Last week, the Miami Hurricanes took down the Virginia Tech Hokies 30-20 to avoid a three-game losing streak after starting the season 3-0. By taking down the Hokies, the Hurricanes also picked up their first win in conference play, which is big.
Coming into this season, Miami knew that they would have to travel to Florida State to play a big game, and also host a big game against the Clemson Tigers. Most people would agree that going 50% on those two games would be ideal for the ‘Canes. Well, Miami already dropped the first one, so they get the second crack at the duo on Saturday when Clemson visits Miami.
Clemson Tigers (6-0, 3-0 ACC) vs. Miami Hurricanes (4-2, 1-1 ACC)
Saturday, October 24, 12:00 PM EST, ABC
Sun Life Stadium, Miami Gardens, Florida
Line: Clemson -7.5
Passing Offense vs. Clemson
The passing attack for the ‘Canes obviously revolves around Brad Kaaya. The sophomore quarterback gets his first crack at the Tigers and he’ll be going toe-to-toe with Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson. Kaaya seems to be on a mission to play Florida State again in the ACC championship game, but he’ll have to perform well against a really good Clemson defense.
The Clemson passing defense is one of the best passing defenses in the country. The Tigers have only allowed 1005 passing yards through six games, that placed them tied for 6th with Ohio State and Pittsburgh. Clemson is led by a couple of big, talented safeties. Jayron Kearse and T.J. Green are the dudes roaming the back for the Tigers, while Mackensie Alexander and Cordrea Tankersley are in charge of the outsides.
Miami is going to look for Rashawn Scott and Stacy Coley, but they’ll also need some production from their tight end position. Christopher Herndon and Standish Dobard are going to have to play a role in this one for Miami to be successful. If you try and force feed the two receivers, bad things could happen.
Running Offense vs. Clemson
While Clemson’s passing defense has been great in 2015, their ability to stop the run has been a key to their early season success. The Tigers are only allowing 114 yards per game on the ground this season, which is 22nd in the country. The two guys Miami needs to worry about the most on the defensive line: Defensive End Shaq Lawson and Kevin Dodd. Lawson and Dodd have combined for 19 tackles for loss already in 2015, and they’re the two guys Miami needs to key in on Saturday.
As for Miami, they need to figure out what to do with the offensive line. Miami coaches tried a bunch of different combinations against Virginia Tech, but nothing seems to be working for the Hurricanes. The cruel reality is that Miami’s offensive line is not very good and it could cost them another game this Saturday.
Passing Defense vs. Clemson
Much like Miami with Kaaya, Clemson has a pretty good quarterback of their own with Deshaun Watson. The sophomore quarterback bursted onto the scene last season with his play, but a torn ACL cut his productive freshman season short. This season, Watson has struggled with interceptions, but he still remains a very dangerous offensive weapon. Watson can hurt you with his arm, and he can hurt you with his legs, too.
The one guy that Watson will be looking for a lot is wide receiver Artavis Scott. Scott leads the Tigers in receptions with 39 and in yards with 443. Another dangerous target for the Tigers is talented wide receiver Deon Cain. Cain was a highly-touted recruit and he’s showing he can do damage in the passing game.
For Miami, Artie Burns will look to continue his awesome play, while Corn Elder will run all over the field for the Hurricanes and make some plays. Deon Bush has had a couple of shaky games recently, but I think he’ll have a big game for the Hurricanes come Saturday. This could be the last chance for the seniors to beat a top team.
Rushing Defense vs. Clemson
The Clemson offense runs through Watson and his playmaking ability, but the Tigers also have a capable running attack led by Wayne Gallman. Gallman has 584 yards on the year, to go along with 5 touchdown runs. Miami’s problems to stop the run have been well documented throughout the years, and this will be another test for the Hurricanes. Miami needs to be able to control the running game and force Watson into obvious throwing downs. If Clemson gets their run game going, it’ll be lights out for the Hurricanes.
Al-Quadin Muhammad and Chad Thomas have played well lately, and even though they’re mostly in charge of getting to the quarterback, they’ll be out there a lot so they’ll play a big role in trying to stop the Clemson defense. Calvin Heurtelou and Trent Harris are also going to play a role in this one.
This game is going to be pretty interesting. I think a couple of things work in Miami’s favor: the early start and the fact that it’s a home game. It’s always a lot easier to adjust to the noon starts when you’re the home team, so that might give Miami an advantage. Getting off to a quick start is crucial for Miami in this one. If they fall behind to Clemson, they’re going to be in trouble and that’s when mistakes are made.
With that being said, I think it’ll be a good effort by the Hurricanes, but the Tigers come away with this one.
Clemson 31, Miami 27
Kaaya’s arm keeps the Hurricanes in this one, but it’s ultimately not enough to beat the Tigers on Saturday. I hope I’m very wrong, I really hope I am.
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