Some troubling reports out of Phoenix, as Aaron Brenner of the Post & Courier is saying that Clemson CB Mackensie Alexander has a hamstring issue and is a gametime decision to play tonight. Alexander hurt his hamstring in Clemson's Orange Bowl win over Oklahoma, we believe in the 4th quarter.
I've been told the same as others, without much more confirmation than this: Mackensie Alexander might be limited or out with a hamstring.— Aaron Brenner (@Aaron_Brenner) January 11, 2016
Just got a text message from Mackensie Alexander. Confirms hamstring issue. Team will evaluate him during warmups to determine effectiveness— Marty Smith (@MartySmithESPN) January 11, 2016
And just to compound on things, Aaron Brenner also tweeted that Alexander is going to play.
Alexander has apparently practice this week, and there has been no mention of his injury in the media, but the rumors say that participation will depend on warmups tonight.
Given the stakes I think Alexander at least makes an effort to go. If he's severely limited or can't go, look for some combination of Mark Fields, Ryan Carter, and Marcus Edmond to sub in. Adrian Baker would be the first choice, but he was banged up against UNC and Oklahoma so right now he would be a surprise inclusion.
In terms of strategy, this could be a big blow. We expected Alexander to be his usual shutdown self against Calvin Ridley. This would allow Clemson to stack the box to stop the run. Alexander's absence may make it more difficult for Clemson to sell out to stop the run, and if Coker can hit some pass plays it could get ugly fast.
Hopefully this is all a scare for nothing, but right now Clemson's underdog status just got a lot bigger.