November 20, 2015

Game Prediction - Clemson vs. Wake Forest

Enjoy every second of Saturday’s game against Wake Forest because it will be the last time you see this group of young men don the tiger paw in Death Valley.

It’s the last time you’ll see Zac Brooks, Eric Mac Lain, Joe Gore, Ryan Norton, Charone Peake, D.J. Reader, and several other Clemson players. Enjoy what a special season 2015 has been one last time in Memorial Stadium.

While you’re enjoying Senior Day, don’t forget to stop for a second and pay homage to the men and women who have sacrificed for our country and the reason why Clemson’s football stadium is named Memorial Stadium.

KICKOFF: 3:30 P.M.

Clemson’s defense has struggled over the last three weeks, particularly with the running game. Did defensive coordinator Brent Venables do enough to get their attention? Can they get back to form against one of the worst offenses in the country? The Demon Deacons are 112th nationally in total offense (339 ypg), 119th in scoring offense (17.5 ppg), 121st in rushing offense (a paltry 111.10 yards per game) and 59th in passing offense at 228 yards per game. Wake Forest has played two quarterbacks – sophomore John Wolford and freshman Kendall Hinton – but neither has found a ton of success because of the offensive line. Will we see more of the shift Hinton on Saturday?

In addition to all of the seniors playing their last game, this could be the final home game for defensive end Shaq Lawson, safety Jayron Kearse, and cornerback Mackensie Alexander. All three will be crucial to Clemson’s success Saturday and over the next two-plus games.

CLEMSON OFFENSE VS. WAKE FOREST DEFENSE: Clemson’s offense has been on a roll over the last five weeks with a punishing running game and an air-raid attack led by quarterback Deshaun Watson. Watson continues to move up the Heisman boards and has multiple 400-yard games on the season. This week I expect Clemson to get back to the running game, which they got away from at times last week against Syracuse; however, I also expect to see senior Zac Brooks tote the rock a good bit on Saturday with starter Wayne Gallman nursing a sprained ankle.

Wake Forest brings in a top 25 defense led by senior linebacker Brandon Chubb, however Clemson has had success against the top defenses is the country. Just ask Boston College, N.C. State and Florida State.

SPECIAL TEAMS: I’m pretty sure I’ve written something similar in this space each week. Greg Huegel continues to impress as a walk-on kicker and is perfect in ACC play, but outside of his performance Clemson’s special teams have been average at best. Kickoff coverage continues to be a disaster and the Tigers have to find an answer on kickoff or punt return. Wake Forest brings in punter Alex Kinal, who leads the nation in career punts, and a kicker in Mike Weaver is 11-of-17 on field goals.

WHAT WILL HAPPEN: Wake Forest is coming to Clemson thinking they have a chance to win and treating it as their own National Championship game, but unfortunately for the Demon Deacons talent and the emotion of Senior Day will win out. Clemson’s defense will start playing like the unit we saw over the course of the first seven games, while the offense will continue to roll.


Post written by Clemson Girl Sports Bloggess Nikki Hood

November 13, 2015

Game Prediction - Clemson vs. Syracuse

The Clemson Tigers (9-0 overall, 6-0 ACC) are in a New York State of Mind as they go on the road to take on a struggling Syracuse team.

Can the Tigers handle the Carrier Dome and avoid an emotional let down and claim their fifth consecutive 10-win season?

KICKOFF: 3:30 P.M.

Clemson’s defense gave up 194 yards to Dalvin Cook – one of the country’s top running backs – last week; however, they essentially shut him down in the second half. Syracuse won’t present near the challenge that Florida State did a week ago, especially without starting quarterback Eric Dungey. Zack Mahoney – who is 25-of-50 for 217 yards, four touchdowns and an interception – will start in his place. Mahoney’s top target will undoubtedly be Steve Ismael who has 30 catches for 458 yards and five touchdowns. Jordan Fredericks is the Orange’s leading rusher with 82 carries for 426 yards.

The big question for Syracuse is can they give their young quarterback time to throw the ball or open up holes for Fredericks? The way Clemson’s defensive line and linebackers have played recently, the answer will be no.

Clemson’s is as balanced an offense as you will find in the country and is averaging 488 yards of total offense, despite playing four of the top 25 defenses in the country. Wayne Gallman has 977 yards and should break the 1,000 yard mark Saturday afternoon, while quarterback Deshaun Watson will be looking to break the 500 yard mark.

Outside of the first half against Florida State, Deshaun Watson has been almost spectacular his season, and he may just have the chance to put up Heisman worthy numbers Saturday as Syracuse gives up almost 275 yards per game through the air – 111th in the country. However, he will need to find his accuracy on the long ball again if Clemson wants to have the explosive plays.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Outside of place kicker Greg Huegel who is 13-for-13 in ACC play, Clemson’s special teams has been average at best. Punter Andy Teasdall has been inconsistent. The kickoff coverage unit has struggled when Ammon Lakip doesn’t kick the ball into the endzone, and the return games have been almost non-existent. For Syracuse, Riley Dixon is averaging almost 44 yards per punt, while Ryan Norton handles kickoffs and hasn’t allowed a return in 21-of-46 attempts. At punt return, Brisley Estime has two touchdowns in 14 attempts.

