November 1, 2013

Game Prediction - Clemson vs. Virginia

A November to remember starts Saturday.

The Clemson win over Georgia in August was great, an undefeated September was fantastic, that month of October was pretty good, but all football teams are measured on what they do during the month of November.

If the 2013 Clemson football team wants to be remembered as an elite team, the path to a November to remember begins in Charlottesville, Virginia on Saturday.

Can the Tigers have a successful start to the month of November and leave Charlottesville with a win?


WHEN CLEMSON HAS THE BALL: After struggling against Boston College, Florida State, and the first half against Maryland, the Clemson offense started to show signs of life, beginning with a touchdown pass from Tajh Boyd to freshman tight end Jordan Leggett at the end of the first half in College Park last week. Boyd who was gimpy and banged up began to loosen up and run the ball a little bit and he also found his groove in the passing game. Add in a 200-plus yard rushing day from Roderick McDowell and Zac Brooks and the Clemson offense was hard to stop. The offensive success should continue this week against a Virginia defense that ranks 83rd in the country against the run, giving up 182 yards per game. The Tigers will need another big day McDowell as the Wahoos rank 29th nationally against the pass, giving up just 211 yards per game and have Anthony Harris in the defensive backfield, who leads the nations in interceptions with five. Boyd’s job, however, should be a little easier without Virginia’s top defensive lineman in DT Brent Urban and two cornerbacks in Demetrious Nicholson and Maurice Canady, who are all out with injuries.

WHEN VIRGINIA HAS THE BALL: Virginia’s offense starts with first-year quarterback David Watford, who has progressively gotten better each and every week and threw for a threw for a career-high 376 yards and two touchdowns in a losing effort to Georgia Tech last Saturday. The Wahoos also have two dynamic wide receivers in Tim Smith and Darius Jennings, who became the first Cavaliers ever to have at least 10 receptions each in the same game. Smith caught 10 passes for 151 yards, both career highs. Jennings had a career-best 13 receptions for 199 yards and two TDs. The Cavaliers have also had 11 different players with a rushing attempt and 18 different players have caught a pass, meaning the Tigers will have to defend the entire field. Junior tailback Kevin Parks has rushed for nine touchdowns and is second on the team in receptions with 29. Junior tight end Jake McGee has 31 catches (in seven games). Defensively, the Tigers’ defensive line will need to consistently pressure Watford to take pressure off of the defensive backs. The key will be for Clemson to shut down the Wahoos’ rushing attack, so that Vic Beasley and company can focus on Watford and containing the passing attack.

SPECIAL TEAMS: The Cavs have a solid punter in Alec Vozenilek, who is averaging 41.0 yards per punt, but the Tigers counter with Bradley Pinion who is averaging 40.75 yards per punt. Vozenilek booted the fourth-longest punt in the nation this year with a 77-yard kick at Pittsburgh. Neither team is lighting up the punt return category. Virginia is 109th nationally in kickoff returns, averaging 18.56 yards per return. Clemson is even worse – the Tigers are 123rd nationally (out of 125 teams) in averaging 17.06 yards per return. Kicker Ian Frye (3-for-4 on field goals) has been injured since late September, but may return this weekend. Clemson’s Chandler Catanzaro has been solid has always, including a 4-for-4 effort against Maryland last week.

WHAT WILL HAPPEN: Clemson’s defense plays great for three-fourths of games, but has yet to really put together a complete game effort. Could this be the week that they finally put it all together? Combine that with an offense that is continuing to regain its confidence and it should be a successful day for the Orange and White. The game will probably be close until the third quarter, but a Virginia team that is relying heavily on the play of freshmen and sophomores will eventually give in to Clemson’s athleticism and experience allowing the Tigers will pull away.


Post written by Clemson Girl Sports Bloggess Nikki Steele.

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