Talk about two programs heading in opposite directions.
Clemson has only played once since their November 7 loss to Notre Dame but they were impressive in their 52-17 dismantling of PItt. The team came out sharp and looked primed for a postseason run.
Even the Tigers stagnant running game started to show signs of life against the Panthers. Only once all season has Clemson rushed for more than 200 yards, and they’ve failed to hit the 150 yard mark in each of their last four games.
However, last week they fell just short of 150, and did it against a defense that came in intent on shutting down the ground game. Three backs averaged more than 5 YPC. In other words, the run blocking was better. Not a lot, but some. Small steps right.
If Clemson is going to get Travis Etienne going though, now is the time to do it. Virginia Tech can not stop the run. They are allowing 189 rushing yards per game and almost 5 YPC.
Fortunately for Clemson, they have that other guy they can turn to even if the running game isn’t working. You may have heard of him. HIs name is Trevor Lawrence and he’s pretty good at playing football.
Lawrence is flat out getting it done this season. So much so that he was all but a lock to win the Heisman before being forced to miss five weeks due to no fault of his own. It’s unfortunate, but it’s the nature of the beast.
The Hokies can get after the quarterback though and they love to blitz. The offensive line will have to be on its toes.
Having said all that, how this game plays out depends on how well the defense plays. Virginia Tech is basically a one-dimensional team on offense and that’s usually bad news for Clemson opponents. This week should be no different.
The Hokies go as their running game goes. Stop it and you stop them. Running back Khalil Herbert is having a monster season. He comes in just shy of 1000 yards on the season and averages over 8 YPC. All while dealing with a hamstring in recent weeks.
Quarterback Hendon Hooker is second on the team with 734 rushing yards and averages 5.4 YPC. They have mostly racked up those numbers against subpar defenses though.
Tech likes to use a lot of misdirection and a lot of motion, so the Clemson defense will have to be technically sound and play assignment football. Something Brent Venables groups have been really good at in recent seasons.
The Hokies have had two weeks to prepare for what is basically their Super Bowl this season. Head coach Justin Fuente’s job could also be on the line. So it would not be surprising to see the Hokies come out fast and hang around for a short while.
However, if they do, it won’t be for long. This Clemson offense just has to much firepower and the Virginia Tech defense is to undermanned on the back end.
This Clemson team once again comes out focused and sharp. Lawrence has another big game, Etienne goes over 100 yards, and the defense is stout.
Clemson 42 Virginia Tech 13
Some of our readers have also given us some predictions.
Nathan Shipman (Contributor): 45-17
Jeff McCoy 45-10
Scotty Mack 48-13
Pete Miller 52-17
Wesley Ray 55-17
Doug Soccio 66-10
Leonard Wade 52-13
Dino James 63-17
Bryan Moore 35-3
Tim Satterfield 56-10