson defensive back Mackensie Alexander had spent the better part of the last two weeks hearing what a challenge he would have going up against possibly the best wide receiver in the nation in Notre Dame's Will Fuller.

However, for Alexander there was no doubt in his mind who would come out on top of that match-up.

"I've been hearing about (Fuller) for two weeks. It was great to go out and take him out, and just turn around and laugh," Alexander told reporters early Sunday morning. "I mean...this is what I do."

The dynamic receiver was held to only two catches for 37 yards on a rainy night, a far cry from the eye popping numbers he had amassed coming into the game. Fuller entered the game with 22 catches for 454 yards and six touchdowns.
Alexander said his game-plan for containing Fuller was to show him many different looks--a plan that worked to perfection Saturday night.

"He had one catch against me. That's it," Alexander said. "He's been killing everybody all season. He's phenomenal. He's got a lot of ability. I think I minimized that and I took it away from him."I showed him a lot of different looks. To be a great DB, you've got to be able to do that. You've got to be able to change your game every week, like (Darrelle) Revis does. You just can't show up and press every play and do certain things. You've got to do different things every week, just show them something they haven't seen. He has great abilities. Taking them away tonight, it was awesome."

In-spite of holding Fuller to one catch Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said Sunday night during his weekly teleconference that Alexander still has a lot to work on.

He's certainly a great one," Swinney said of Alexander. "He made a lot of mistakes, too. We have a lot of coaching we will be able to do. There were things where he didn't do his job. Shoot, you want as many great players as you can have. But there will be a lot we can coach him from off of this game. And he loves to be coached and wants to get better."

The one thing that will be easiest to change is the talking

For much of the night Alexander was in the face of Fuller letting him know after each play exactly what he thought of his play in the game eventually drawing a warning from the officials.

"This guy, if you look at his film, his performance, his numbers, he's been killing it, killing guys that are considered some of the best," Alexander said. "I talked to him tonight and I told him, ‘I showed you a whole bunch of different looks, didn't I?' And he said, ‘Yeah, man, you showed me so much stuff I didn't know you were even doing.' I said, ‘I know, that's what I do.' 
"Fuller's a fast guy with a lot of ability to run deep vertical. I can run too, And I'm more physical than he is. He tried to come up on me. He noticed. It's tougher than you thought. Heading into this week my defensive coordinator and everybody was talking about he was the best in the country. I've been hearing about it for two weeks, so it was great to go out there and take him out of it and just turn around and laugh. This is what I do."

Head coach Dabo Swinney made it clear that just playing the game is all the Tigers need or want from the sophomore cornerback because at the end of the day emotion can cost the team.

"We don't need that mess. We have to stay focused on what we're doing," Swinney said. "Emotions are part of the game, but you can't get so emotional that you get outside of yourself and risk getting a penalty. Let your play do the talking. Everyone is prideful and that's one of the things that makes him great. He's ultra-competitive. Just make sure you channel your energy."

With Alexander shutting down one of the best receivers in the game at the end of the day his take away from the game was that this was a big win--for the whole team.

"Our defense and our offense heard how great Notre Dame was for two weeks. It was big for us to come out as a team and dominate those boys and show what we are really about. It was great. It was fun."