For Virginia Tech, Defeating Clemson Will Be a Challenge

by JustinC on October 16, 2012 · 8 comments

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hi res 137269648 crop 650x440 300x203 For Virginia Tech, Defeating Clemson Will Be a ChallengeThere’s no sugarcoating it. Barring exemplary play from Virginia Tech on both sides of the ball, the Hokies will likely lose to Clemson this weekend for the 3rd time in the last 12 months. The Hokies can’t coast their way through the first quarter, fall behind, and expect to come back. To do that against Duke is one thing, to do it in Death Valley is another.

Clemson enters this game 5-1 on the season and fresh off a bye week. So far this season, they’re lowest point total in any game came in week one against Auburn. They scored 26 points that week. Since then, they’ve posted 52, 41, 37, 45, and 47 points each week. That’s good for 11th nationally in scoring offense.

The rest of Clemson’s offensive rankings look like this:

Total O: 13th (525.83 ypg)
Rushing O: 32nd (201.17 ypg)
Passing O: 11th(324.67 ypg)
Sacks Allowed: 53rd (1.67 per game)
3rd Down O: 7th (54%)
Red Zone O: 1st (97%) – 20 TDs in 29 chances, 8 field goals.

Clemson is good at keeping the chains moving, hitting big plays in both the running and the passing game, and scoring when they get the ball inside the 20. With Tajh Boyd at quarterback, Andre Ellington at running back, Nuke Hopkins and Sammy Watkins outwide, this offense can almost move the ball at will. The Hokies will need a big game from their secondary if they want to have a chance late in this one.

If you look back to the FSU game, there’s really only one way to slow this offense down and that’s to win the battle at the line of scrimmage. Of course, it’s not just about pushing your man into the backfield if you’re a defensive lineman. You have to read what Clemson is doing. The Tiger’s offense is like Paul Johnson’s offense on steroids. Not only do they average over 200 yards on the ground but Tajh Boyd is a tremendous passer as well. This game will challenge our defense.

However, I have some faith that Bud Foster will devise a plan to limit Clemson out of the gate. But, he’s going to need Bryan Stinespring and Mike O’Cain’s guys to play a tremendous ballgame.

Really, if the Hokies want to win this one, they’re going to have to outscore Clemson. Enough with this let our defense play well enough and we’ll squeeze out a victory mantra that we’ve had through Frank Beamer’s entire career here. That works when our defense is actually worth a damn. This year, our defense is very average. So, it will be up to our offense to score. A lot.

The Hokies have put together impressive halves so far this season. We totaled 330 yards in the 2nd half vs. Cincinnati and totaled 525 yards against Duke last week, with most of those coming in the final three quarters. So, when our offense works, it works well.

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The good news here is Clemson’s defense has been atrocious and whatever edge they had on us last year ended once Kevin Steele was shown the door. Here are Clemson’s defensive rankings.

Total D: 97th (445.50 ypg)
Rush D: 99th (202 ypg)
Pass D: 78th (242.83 ypg)
Scoring D: 69th (27.33 ppg)
Sacks: 104th (1.17 per game)
3rd Down D: 20th (32.93%)
Red Zone D: 21st (71%) – 11 TDs in 24 chances, six field goals

Those stats show one very important trend. Between the 20’s, Clemson can stop nobody. But get into a 3rd and medium, especially in the redzone, and this defense comes alive. A lot of that is due to new defensive coordinator Brent Venables defensive strategy. With our starting center out, the Hokies can expect to see just about every blitz option Venables has in his playbook on Saturday.

Final Thoughts

This could be one of those games that define a season. A loss here would move Virginia Tech back to .500 on the season at 4-4. It makes the Miami game a must win matchup if the Hokies want to stumble their way back to Charlotte. But, if the Hokies pull out a win, it could savage what has been a sub-par year for Virginia Tech; especially, if they win next week against Miami as well. That will bring FSU into town on a Thursday night to face the full wrath of HokieNation.

