September 26, 2014

Game Prediction - Clemson vs. UNC

Home sweet home.

Arguably Clemson’s toughest stretch of games - road tilts at Georgia and at Florida State – are in the past. Unfortunately, neither game ended quite like the Tigers may have wanted but there’s one thing for sure – Dabo Swinney’s Tigers are battle tested.

After a rough stretch to begin the season the Clemson Tigers finally get to play in the friendly confines of Death Valley.

Can the Tigers start off the three-game home stand with a bang?

WHAT: North Carolina at Clemson
WHERE: Memorial Stadium
WHEN: Saturday, September 27th (7:00 p.m.)

Clemson vs North Carolina (57)


*TEMPO, TEMPO, TEMPO: Clemson’s offense is fast but North Carolina head coach Larry Fedora runs his offense at a different speed. The Tar Heels are running an average of 79 plays per game – even when allowing the other team (ECU) to score 70 points. North Carolina is averaging over 42 points per game and over 5 yards per play. The key for Clemson’s defense will be handling the tempo that North Carolina likes to play. Can Fedora and the Tar Heels exploit Clemson’s aggressiveness and pressure on defense with quick passes and the run game?

The Tar Heels are sitting at 2-1 in 2014 but they haven’t exactly played a difficult schedule with games against Liberty, San Diego State and East Carolina. It took a last gasp touchdown to beat San Diego State and East Carolina imposed their will in a 70-41 victory over North Carolina a week ago. The good news for the Tar Heels is that none of those games matter. The ACC Coastal division is there for the taking and it all starts Saturday at Clemson. Will new life be just what the doctor ordered for North Carolina?

*Special Teams: Special teams or lack thereof have become a common theme for Clemson opponents. It seems like every team has that special element that Clemson lacks on special teams. The Tar Heels have sophomore Ryan Switzer who returned five punts for touchdowns in 2013. North Carolina place kicker Nick Weiler is perfect in 2014 on field goals – hitting all three of his attempts.


Clemson has started the 2014 season with just one game at home – against South Carolina State three weeks ago. After two losses to Top 10 opponents, the Tigers are ready to get back to the friendly confines of Death Valley. It’s a night game against an old ACC foe. Add in the fact that freshman sensation Deshaun Watson will be making the first start of his collegiate career and the Tigers have one of the best defenses in the country and the atmosphere should be electric. The weather should be perfect so there shouldn’t be any excuses from the fans as to why they didn’t show up.

If you talk to just about any football player they will tell you that once the game kicks off it’s all about blocking, tackling and physical fundamentals and that all of the emotion goes away. However, after the heartbreaking loss to Florida State last week, the Clemson football players can’t wait to get back out on the field and flush the defeat. They are also ready to show that they are an elite team and can run the table to finish the season with double digit wins. Their journey starts Saturday.

*DEFENSE: The Clemson defense played about as well as anyone could have possibly imagined last week against Florida State and they were robbed of a victory because of Clemson’s lack of offense in the redzone and special teams miscues. All indications are that the defense is focused and willing to do whatever it takes to be successful this season. North Carolina will have a tall task in front of them if they are to score enough points to leave Clemson with a win. The Tiger defense is ranked 12th in total defense, 16th in pass defense and 33rd in rush defense.

As good as North Carolina’s offense can be – especially with Marquise Williams at quarterback, receivers Bug Howard, Ryan Switzer and Quinshad Davis and tailback T.J. Logan – the defense can be just as bad. Deshaun Watson will be able to move the ball on the Tar Heel defense and Clemson’s running game should be able to finally get going. Defensively, the Tigers will need to balance pressure and aggressiveness and to keep plays in front of them. With North Carolina’s tempo, Brent Venables will need the two and maybe three deep rotation on defense at his disposal.


Post written by Clemson Girl Sports Bloggess Nikki Steele

September 19, 2014

Game Prediction - Clemson vs. FSU

109Ready or not - all eyes will be on the Florida’s capital city in a little more than 24 hours as the Tigers and Seminoles square off in a primetime matchup.

There have been a lot of headlines and story lines for both teams over the past two weeks, including Florida St. quarterback Jameis Winston’s suspension and who will see the most time at quarterback for the Tigers.

