Coming off a game that was described as “sloppy” by Dabo Swinney, the Clemson Tigers will face the Miami Hurricanes in a top-10 showdown. This is the second night game in Death Valley for the Tigers in just as many weeks. With a game so highly-anticipated, ESPN’s College Gameday will be coming to town for extended coverage. Both Clemson and Miami are coming in with high expectations that should make for an exciting showdown.
The Hurricanes Are Coming
The Hurricanes are coming in off a big win against their rival Florida State. The win helped the Hurricanes move up to seventh in the latest AP poll. Miami controlled the game from start to finish and left with a score of 52-10. In the win, Miami looked like a complete team. Led by transfer quarterback, D’Eriq King, and offensive coordinator, Rhett Lashlee, the Hurricane offense hasn’t been stopped this season. King has solidified himself as a Heisman candidate with spectacular primetime performances in primetime. Once against Louisville and another against Florida State. Now King and Lashlee will face their biggest test against the staunch defense of Brent Venables. Luckily, Virginia was able to score 23 points and gain 417 total yards. Both uncharacteristically high for a team facing Venables.
Manny Diaz was the defensive coordinator that introduced the world to the “Turnover Chain.” Now he has become the head coach that still prides himself on the turnovers his team produces. In the last two games, the Hurricane defense has forced six turnovers. The three turnovers that were forced against Louisville helped Miami to a two-possession win. That win also shows a fatal flaw that could create problems this coming Saturday. The Hurricane defense allowed 516 total yards of offense with over 38 minutes of possession. Allowing that much yardage requires a lot of turnovers in order to win.
How the Tigers Roar
Even in a win against Virginia, the Clemson offense left plenty to be desired. Trevor Lawrence went 25/38 with 329 passing yards and three touchdowns while rushing for 36 more yards. Travis Etienne added with 187 total yards and two scores in a Heisman worthy performance. The weak point of the Clemson offense was shown in the offensive line. Typically hard to see in the stat sheet, Etienne’s 5.2 yards per carry was low enough to be concerning. While his numbers have been decreasing through the year, the tape shows Etienne having to gain a lot of ground after initial contact. Miami’s defensive front should come with a better showing than Virginia.
Venables’ defenses have become accustomed to stopping teams and giving the ball back to the offense without allowing very many points. When Virginia finished with 23 points and over 400 yards of offense, many defensive concerns were raised. The biggest concern comes from mobile quarterbacks. Of the Cavaliers’ 147 rushing yards, 89 came from the quarterback, Brennan Armstrong. King has shown tremendous skill in running the ball to this point and will look to do so against the Tigers. Other than quarterback runs, the Tigers defense has dominated the line of scrimmage throughout the season. Rushing the passer and stopping the run has been a strength of Venables’ defense for years. Now Miami will be the true test on whether or not this front seven for Clemson can handle big games and big situations.
How The Clemson and Miami Showdown Will Look
By the end of the night on Saturday, the should be plenty of points scored by both teams. The Clemson defense showed that it can be vulnerable by allowing a lot of yards and more points than normal. Lashlee will find ways to use King to confuse the Tigers’ defense early and often. Conversely, the Hurricane defense will do much of the same. While Venables prides his defense on just not giving up points, Diaz’s teams thrive off turnovers. There should be a few turnovers forced by the Hurricanes, but still, points will be scored. In the end, Clemson carries an edge over the Hurricanes with their experience.