Mackensie Alexander: Shutdown corner, with the (lack of) stats to back it up

Clemson's Mackensie Alexander (2) breaks up a pass to UNC's Bug Howard (84) from quarterback Marquise Williams during the third quarter at Memorial Stadium in Clemson, S.C., on Saturday, Sept. 27, 2014. Clemson won, 50-35. (Robert Willett/Raleigh News & Observer/MCT)

CLEMSON – It was puzzling when Phil Steele, who knows more about college football than you do about anything, listed a certain Clemson cornerback as a third-team preseason all-ACC defensive back.

Mackensie Alexander, bested by eight other ACC DBs? Could it be?

Preseason accolades and prognostications are as useful as the points on Whose Line Is It Anyway?, the remote during a World Cup final and, well, preseason watch lists. However, they do do a great job of riling us up.

The reality is, Alexander’s being overlooked for a couple reasons. One, he doesn’t talk to the media that much, and like it or not, exposure is the catalyst to recognition.

And two – more importantly – he plays a position where silence is a virtue. Where statistics (22 tackles, six deflected passes, zero interceptions) don’t tell the whole story.

Well, as it turns out, longtime sports information director Tim Bourret can tell the whole story. Bourret, who knows more about Clemson than Steele does about college football and you know about anything combined, broke down film of Alexander’s true impact during his freshman campaign of 2014 and called it “Alexander’s hidden stats.”

Here’s what Bourret unearthed:

- Opponents threw 374 passes on Alexander’s team-leading 766 snaps. Only 57 were directed at Alexander’s man (or 15.2 percent of attempts.)

- Those 57 passes toward Alexander resulted in 20 completions for 280 yards and two touchdowns. That’s a completion percentage of 35.1 percent.

- Opposing passing numbers vs. Alexander includes FSU QB Sean Maguire’s 74-yarder to Rashad Greene when Alexander slipped on the Doak Campbell Stadium grass; take out that turf monster banana peel, and the numbers turn to 19 catches, 206 yards and one touchdown in 13 games.

- During a five-game stretch spanning October and early November – most of which was with star quarterback Deshaun Watson sidelined due to injury and the Tigers locked in defensive battles – Alexander faced 14 pass attempts. He permitted one catch for minus-two yards.

- Including the Greene gain, Alexander targets yielded just nine yards a completion and 4.9 yards an attempt.

- The Greene catch was the only one all year gaining 20 or more yards against Alexander all year.

Here is Bourret’s full Alexander chart:

Opponent | Completions-Attempts, Yards (TDs)

Georgia | 2-2, 9 (0)

S.C. State | 1-1, 2 (0)

Florida State | 3-9, 102 (1)

North Carolina | 4-7, 51 (1)

N.C. State | 0-2, 0 (0)

Louisville | 0-3, 0 (0)

Boston College | 1-4, -2 (0)

Syracuse | 0-3, 0 (0)

Wake Forest | 0-2, 0 (0)

Georgia Tech | 3-6, 52 (0)

Georgia State | 1-6, 17 (0)

South Carolina | 4-5, 36 (0)

Oklahoma | 1-7, 13 (0)

TOTALS | 20-57, 280 (2)