Editor's Note: This data in this post was compiled by reader Banks McFadden's Ghost and then analyzed by him. The content was edited solely for grammar and style.
Following up on Ryan's line up analysis, I went a little deeper to compare Clemson and Oklahoma at the position group level. Just to review - the depth charts are from OurLads.com and are unaltered. Recruiting star ratings were taken from Rivals and years in NCAA football includes redshirt years. As a final note, I included Oklahoma's hybrid OL/DE position in their defensive line group for a more tidy comparison to Clemson, even though he most often lines up as an outside linebacker.
Starting off with that defensive line group:
The average recruiting ranking shows a talent advantage for Clemson, but a slight seniority advantage for Oklahoma. This talent gap shows up in performance, where Clemson has proven to have the more dominant D-line. Our D-line is 4th in adjusted line yards and 14th in adjusted sack rate compared to 12th and 47th respectively for Oklahoma. The two deep comparison maintains Clemson's talent advantage, but our seniority drops - important at the DE position, where experienced depth is a concern; less important at DT where true freshman Christian (War Daddy) Wilkins lowers the average experience level, but not the quality of play.
Next up are the linebackers:
Clemson has a significant advantage in the linebacker core in both recruiting rating and experience. BJ and BB have been solid this season, and I expect a level of play from them closer to the beginning of the season with time to heal up after clocking most of the snaps all year. Brent Venables hasn't shown a wealth of confidence in the backups, which is somewhat reflected in the overall drop in talent and experience from the starters to the two deep as shown below. Although Clemson does maintain rating and seniority advantage over Oklahoma even with the backups factored in.
Finally on to the secondary:
Once again, Clemson has the more highly rated and senior group. We know that this secondary is the best we've had at Clemson in some time, and it's my opinion that we will see more separation between these two units than indicated here. We still have the advantage on paper, but I think we have an even larger one on the field. I consider Mac more of a 5* guy than 4*and Tank more of a 4* guy than 3*. I expect with the month to get fresh and no TJ Green targeting ejections, the skill level will be apparent. However, like the linebackers, depth is a major issue in the secondary. We don't want to see any of our starters in the secondary off the field, because the drop-off is usually obvious when they do. The secondary two deep is the only area of the defense where Oklahoma has a recruiting rating advantage:
So, digging into the position groups shows that Clemson has a talent advantage at every level of the defense, and a seniority advantage everywhere but the defensive line. I expect our defense to be the difference maker in this game. With a month to shake off the battle wounds of a season, I think we see a defensive performance closer to the beginning of the season than the end - and that kind of defense is something Oklahoma has not seen. My next write-up will similarly break down the offense into position groupings to see how we stack up on that side of the ball.