Much has been made of the Tigers’ last performance on Thursday night, but they pulled off the victory thanks to the play of their defense. You can look for that offensive attack to bounce back this week and for this defense to continue its week-to-week improvement.
The Demon Deacons sit at 2-2 overall and 0-1 in the ACC, with losses to Boston College and Louisiana-Monroe and paltry wins over Presbyterian and Army. The Demon Deacons have been a shell of their former selves in the conference, and aren’t the threat they used to be.
At quarterback, veteran Tanner Price has thrown for 852 yards, five touchdowns and two interceptions, while the leading rusher is Josh Harris with 151 yards and two touchdowns, averaging only 3.4 yards per carry. At receiver, Michael Campanero leads the Deacons with 354 receiving yards and two touchdowns.
Wake Forest ranks 96th in total offense, and has been struggling to put points on the board, something that an improving Clemson defensive unit can take advantage of.
On defense, the biggest factor for the Tigers’ will likely come in the trenches in the form of defensive tackle Nikita Whitlock and linebackers Justin Jackson and Hunter Williams. Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney can be sure that the Deacons will try to help out a struggling offense by trying to get pressure on quarterback Tajh Boyd early and often, using the NC State game as a sort of blueprint to get the Tigers’ offense out of rhythm.
Two years ago, the Deacons came close to upsetting the Tigers, but they pulled out the victory with a Chandler Cantanzaro 43-yard field goal. However, this is a more experienced and battle-tested Clemson team with more talent on all fronts.
The key for Clemson early will be a good dose of Rod McDowell between the tackles. McDowell continues to average 5.5 yards per carry as teams continue to show little respect for Clemson’s running attack. He has become an invaluable commodity as teams sit back in cover-2 for fear of the deep pass. Unless Wake Forest can contain McDowell, the Tigers need only be patient on offense and the results will come.
With Clemson at home and Wake Forest showing little signs of an upset special, look for the Tigers to bounce back easily and take care of business against the Demon Deacons.