I’m not expecting any miracles on Saturday. The crowd noise will provide it’s challenges and with a 3rd string center snapping the ball that is a major concern. On paper, this isn’t a game that the Hokies should win. But college football is whacky at times. Let’s just hope our team responds and can at least keep this competitive. Just keep it close enough to give Logan Thomas a chance to win the game in the 4th quarter. That’s about the best you can hope for.

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

vang11 October 16, 2012 at 2:59 pm

I really only see one possible way that we win this one, LT throws for 400+, JC comes up with some big plays, we take care of the ball, and our defense line just goes into beast mode. Our secondary just doesn’t match up with the speed and ability of their wide receivers. Not to mention that we absolutely can’t stop the run when we’re in the nickel and that will be most of the plays on Saturday. We need to score early and often to put some pressure on Clemson. With all of that talent Clemson is still a very young team and the only team that really pressured them was FSU and they really didn’t perform at the end of that game. Our defense will have to play up to their potential, and we have to continue to hit the big plays. Honestly, three players are going to have to keep us in the game, Knowles, Davis, Thomas, and Coleman.

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VTShane October 18, 2012 at 2:19 pm

With Antone at corner, we will get smoked. If we get behind in this one, we lose! We don’t coach well from behind and we have become predictable to opposing staffs. I am not be a hater as I love our Hokies like everyone else…..fact is we need coaching changes. The kids we have are talented just like in previous years…..coaching and playcalling suck!

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Jack October 16, 2012 at 4:32 pm

That’s four players…

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vthokie18 October 16, 2012 at 5:16 pm

I don’t know how many of them were designed runs last week but I do think Logan needs to be more active in the running game again. I think alot of JC’s success last week was because LT was having success running the ball causing the defense to pay ALOT more attention to him than in games past. This is something that he excelled at last year helping David Wilson have a monster season and I think we need to get back to that as much as possible. I know everyone always talks about not wanting to get your QB hurt, but let me put it this way LT is bigger than any running back I can remember and we never had a problem handing the ball to a RB 25 times in a game in fear of him getting hurt I think you let him loose and let him do his thing.

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Hokiefan4life October 16, 2012 at 7:27 pm

I mentioned it in the last post this game comes down to our Secondary vs Clemson’s Wideouts if Exum and Fuller plays even close to the way he’s been playing in the previous games were going to be in trouble. I also hope that Tariq Edwards and even true Freshman Manning actually can come into the game and help out this week. I know its a far cry especially since Manning isn’t or hasn’t played up to his potential, but to be honest he’s got have some kind of talent to maybe cover the 4th wideout maybe,because I’ve watched and noticed that Clemson runs a lot of Spread with a lot of 3-4 wideout sets sometimes including a TE as well. I just don’t seem to have any confidence in Exum his coverage skills haven’t been very good this year and Fuller he’s been banged up this season. In my own opinion only I think if Exum is going to continue to play CB next year he needs to drop some weight and work on his hips, change of direction, and locating the ball better over the offseason. I know he’s athletic, but he’s not a player that can carry that kind of weight and move at the Corner’s spot very well. What comes to my mind is Patrick Peterson which was 2 inches taller and about the same weight as Exum. Sorry for my long rant, but hopefully we an pull it off.

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justinc October 17, 2012 at 11:34 am

Manning just isn’t ready. We have who we have. Not much we can do about it now except coach those guys up and try to put them in a position to make plays.

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scott October 18, 2012 at 1:35 am

We need to go old school to win this week block a punt or field goal, score some points with d or special teams, run the ball to chew clock, hit a few deep balls on play action.

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jp_daddi0 October 18, 2012 at 12:31 pm

Remember in 07 when we had 3 special teams touchdowns against Clemson, 2 by Eddie Royal (one got called back) and 1 by Macho Harris? Man, if we could pull something like that off, it could mean the W for the O&M. Justin, I agree with you on Manning, the kid is talented and is a future starting corner for this squad but he definitely isn’t ready for the big time yet, especially against Nuk and Sammy Watkins, no less.
I really hope we can stay in this game and keep it close. I live in Charleston, SC and I work with a littany of Clemson fans. A loss on Saturday will mean a rough week following…

GO HOKIES #BEATCLEMSON

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