Clemson Football: Three Difference Makers vs. Auburn

Jan 11, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; Clemson Tigers quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) throws a pass during the fourth quarter against the Alabama Crimson Tide in the 2016 CFP National Championship at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

In a game played by the manliest of men, these three Clemson football players will be the difference makers versus Auburn on Saturday.

Football is the best sport on Earth.

It's a game, played by the manliest of men. Gargantuan physical specimens whose bodies are finely tuned to inflict war-fare six seconds at a time, for 60-80 times per game.

If played correctly, its the only game on the planet where you must harness your inner will to survive a violent battle of physical altercations, and mental toughness. If you waver, you lose. If you are out hustled, you lose.

If you are unprepared, you lose. It's a game of human chess in which violence and emotion must be suppressed and unleashed, all at the same time. It's unique, it's celebrated and it's definitely the most glorious time of the year.

It's so close you can feel it. Kickoff is merely days away and the anticipation is pure torture. There are few things on this earth that I look forward to more than game one. It's been a long eight months since our Orange clad brethren stormed the playing surface to wreak havoc on its hapless opponents.

You'll be inundated with information, predictions, stats and storylines throughout this week and I want to continue that trend today as I will highlight a few players that I think will have an immediate impact on the game versus Auburn. Let's dive right in.

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Nov 28, 2015; Columbia, SC, USA; Clemson Tigers defensive end Shaq Lawson (90) and defensive lineman Christian Wilkins (42) celebrate after the play during the first half against the South Carolina Gamecocks at Williams-Brice Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports


It's no surprise that when you talk about a player maker, Wilkins name is one of the first to roll off of your tongue. Wilkins is a 6'4″ 310lb sophomore from Springfield, Mass. He was a First Team, Freshman All-American last season and was chosen this pre-season for the 2nd team All-ACC squad.

He was also an academic All-American in 2015. Size, speed and smarts, he's the total package. He was the #4 defensive tackle in the country when he signed with the Tigers last season. Speaking of last season, with a crowded depth chart at defensive tackle, Wilkins posted some nice numbers. 84 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, 12 QB pressures and 1 forced fumble.

He's a disruptive wrecking ball who can push through you, or run around you.

Wilkins may start at defensive end in the opener versus Auburn, not defensive tackle. When Austin Bryant went down with a foot injury, Wilkins, who had already been learning to play the defensive end position, got thrust into the role with a little more urgency during fall camp.

Your prototypical defensive end will range from 6'2″-6'6″ and from 230-270lbs. Wilkins, as stated above, is an anomaly when speaking of the role of defensive ends.

His nimbleness, fleet of foot, the way he can bend and basically run under a table at full speed is what separates this behemoth of a man from others. A 310 pound defensive end, that's just as quick off the ball as someone 40 pounds lighter is uncommon.

Watch for Wilkins to be a dominate force on Saturday. He will make a difference in this game, whether rushing the passer or stuffing the run game. The Wilkins legend will grow, and it will start about 9:05pm est.

Next: No. 2 Difference Maker

Apr 11, 2015; Clemson, SC, USA; Clemson Tigers wide receiver Mike Williams (7) celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the first half of the Clemson spring game at Clemson Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports


If you follow the Tigers at all you know the story of Mike Williams. Not just injured in-game one last season, but injured with a broken neck for goodness sakes.

The fact that he's even able to play football at all is just short of a miracle. Clemson, also coined as WRU (wide receiver university) has put some mighty fine pass catchers in the NFL as of late. Nuk Hopkins, Sammy Watkins, Jaron Brown, Martavis Bryant, just to name a few.

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That list will likely grow next spring, as Mike Williams is set for a breakout season. It also helps that the ball he's trying to catch is coming out of the hand of the best quarterbacks in college football.

Mike Williams a 6'3″ 220lbs redshirt-junior from Lake Marion High School in South Carolina was a highly recruited, highly coveted wide receiver who collected many awards and praise coming out of high school.

His sophomore season at Clemson ended with over 1,000 yards receiving and six touchdown catches. He's on virtually every major awards watch list this pre-season and he's the leader of a very deep and talented receiving corps.

Reports coming out of fall camp is Mike Williams is different this year. There is a hunger, a passion, a relentless effort that you can plainly see.

He attacks the ball in the air. His routes are crisp and defined. He's bigger, faster, and stronger than any version of Williams that we've ever witnessed before. He is passionate about blocking and he knows the offense inside and out.

He and Deshaun Watson have developed a chemistry that will be very fun to watch as this season progresses. Watch as Mike Williams puts on a show Saturday night in Jordan-Hare Stadium.

This is his draft year. He's not only playing to win a championship, he's putting together a resume that will net him millions of dollars in about nine months. If that's not motivation alone, I don't know what is.

Next: No. 1 Difference Maker

Jan 11, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; Clemson Tigers quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) throws a pass during the fourth quarter against the Alabama Crimson Tide in the 2016 CFP National Championship at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports


You certainly didn't think an article with 'difference maker' in the title would leave out the face of college football, did you? Look up difference maker in the dictionary and there's a picture of DW4. The most decorated, most popular, most heralded player in Clemson football history will suit up, for game one, of what is more than likely his last season as a Tiger.

It kind of hurts to even say that. What a run it's been, and what a ride it's going to be. Deshaun Watson is everything you could ever ask for in a student athlete. Focus, determination, toughness. All of those traits have nothing to do with physical skills if you didn't notice.

Without mentioning his arm strength, accuracy, and running ability, he's still a complete player.

The most important aspect of Watson's game isn't his height. It's not the extra 15 pounds of muscle he's added this offseason. It's the 6 inches between his ears. His decision-making ability is so incredibly sharp, so fast, so precise that even if the good Lord didn't bless him with outstanding physical traits, he'd still be a great quarterback.

Watson has a plethora of talent surrounding him. That always helps. A solid running game. A big, physical offensive line, and more wide receivers than you can shake a stick at, Watson is primed for a great year.

Watson, the nation's first and only 4,000 yard passer and 1,000 yard rusher in the same season has one goal this season.

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must read: Clemson vs Auburn: Game Announcers, TV info, and More

The College Football National Championship. It's Tampa or bust and I personally trust him. Why wouldn't you. He's done everything he's ever set out to do on the football field. He's not only a difference maker. He's the definition of a difference maker.

Why is Clemson football heavily favored versus Auburn this coming Saturday night? That's easy. We've got Deshaun, and they don't.

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