One Hour To Kickoff: Defense wins championships, so why not start now?

Clemson's Jayron Kearse smiles after making an interception during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Appalachian State, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015, in Clemson, S.C. (AP Photo/Richard Shiro)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Jayron Kearse is terrible at mincing words. Which is terrific for the rest of us.

“We’ll try to not even keep it close,” Kearse said Monday. “Just blow the doors off ‘em from the first quarter to the fourth quarter.”

OK, a touch of context. Clemson’s junior safety was asked about last year’s Louisville game, which was arguably (I’d argue it) the most vivid game of the Tigers’ 2014 season. It required Kearse to track down James Quick on a busted coverage and make a touchdown-saving tackle, before the Tigers made a crucial goal-line stand to survive without the benefit of an offensive touchdown.

“We’re definitely in a good place to go do it again,” Kearse said. “We’re not trying to let it get down to that point. Offense is working hard to make corrections off last week, and defense (is doing the same.) But if it happens, it happens, and we’ll be ready for the task.”

Presumably, quarterback Deshaun Watson will not get injured this game. (Presumably.) If so, and Watson plays well, Clemson won’t need to snuff out the Cardinals’ attack.

Although it wouldn’t hurt. Louisville’s out of sorts on offense, proving you truly have no quarterbacks if you have three quarterbacks who don’t quarterback very well.

“Quarterbacks just not making good decisions, that’s all I can really say,” Kearse said. “I don’t know too much about the position. If they’re playing bad, I like it. Whatever they’re doing wrong, keep doing it wrong.”

Louisville collectively brandishes the worst quarterback rating in the ACC. Defensive end Shaq Lawson was informed of this, and grinned slyly.

“I really don’t know about that,” said a coy Lawson. “We feel we’ve got one of the best secondaries in the nation, so we’ll go up there and compete with them real good.”

Lawson’s been dominant on Thursday nights in his career: three games, 7.5 tackles for a loss.

“It’s just a race to the quarterback, man. We’re going to get after it every play,” said Lawson’s bookend, Kevin Dodd. “I enjoy playing at the end of Shaq, because sometimes he’s going to make him step back and I’m going to make him step up and we’ll work together to make that play, whatever it takes.”

Look for some combination of Lamar Jackson, Reggie Bonnafon and Kyle Bolin to captain the Cardinals’ offense, which is ranked No. 78 in the country despite facing not-that-hot defenses in Auburn and Houston.

“Whoever they (go with,) we’re going to prepare like he’s been the starter since the beginning of the season and he’s a Heisman candidate,” Dodd said.