Hi Clemson fans. I don’t know about you, but I am so ready to see a good weekend from the Tigers. I am no longer hoping for a big turnaround where we see DJU pass for 400 yards like he did last year against Notre Dame, or big downfield plays from the passing game. I don’t think there will be an explosion, but I do think we can see incremental improvements from this offense.
If I had one wish to be fulfilled for this weekend, it would be for the offensive line to take a step forward in their development. I have heard all week how Georgia Tech came out in a different defense than Clemson was expecting, and how that impacted the Tigers’ offensive strategy and play calling. Georgia Tech didn’t change their strategy to a 3-man front because they were being cute. They did it because Clemson was unable to do anything against it. If Georgia Tech can make it work, any team can make it work. Clemson should expect every team on the schedule to rush three and drop eight with deep safeties until the Tigers prove they can beat that formation. The first key to beating a defense like that is for the offensive line to run block against those three rushers. That will make it possible for the running backs to get more yards and move the chains on the ground. The second key is for the offensive line and the running backs to pass block and give DJU a clean pocket to find the short & intermediate passes. When those two things happen, the defense will have to dedicate more players to the line of scrimmage, removing some of the coverage down field, opening the possibility that DJU can put up those 50/50 balls for Ross & Ngata, or find Ladson streaking down the field.
I love what our defense has put together so far, and I have my heart set on keeping their streak of games not allowing an offensive touchdown alive. I would presume that NC State will probably end that streak, but I do think the Tigers can have success against the Wolfpack offense. Tyler Davis’s absence will hurt for the next couple months, but he was out against Georgia due to COVID protocols, and the defense was still very good.
Looking elsewhere, the Thursday game between Appalachian State and Marshall is a good matchup between strong G5 programs, and Friday’s game between Wake Forest and Virginia could be sneaky good. The noon slate on Saturday is highlighted by the Notre Dame vs Wisconsin matchup in Chicago, but I think the sleeper in this time slot could be SMU at TCU. These teams are right next door to each other, and this series goes back a long way. SMU’s quarterback Mordecai is a transfer from Oklahoma and has been playing very well for the Ponies. SMU would love nothing more than to punk TCU and the Big 12. The main SEC game is Texas A&M vs Arkansas, which is overall unexciting to me, but I am curious if Arkansas is for real. The most interesting game of the evening might be West Virginia at Oklahoma. Just like Clemson, OU’s offense hasn’t been as good as expected, and West Virginia has been surprisingly capable in the passing game. If the Mountaineers were at home, the Sooners might be on upset alert, but this game is in Norman, so I expect Oklahoma to win here. Overall, not a ton to get excited about this weekend, but most teams will be getting deep into their conference schedules soon, so the best games are right around the corner.