UVA Football Preview: Clemson

Great news: basketball starts next Friday. Bad news: we still have to play football. And while the tone of this website will change drastically next week, we still have to muddle through 4 more football games. To make it worse, this Saturday marks the start of our horrible November stretch which leads up to final game against Tech. First up is a nail biter against Clemson, and by ‘nail biter’ I mean ‘total blowout’.

Clemson History

Even more depressing that this football season is UVa record against the Tigers, 8-36-1. It didn’t help that we spotted them the first 29 contests from 1955-1989, which leaves the Hoos post 1990 record at a decent 8-5-1. Sadly, with the divisions set up like they are, this will be the first time playing Clemson since 2008, when the Cavs lost to the Tigers 13-3 as Verica threw 3 picks and the only TD scored was on a C. J. Spiller pass.

Clemson Now

The Tigers are just a little better now than in 2008. In fact, a lot better. They will come into C’Ville with a 7-1 overall record and a 5-1 ACC mark, which is good enough for 8th in the BCS poll. While FSU torched their chance at a national title, they are still a strong BCS at large selection if they can navigate the last third of their season. Their biggest win was over then #5 Georgia in Atlanta 38-35, and will have a chance at the end of the year to bolster their resume when they travel to Columbia to face rival South Carolina.

Offense

Clemson runs the typical spread, but while they are Top 20 in the nation in passing, they are certainly capable of running the ball. It all starts with Tajh Boyd, who will be returning to his home state of Virginia (yay, recruiting) for the 2nd time as starting QB, with the other being Clemson visit to Lane Stadium in 2011 to dismantle VT 23-3. While early Heisman hype has cooled a little, he is still completing 64% of his passes, with 17 TDs and 5 INTs. When he isn’t getting it done in the air, he has great wheels and has rushed for 344 yards (219 if you include sacks, which I don’t) and a team-leading 6 touchdowns. While Sammy Watkins is Tajh’s go to guy (813, 5 TD), watch out for Adam Humprhries (368, 2) and Martavis Bryant (450, 3), who are averaging over 46 yards per game as well. On the ground, the majority of the touches will go to Roderick McDowell (641, 2), who has a very solid per game average as well. Bottom line is that they can hurt you several different ways.

Defense

Clemson’s 4-3 defense has been a tough one to read all year. Yes they have played some top offenses like Georgia and FSU who seems to move the ball at will, but outside of that they have been giving up about 18 points a game to okay offenses. While Virginia falls into the 3rd category of ‘anemic’, there still is a small glimmer of hope when it comes to the Tigers. DE Vic Beasley is an absolute beast coming off the edge, with 10 sacks on the year and 15 tackles for losses. What he doesn’t get, it is aptly cleaned up by LBs Stephone Anthony and Spencer Shuey, who combined have 158 tackles on the year. Starting corners Darius Robinson and Bashaud Breeland each have 3 INTs on the year and will try to funnel the WRs into the middle of the field.

Three Keys to Beating The Spread

1.       Turnovers and Points Off Turnovers. If there is any chance of hanging around a team like UVa somehow did with GT is creating a positive +/- on turnovers and converting them for points. We have found the way to get the first done, but it is the second that it truly worrisome.

2.       Pick Your Poison. Tajh will beat you in the air or the ground, but if UVa wants to curb this explosive Clemson offense, you want to force him to keep the ball and run for it. This keeps it out of the other playmakers hands and while you might not stop the 1st down, you most likely stop the 7.

3.       Chili Cookoff. It’s not a key to the game, but stop by Camp Wahoo (next to Clark Hall and Parking Lot East M) and eat some chili before the game. Might as well watch this game with some good food in ya.

Outlook

I am shocked and appalled that the line for the game is only 17. I felt this way going into the Maryland and GT games and somehow they manage to beat (or tie) the spread for the game. I also noticed that while the Hoos are 1-3-1 ATS in the last 5 weeks, Clemson is just 2-5 in their last 7 and 2-4 in the last 6 meetings with Virginia. Through this logic, it should be a decent game, but I have a feeling that Vegas is trying to even out Clemson for that Virginia, so the line is fairly low. I don’t see this as a major issue for Clemson and a 3 touchdown win is not hard to imagine. Prediction: Clemson 35, UVa 14.   

Hamilton Riley

About Hamilton Riley

Mild mannered contractor by day, sports blogger by insomnia.

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