Inside Slant

The Sports Xchange

November 13, 2018 at 9:44 pm.

Jumbo Package a big hit for Tigers

Clemson’s “Jumbo Package” featuring defensive tackles Christian Wilkins and Dexter Lawrence lining up in the offensive backfield has proven a formidable and effective weapon this season.

The formation has been used multiple times this season in goal-line situations, with each resulting in a touchdown.

Wilkins rushed for a 1-yard touchdown against Florida State three weeks ago and Lawrence got his first career score one week later against Louisville on a 2-yard run.

“Dexter said he wanted to change his position from D-tackle to decoy because that’s all he’s been doing was just blocking,” Wilkins said. “So I was happy for him when he got his, but I was a little upset that he doubled my rushing total.”

In last week’s win at Boston College, the Tigers went Jumbo again and both Wilkins and Lawrence — who tip the scales at a combined 665 pounds — were decoys as quarterback Trevor Lawrence tossed a 2-yard touchdown pass to tight end Milan Richard.

Bottom line? Duke has one more major concern when the Blue Devils (7-3, 3-3) travel to Clemson Saturday to face the undefeated and second-ranked Tigers (10-0, 7-0).

“We just try to take advantage of the pieces that we have and obviously Christian and Dexter are big, strong, physical, athletic guys — so why not?” Clemson Coach Dabo Swinney said. “They’re guys that I trust. It’s just something we’ve messed with in the past, but we got a little bit more into it this year and it has paid off well for us. Hopefully we’ll have some more opportunity along the way.”

The Jumbo Package has become particularly appealing for Wilkins, a versatile athlete who plays on punt teams, has caught a touchdown pass and even took a couple of snaps at safety in Clemson’s spring game.

In an Orange Bowl victory against Oklahoma in 2014, Wilkins caught a pass on a fake punt for a first down.

“I’ve got a lot of confidence in him,” Swinney said. “He’s a skilled guy. He’s got great hands and great feet.”

So, too, does Lawrence.

“They’ve played a lot of defensive football and they’ve got a good understanding of that, so we just wanted to expand it a little more this year and take advantage of their ability while we’ve got them,” Swinney said. “They are rare guys. There’s a lot that you have to defend with them in the game. It has been good for us — one yard, two yards, those are hard yards to get sometimes, especially when you’re in a confined area.”