Breakdown: Tigers get offense kick-started, contain Deacs

Clemson's Sammy Watkins runs after a catch during the second quarter at Carter Finley Stadium in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Photo by Ken Ruinard

Clemson's Sammy Watkins runs after a catch during the second quarter at Carter Finley Stadium in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Breaking down this week's matchup with a few predictions...

The Good

Wake Forest’s offensive production starts – and so far, ends – with senior wide receiver Michael Campanaro.

Campanaro (5.1) joins Clemson’s Sammy Watkins (6.1) among the NCAA active leaders in catches per game – and his production has only shot up this season.

He accounts for 38 percent of Wake Forest’s receptions (Watkins makes up 24 percent of Clemson’s) with 25 for 354 yards and two touchdowns. He is sixth in the ACC in all-purpose yards a game (128).

The early returns defensively have been positive for the Deacs.

They rank 28th in total defense (311.5) and eighth-best in passing ‘D’ (143.3). Junior cornerback Kevin Johnson’s pair of interceptions lead a Wake Forest secondary with five total.

The 3-4 scheme is anchored by senior noseguard Nikita Whitlock. He leads the ACC in tackles for loss (8) with three sacks.

The Bad

There’s not enough space here for it all, but it’s mostly on the offense, which hasn’t been good in a long time in Winston-Salem.

Tiger 'D' confident, trusting each other

None

After a pedestrian initial four-game slate, the Demon Deacons sit in 107th in total offense (339.5) and 94th in scoring ‘O’ (21.3).

The scoring problems center in struggles in the red zone. Wake Forest is No. 120 in red zone touchdown percentage (30.8) with four touchdowns (and only eight scores total) in 13 trips.

Part of the problem is a makeshift o-line that’s had injury issues the last two seasons. Also, Tanner Price is a fourth-year starting QB, but he hasn’t totaled better than a 60 completion percentage per season and is only hitting 55.5 per so far this one.

Wake’s top-three rushers are all averaging sub-3.5 yards a carry, but in last week’s win over Army, senior running back Josh Harris ran for 96 yards and two touchdowns.

On the other side of the ball, Wake Forest is surrendering 4.2 yards per carry (70th nationally) and 168.3 yards a game (72nd).

The Skinny

Clemson is around a four-touchdown favorite, and it’s every bit a game the Tigers can name their score.

As a 16-point underdog two years ago, the Deacs were oh-so-close to exorcising some Death Valley demons in a 31-28 loss. That younger ’11 Tigers squad is all grown up and eyeing a bigger prize, occupying a spot in the top-four in both polls.

Clemson’s offense gets on track and the defense feeds off the energy to easily improve to 18-0 all-time as a home double-digit favorite under Swinney.

Three Predictions & a Pick

1. Rod McDowell tops 100 rushing yards and also reaches the endzone for the first time this season.

2. The Clemson defense posts a seventh-straight game with at least three sacks.

3. Wake Forest is held under 125 rushing yards (would be 95th in the nation now) for a ninth-straight game against a BCS opponent.

Final Score: Clemson 48-16

(3-0 overall; 2-1 ATS)

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Comments » 1

putter2 writes:

We need to pressure more and blitz, blitz, blitz. We let NC State stay in the game by not blitzing. Offense needs to run plays that expose Wake's weaknesses and not just call plays. Tajh needs to roll away from rush not into it and step up in pocket more.

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