Clemson will head to Winston-Salem on Thursday night to take on the Demon Deacons. The last time the Tigers faced Wake Forest on a Thursday night, Clemson lost on what would be Tommy Bowden's last game as head coach. Clemson has always had a tough time beating Wake and is only 2-8 in Thursday night games. Playing sloppy against a well coached Demon Deacon team could result in a loss.
Clemson's Offense vs. Wake Forest's Defense
Clemson will face a 3-4 defense Thursday night. Clemson hasn't seen 3-4 defenses often and Wake will mix it up dropping as many as 8 defenders into coverage and blitzing at times. Nose tackle Nikita Whitlock will try to create space allowing for the Wake linebackers to put pressure on Tahj Boyd and stop the run. Justin Jackson and Mike Olsen will both be very active at linebackers. Clemson will need to get Andre Ellington rolling likely by calling outside runs. Wake will try to bait Tajh Boyd into making bad decisions in the passing game. If he can be patient and not force passes the Tiger O should do well.
Clemson's Defense vs. Wake Forest's Offense
Wake Forest is known for using many formations and will use a large amount of them on Thursday night. Wake will try to get running back Josh Harris going early by using screens and misdirection plays. The linebackers for Clemson will have to be disciplined and yet aggressive or Harris could have a big game. Spencer Shuey has played well the past few games at linebacker and will need to play well again if the D hopes to be successful.
Quarterback Tanner Price is a 3rd year starter for the Deacs but hasn't been as good as most had expected. If Clemson's secondary doesn't play well, he has the ability to beat Clemson through the air. Xavier Brewer, Brashaud Breeland, and Garry Peters will have a big impact on the outcome of the game. Breeland has been listed as questionable with and abdominal strain and if he is unable to play depth becomes a really, really big issue for an already depleted secondary.
Special teams has not been a strong suit for Wake Forest. They aren't great in any special teams category but Mike Campanaro, who could return from injury, is a solid return man. He actually had a punt return for a touchdown against Clemson last season so Dabo's team will be sure to be well prepared for him. Wake's kicker, Jimmy Newman has only connected on 5 field goals in 9 attempts. Forcing field goals outside of the red zone will be advantageous to Clemson.
Turnovers will be a critical factor in the outcome of the game. Clemson has the advantage in talent but if the turnover margin is plus 2 for Wake it could turn into a devastating loss for Clemson. Thursday night road games are tough for any team but giving the home team turnovers and good field position can create momentum that often is never gotten back.
It is no secret, no matter how good or how bad Wake Forest is they always seem to play Clemson tough. The Demon Deacons nearly stole the ACC Title last year and a loss in Winston-Salem will likely end a chance for Clemson to repeat as conference champs. The Tigers will be prepared but it will be a close hard fought game. Clemson wins 34-24.Back to the Clemson Tigers Newsfeed