Who has prepared the best and who will be able to block out all of the distractions?

Only time will tell.

WHAT: No. 22 Clemson at No. 1 Florida St.
WHERE: Doak Campbell Stadium
WHEN: Saturday, September 20th (8:18 p.m.)


The advantage of playing at home can’t be overstated and luckily for the defending national champions, they get to play in the comforts of Doak Campbell Stadium, which will be loud and raucous while the Tigers on offense and nearly silent when the ‘Noles offense takes the field. How will Clemson quarterbacks Cole Stoudt and Deshaun Watson handle the noise? Can Clemson block out all of the distractions coming from the stands? Since 2000, Clemson has come away with one victory (2006) on the road in Tallahassee.

*OFFENSIVE LINE: The team that usually wins the game is the one with the better offensive line – see the Georgia and South Carolina game from a week ago and even Thursday night’s matchup between Kansas State and Auburn. Florida State will start five seniors on the offensive line, including All-ACC left tackle Cameron Erving. Clemson on the other hand will only start senior Kalon Davis at right guard and graduate Reid Webster at left guard.

*ROBERT AGUAYO: Clemson learned first hand how important special teams play can be in the Georgia game after a missed field goal by Ammon Lakip served as the turning point in the Tigers 45-21 loss to the Bulldogs. This week, Clemson is facing an even better kicker than Georgia’s Marshall Morgan in Aguayo. The sophomore kicker is the reigning Lou Groza Award winner and has hit 102-of-102 PATs and 27-of-28 field goals – an unthinkable 99.2-percent of his kicks during his brief career at Florida St.


Under Dabo Swinney, the Clemson Tigers don’t take the role of the underdog lightly and they usually show up and pull the upset when the world least expects it. In the 2012 Chick-fil-A Bowl, all everyone wanted to talk about was how great the LSU defense was and how there was no way Clemson’s offense could possibly hold up against a physical SEC team. What happened? Tajh Boyd and Nuk Hopkins refused to be stopped and Chandler Catanzaro kicked a field goal as time expired to give Clemson a 25-24 victory. In January’s Orange Bowl, nobody gave Clemson a shot against Ohio State’s defense or a shot to stop Braxton Miller or Carlos Hyde. What happened? Sammy Watkins became a one man wrecking crew on offense, while Grady Jarrett, Stephone Anthony and Spencer Shuey gave Miller the infamous “Hurtin’ Buckaroo” nickname.

ESPN and every sports fan across the country has been fixated on Tallahassee, Florida over the last three days but not because Florida St. is doing all of the right things and is well on its way to becoming back-to-back national champions, but because Winston can’t seem to stay out of trouble and keep his program out of the spotlight. Coaches and players don’t like distractions during game week and this week one team has had them while the other team has been able focus on game preparation and on their opponent. Clemson has had the less drama filled week and should be more mentally prepared going into Saturday night’s contest.

*DEFENSE: Clemson’s defense is filled with seniors and graduate students – including every member of the starting defensive line, two linebackers and two defensive backs. They’ve experienced playing in the hostile environments and have faced adversity during their time as a Clemson Tiger. They know exactly what it’s going to take to come out of Tallahassee with a win. Clemson is ranked sixth in total defense, giving up 251 yards per game. The Tigers are giving up just 84 yards through the air – or 3.3 yards per attempt – good for second nationally. Clemson is also giving up 167 yards on the ground per game.

The 16.5 point spread is a little much, despite the outcome of the 2013 match in Death Valley. Yes, Florida St. has the reigning Heisman Trophy winner. Yes, the game is at Doak Campbell Stadium. However, Clemson is out to prove that the week one loss to Georgia was a fluke and that they can play with anyone in the country. This game will come down to the lines of scrimmage. How will Clemson’s offensive line hold up against the constant pressure from the Seminoles defense and how much pressure can Clemson’s defensive line create against a talented and experienced Florida St. offensive line. Unfortunately, the Seminoles offensive line and weapons in wide receiver Rashad Greene, tight end Nick O’Leary and running back Karlos Williams prove to be too much.


Post written by Clemson Girl Sports Bloggess Nikki Steele
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