Scouting Virginia Tech: how the Tigers win...

Stop the run, pressure the quarterback - just like last year

Clemson linebacker Quandon Christian (34) closes in on Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas (3)

Clemson linebacker Quandon Christian (34) closes in on Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas (3)

How Clemson Wins...

1. Do it again, part 1: Nobody recently has mistreated the Hokies like the Tigers did last season, winning twice by a combined score of 64-13, including a 38-10 thumping of Frank Beamer's third-ranked team in the ACC Championship Game. How did the Tigers do it? In both cases, with defense. In the teams' regular-season meeting at Blacksburg, the Tigers kept the heat on quarterback Logan Thomas, disrupted, forced mistakes and eventually got the Virginia Tech offense out of sync, even with David Wilson rushing for 123 yards. Clemson again needs a solid defensive effort to complement its explosive offense.

2. Do it again, part 2: In the ACC Championship Game, the Tigers' defense was again at the forefront, this time focused on taking away the run. The Hokies managed just 56 yards on 29 rushing attempts, and the Tigers' helped themselves by forcing an early turnover with their pass rush. Clemson's defense spent a productive evening in Virginia Tech's backfield, with seven tackles for loss, and with the Hokies' offense rendered one-dimensional, Thomas completed just half of his 44 passes and was intercepted twice.

3. Keep converting: So far this season, the teams' red-zone performance has been a wash - Clemson and Virginia Tech rank 1-2 in the ACC in both red zone offense and red zone defense. Clemson has enjoyed a huge advantage in its third and fourth-down efficiency, however. The Tigers lead the ACC with a 54 percent conversion rate, while the Virginia Tech defense has had a middle-of-the-pack performance (35 percent) in stopping teams on third down. On fourth down, Clemson leads the league with six-of-seven conversions. The Hokies rank 10th with 2-of-9.

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