The Tigers (2-0) play host to up-the-road rival, Furman University (0-2) of the Southern Conference this weekend at 3 p.m. Clemson enters the contest having reached at least 500 yards in offense in their first two games (Auburn, Ball State).
Saturday, what I’m looking for:
- How well Clemson stops the run: Clemson is sitting pretty at dead last in the ACC in this category. They’ve given up 432 yards on the ground so far and opponents are averaging 5.6 yards per carry. The projected starters at linebacker are Stephone Anthony, Jonathan Willard or Corico Wright, and Travis Blanks. Anthony, a sophomore, leads the team in tackles (17), but he’s got to learn how to make smarter decisions much quicker as the middle linebacker. Starting on the line will most likely be Malliciah Goodman, Grady Jarrett, DeShawn Williams, and Corey Crawford. This group has got to play more consistently. Defensive end Josh Watson said earlier this week it’s offensive to have teams thinking that running the ball against the Tigers is the opponents’ best option. Clemson needs momentum defensively heading into Tallahassee next week, so this weekend you’d like to see the Tigers dial up the pressure and keen on tackles for loss, sacks, and turnovers.
Stephone Anthony; photo credit: orangeandwhite.com
- Does Sammy soar: The anticipated 2012 season debut of Watkins is today. He’s done serving his two-game suspension, and will reek havoc as soon as he steps on the field. Nuk, Sammy, Chaone, Martavis… this group’s loaded. Boyd said last week the offense is going to “get ugly” with Watkins back on the field.
- How Reese Hannon performs: The true freshman quarterback for Furman was thrown into the fire last week against Coastal Carolina. With an injury sidelining the Paladins’ pre-season number one signal caller, they didn’t have choice but to burn this red-shirt. Hannon completed 22 of 35 passes for 255 yards and four touchdowns. He might give Clemson’s secondary some trouble, especially considering how the defensive backs are too easily caught out of position.
- Will the second team defense step up: Dabo told the team after “Ball State won the second half,” there can not be a drop off in effort or performance when the number ones are taken out. Guys like Vic Beasley, D.J. Reader, Spencer Shuey, Corico Wright, Quandon Christian, and Rashard Hall have got to generate some three and outs and provide defensive consistency rather than a defensive breakdown.
- Who makes an argument for increased playing time: Last week, young guys like Ryan Norton, Charone Peake, and Bradley Pinion all made cases they should be seeing the field when an opponent like Florida State knocks on the door. This week, against Furman, guys will have a similar opportunity.
- Will they play: On the injury report, starting right tackle Gifford Timothy is ready to go. How much we see of him will be determined. Co-starting left guard David Beasley, starting linebacker Jonathan Willard, and running back D.J. Howard are all listed as questionable.