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Nov
30
2011

What to watch for as Clemson and Virginia Tech battle for the ACC Title.

A few weeks ago it looked the Clemson Tigers and Virginia Tech Hokies were headed towards an epic showdown in the ACC Title game. Clemson was 8-0 and ranked in the top 10. Virginia Tech was charging up the polls with their only loss being to Clemson. There were dreams of an ACCCG with national title dreams and the possibility of 2 ACC BCS teams. It was the earliest sellout the ACCCG has ever had.

Virginia Tech kept winning and is now ranked 3rd in the country. Clemson on the other hand went into a November swoon that has them limping into the title game, losers of 3 their last 4, all three losses by 2 TDs or more.

With the Orange Bowl and an ACC Title on the line, the Hokies have the remotest of shots at the National Title Game. It’s not realistic but if LSU gets blown out by UGA and Oklahoma St. loses to Oklahoma, the Hokies might sneak into the game. Not likely, but with an ACC Championship game win, the Hokies have a chance at a 13-1 season and a top 3 finish.

The Tigers can still have a 10+ win season and an ACC Crown will put the month of November in the rearview mirror. To the Clemson fans that bought tickets to the title game and have suddenly bailed on the game. Shame on you… Sadly there are a lot more for Sale Ads than Wanted Ads on one of the main Clemson ticket exchange sites. It’s been a rough few weeks, but hey you’re still in the ACCCG, and you still can win the game and I’ll tell you how with some keys for both teams starting with Clemson.

1) Most importantly, Clemson needs to start having fun again. What was so remarkable during Clemson’s 3 game winning streak over Auburn, Florida State, and Virginia Tech was how loose they played. They had nothing to lose and they played like it. Now The Tigers look tight and frustrated. Clemson needs any early opening score. If they fall behind early it could get real ugly real fast.

2) Contain the two head monster of QB Logan Thomas and RB David Wilson. I say contain, because the Tiger’s defense is not capable of stopping both. Thomas is light years better than he was in Clemson’s 23-3 win over the Hokies. Wilson is the country’s most underrated back. He’s just now starting to get the recognition he deserves. Kevin Steele’s defense has been awful in recent weeks and needs to get better fast.

3) Get Sammy Watkins and the other playmakers involved… 2 weeks ago Watkins was hurt, and last week Watkins still didn’t look 100%.  The Hokies controlled Watkins the first time around, but the Tigers won because their defense played their best game of the season in the earlier matchup. The Tigers shouldn’t expect a similar performance from the defense, so the Tiger offensive stars Watkins, Andre Ellington, DeAndre Hopkins and Dwayne Allen need to be involved.

Keys for Virginia Tech

1) Put Clemson away early. This goes back to the key for Clemson… If the Hokies go up 10-0 or 14-0 early, this game will be over. The Tigers are a mentally fragile team and an early deficit for Clemson will end this one before Halftime.

2) Find the Wide Receivers. The Hokie wideouts Danny Coale and Jarrett Boykin don’t nearly get the credit they should. Clemson’s struggling defense will likely need to sellout to stop the run or blitz like mad to pressure Thomas. Guess who that leaves in one on one coverage, Coale and Boykin and they can make plays.

3) Pressure Clemson’s QB Tajh Boyd. Boyd looks the quarterback I saw in the Clemson spring game, and not the one who led Clemson to an 8-0 start. His mechanics have broken down especially when he has gotten pressured these last few weeks.

I think we can clearly see here we have two teams headed in completely opposite directions, and there is one overriding key… the start of the game.  Minus an injury here or there, these are the same players from earlier in the season, but one team is rolling and the other can’t keep from getting blown out.

That’s all mental folks. Clemson must start the game well. If they do that I think they can stay in the game with Virginia Tech. If the start is poor oh man this could turn into a route. I like the Tigers to play far better than the last two weeks, (well they can’ t play much worse), but the Hokies are on a mission. Virginia Tech 35 Clemson 24.



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