September 26, 2009

Caroline's Tiger Pause: Clemson vs. TCU

I am looking forward to another home game in Tiger Town Clemson Girls! This is a huge out of conference match up against #15 TCU. I know many fans are surprised that this game is not going to be televised, but the primary reason is TCU has no television following at all. This is without a doubt one of the most difficult games remaining on our schedule. TCU has no weaknesses, they are solid on offense, defense, and special teams, they are well coached, and they have the single best defensive player we will see playing against us in Death Valley this year in All American Jerry Hughes. Hughes led the nation last year in sacks with 15, forced 6 fumbles, and tallied 2 interceptions. He has already accumulated 4 and a half sacks in just 2 games this year. Hughes is not the only thing TCU has going for them, but he is the major reason I worry about us pulling off a win today.

Hughes would have been a lot to handle regardless, but with Chris Hairston injured the situation becomes much more critical. In many ways he is our most important player because he is the best offensive tackle we have and there is not great depth behind him. Thankfully it was an MCL sprain and not an MCL tear. He could see limited action today, but the job of containing Hughes will largely go to Cory Lambert. I am really hoping this senior steps up tomorrow and has the game of his life. No one, even Hairston, can fully contain Hughes, so expect to see him disrupting our offense all day.

Last week the defense was a joy to behold. To hold BC to 55 yards of total offense was spectacular to say the least. After watching them hold BC to -2 yards in the half I was beginning to wonder if Boston College would get anything on us. I really believe our defense would have held them to even less yardage if not for the lightening delays. I can not begin to describe what a pleasure it was to see a nasty D back in Tiger Town. After seeing Kevin Steele's defense really unveiled I am convinced he is a genius. I loved the “Bamberg” formation, which at times positioned Sapp and Bowers as Linebackers. And how about that tackling? We were as intimidating and ferocious of a defense as I have seen in years. And it was nice to see us creating more turnovers—currently Clemson is 2nd in the nation with 8 interceptions (McDaniel has 4). We are also pressuring the QB like crazy, we have already recorded 7 sacks in 3 games, halfway to last year's season total! Our defense is going to have to continue to play at this high of a level to beat TCU.

TCU has a solid defense as well. They are one of the top rushing defenses in the country and Spiller and company are going to have to find a way to run the ball effectively against them. Luckily Spiller is proving to be a tough runner as well as an elusive one and Ellington is light years better than I thought he would be at this point in his career. TCU also has a 3 year starter at Quarterback, make no mistake this will absolutely be the best QB we have faced all year. They are also 15th nationally in rushing offense. Most importantly TCU is well coached. This is not a team that will beat themselves-they do not have a lot of turnovers or penalties. TCU does not lose games where the opposing team scores 17 points or less, and that is our magic number. If we can claw our way to that against a terrific defense game over we win. I always felt completely confident about this game before the injury to Hairston; make no mistake, that was a huge blow. He was without a doubt our best hope of handling Hughes. Winning this game becomes even more difficult without Chris at full speed.

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