WHAT WILL HAPPEN: As much as this has the look and feel of a trap game with Clemson coming off of the emotional win over Florida State and already having the ACC Atlantic wrapped up, I just don’t think Syracuse has the Jimmys and the Joes to keep this one close. It may be close for a quarter, but the Tigers’ talent wins out. Syracuse will have a couple of big plays on special teams…..


Post written by Clemson Girl Sports Bloggess Nikki Hood

November 6, 2015

Game Prediction - Clemson vs. FSU

Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney says every game is the biggest game of the season. Well, this time he’s right.

Clemson and Florida State. It’s for an ACC Atlantic Title. It’s for a berth in the ACC Championship game. It’s for the right to remain No. 1.

Florida State broke a five-game losing streak in Death Valley the last time they traveled to Clemson with a 51-14 win and have won three straight in the series. Can the Tigers take control of the ACC from the Seminoles?


Florida St.’s offense is built around running back Dalvin Cook, one of the nation’s top backs and a one-time Clemson commit. The sophomore back sat out last week nursing ankle and hamstring injuries but is expected to be full-go Saturday. Cook has carried the ball 127 times for 1,037 yards – an 8.2 yards per carry clip – and 11 touchdowns and is averaging 148.1 yards per game. At quarterback, it’s not clear as to whether the Noles will go with graduate transfer Everett Golson, who started the season’s first seven games but missed last week with a concussion, or Sean Maguire who famously beat Clemson last year in Tallahassee. Golson has completed 139-of-207 passes for 1,659 yards and 11 scores against only one interception. However, Maguire was impressive last week in the win over Syracuse completing 23-of-35 passes for 348 yards and three touchdowns. At receiver, the Seminoles top three targets are Kermit Whitfield (37-461-2), Travis Rudolph (35-501-6) and Jesus Wilson (33-407-2).

The good news for Clemson is that Florida St’s strength is running the ball, and defensively the Tigers are very good at stopping the run. The Tigers are 14th nationally in rushing defense, giving up 109 yards per game and just six rushing touchdowns. Shaq Lawson, Carlos Watkins, Scott Pagano, D.J. Reader, Christian Wilkins and Kevin Dodd will have to get a good push at the line of scrimmage to keep FSU’s offensive line from creating any sort of hole for Cook. Last week, N.C. State found success when they matched up their running backs with linebackers on screen passes and wheel routes, so we could see the Noles try the same with the speedy and shifty Cook. Florida St.’s receivers don’t have gaudy numbers, but all it took in 2014 was one long pass to force overtime and seal Clemson’s fate. Mackensie Alexander and Cordrea Tankersley could be left a lot in man coverage with Jayron Kearse helping the run game.

CLEMSON OFFENSE VS. FLORIDA ST. DEFENSE: Clemson’s offense has seemed to find its stride the last weeks putting up 58 and 56 points. Will the Noles be able to stop Deshaun Watson and the Tigers’ balanced offense? Over the last two weeks, Watson is a combined 38 of 49 for 526 yards and six touchdowns, with each of those scoring tosses going to a different receiver. Watson also has tacked on 22 carries for 149 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. Running back Wayne Gallman continues to be a big part of the offense with 159 carries for 874 yards – an average of 5.5 yards per carry – and seven touchdowns. Regarding touchdowns, Jordan Leggett has emerged as Watson’s top target in the red zone with six scores. However, Watson isn’t afraid to spread the ball around as eight different players have recorded a receiving touchdown. Clemson’s offensive line will have one of it’s toughest tests as the Noles always have quick, powerful defensive linemen.

Josh Sweat, Jacob Pugh, and DeMarcus Walker make up the defensive end corps and have a combined 13.5 tackles for loss while Nile Lawrence-Stample and Derrick Nnadi hold down the interior of the line and have a combined four sacks. Jalen Ramsey anchors the defensive backfield and is one of the best defensive backs in the country, so Watson will have to be cognizant of his whereabouts at all times. Florida State is giving up 139 yards per game on the ground – 37th in the nation – and 184 yards through the air – 23rd in the nation.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Special teams could be a big part of Saturday’s game, and that won’t bode well for Clemson. The Tigers have given up two returns for touchdowns, along with several other long returns, and will be facing two dangerous return men in Jesus Wilson and Kermit Whitfield. Clemson has looked decent on kickoff returns, but the Noles rank seventh nationally in kickoff return defense. Roberto Aguayo has 25 touchbacks in 52 attempts while Ammon Lakip has 17 touchbacks in 38 kickoffs. FSU has the advantage at punter with Cason Beatty averaging 43.9 yards per punt with a long of 64 yards. Clemson’s Andy Teasdall is averaging just 39.5 yards. Greg Huegel has made 12-of-14 field goal attempts but missed two extra points last week. Aguayo is just 13-of-17 on field goals and had one blocked and returned for a touchdown on the final play against Georgia Tech two weeks ago.

WHAT WILL HAPPEN: There is a lot on the line for both teams - a potential playoff berth and an ACC Atlantic title for Clemson and another chance for an ACC championship for Florida State. However, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of pressure on Clemson’s football team, and maybe that’s because of Swinney’s “every game is the biggest game” mentality. Dalvin Cook will get his yards and will score a couple of times for the Seminoles because he’s just that good, but I don’t expect the Noles to get a lot going in the passing game because of Clemson’s defensive line. Clemson on the other hand will continue to roll on offense with Deshaun Watson at the helm and will make enough plays to comfortably win the game.


Post written by Clemson Girl Sports Bloggess Nikki Hood

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