Head coach Dabo Swinney and his No. 3-ranked Clemson Tigers return to Death Valley as they look to clip the wings of the Boston College Eagles this Saturday. To do that, they must continue to play with the kind of intensity that they’ve played with on both offense and defense the past two weeks.
On offense, the line must continue to protect quarterback Tajh Boyd and make some noise in the ground game. Kalon Davis is likely to get his third shot at the left guard spot after his performance for the past two weeks, as is Shaq Anthony at right tackle. Offensive coordinator Chad Morris hopes these two continue to solidify themselves and give the offensive line a little more continuity. Running back Rod McDowell must also get it going on the ground as Zac Brooks‘s role in the offense continues to grow from week to week.
Next, the linebackers must be disciplined in their run support. The Tigers rank 8oth nationally in run defense, giving up an average of 171.20 yards per game. And it just so happens that Eagles’ running back Andre Williams is currently the nation’s leading rusher with 768 rushing yards and seven touchdowns, while averaging 5.8 yards per carry. This means that linebackers Stephone Anthony and Spencer Shuey will spend plenty of time containing the nation’s leading rusher. For Boston College, their game will start and end in the ground game with Williams.
At the same time, the secondary must not get caught looking in the backfield, as Eagles’ quarterback Chase Rettig was one of the ACC‘s leading passers last season with 3,055 passing yards, and has 891 passing yards to go along with nine touchdowns and three interceptions. The Eagles’ primary threat in the passing game is Alex Amidon, who once again leads the team with 426 receiving yards and two touchdowns. If there’s one thing the Eagles will try to pull against Clemson’ it’s the play action pass to their best receiver.
Through the first five games, the Tigers’ secondary has played well for a unit that entered the season full of question marks, ranking 17th nationally in pass defense, giving up 185.4 yards through the air. The Tigers came up with four interceptions in their 49-14 victory over Syracuse. Perhaps the biggest question for this defense will be the status of starting safety Travis Blanks, who suffered an injury last week against the Orange, and his status for Saturday is questionable. If he can’t hit the field, then freshman Jayron Kearse is likely to get his first start on the defensive backend for the Tigers. Kearse has seen limited time on the field thus far, but recorded his first career interception against Syracuse.
With FSU looming just the week after, Clemson knows it can’t be caught looking ahead, and for now, their primetime matchup is not with FSU, but Boston College.