Brown Bags, Brown Water and Brown Pants
It seems we go through this process every year. Clemson gets off to a sluggish start. People question whether this is the year the Orange Camelot crumbles. Dabo and gang get the best out of the players then suddenly folks are talking about National Title #4. Rinse and repeat. Well, I’ll take a rinse and repeat thank you very much. I’m a lot happier chewing over an ugly win than figuring out a loss. Week 4 of the 2020 season is one of two games a lot of talking heads (so called experts) have circled on the schedule for Clemson as they welcome the Miami Hurricanes to Death Valley. There’s a new King in town down in South Beach and with that comes The U swagger. It’s a primetime affair in Tigertown so the lights will be bright. Will Miami break out the turnover chain, with all of its gaudiness and gleam? Or, will the Tigers rise up and show The U who the REAL King is?
LeBron James was the king when he was the star of the NBA’s Miami Heat. Since he left, South Beach has been looking for someone to take the crown. Well, apparently Houston’s trash is Miami’s treasure in transfer QB D’Eriq King. Much ballyhooed for the Cougars he has even more fanfare with the Hurricanes. His numbers through three games are impressive. He’s 63-94 passing with 736 yards with 6 TDs and zero INTs. Add in his 157 yards rushing with another TD and it looks that much better. The SMALLEST offensive lineman for the Canes is Center Corey Gaynor at 6’4” 300 lbs. They’ve protected King and opened big holes for RB Cam’Ron Harris who has 375 yards rushing (over 7 yards a carry) with 7 TDs. King is very socialistic in his distribution of the football. Michael Harley, Brevin Jordan, Mark Pope, and Jaylan Knighton have all touched the ball quite a bit. The BIGGEST difference this season for Miami has been new offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee who LOVES to use the Tight End so keep that in mind. He’s an aggressive play caller and will take whatever you give him. How does Clemson defend this behemoth? Let’s start with the fact that Virginia’s offensive line is better than Miami’s. Miami has the size but not the experience. Big fella Tyler Davis will be back for the Tigers which will help put pressure on King. That should allow the linebackers to play more aggressively keeping in mind one linebacker will be assigned to keep an eye on King. My biggest concern is the Tigers secondary. Too many times, they’ve looked confused and out of place. Sure, we did force turnovers and bottle Virginia more often than not but let’s also admit a better QB makes Clemson pay for those mishaps. Pressure on King, turnovers, 3rd down conversions and red zone efficiency are the keys here. Advantage Miami by a whisker.
I find it hilarious when people gasp and go sideways when Trevor Lawrence doesn’t complete a pass. Calm down y’all. The big fella is human. Plus, several of those incompletions were drops. Also, it wasn’t all that long ago when Clemson fans just wanted a QB to be half as good as Trevor is. Trevor can’t pass it AND catch it for crying out loud. At one point Saturday night, he looked to the sideline imploring the coaches to get the plays in quicker. Frankly, I think Coach Elliott was too slow getting in his calls which is a big reason why the Tiger offense never seemed to get into high gear. In addition, we gave up on the run way too much. According to my count, the Tigers only ran around 63 plays offensively. That’s way too low. We need to see that number in the 80s. These areas will need to be remedied because the Miami defense is WAY faster than Virginia’s. The difference is, the Hurricanes are still the Hurricanes so expect missed assignments, poor tackling and penalties. It’s imperative that Clemson take full advantage of these errors. For example, turning a 10 yard out pattern into a 50 yard touchdown. Miami’s defensive ends are both very tall but a tick on the small size. Clemson’s OLine only allowed 1 sack vs Virginia so if the big fellas up front can keep Trevor Lawrence up right then the Tigers should light up the scoreboard. The Canes are giving up around 150 yards on the ground this season so I’d like to see the Tigers lean on that Miami DLine a good bit in the first half in an effort to tire them out come the 4th quarter. If Clemson can win the time of possession battle, then that does two things. It keeps the Miami offense on the sideline and it keeps Clemson in rhythm offensively. But, again, the key is touchdowns versus field goals. Advantage Clemson.
Special teams for both squads are exceptional. B.T. Potter has been perfect on field goals and PATs. Will Spiers avg per kick doesn’t impress but you have to take into consideration how effective those kicks were. The Hurricanes have FIU transfer Jose Borregales (say that three times really fast) at placekicker and he’s been perfect going 7-7. The Canes have a punter who’s a thunder from down under in Louis Hedley. He’s a 25 year old full grown man at 6’4” and 215 pounds. He has more tattoos than an entire motorcycle gang combined. His swagger also fits the Miami mold perfectly. He’s actually a weapon for the Canes in changing field position with a 44 yard per punt avg. Both teams will boom kickoffs into the end zone so the key to this area will be punt returns. Not sure either team will gain an advantage here so I’m calling it a push.
Miami has a slender 6-5 advantage versus Clemson all-time. The Canes are 2-0 in Death Valley (2005 and 2010) but the Tigers have won the last two matchups in blow out fashion. Canes fans are all over the phone lines and social media screaming WE’RE BACK. If Miami is back, this game could be one for the ages. If all of this noise is a bunch of hot air then Clemson will expose them as a bunch of blow hards. Also, how many times does the whole “game of the century” never live up to the billing? Personally, I think Virginia exposed Clemson last Saturday so I see this game coming down to the last possession. Add to it, the Canes have had two weeks to prepare for Clemson. The weather is also something I’m keeping my eye on. Dabo might not care but I do cause it can make a difference. A wet surface and a wet football can change play calling and can lead to turnovers. Miami is tied with Alabama for most wins over a #1 ranked team with 9 but the Canes haven’t accomplished this feat since 2002 when they knocked off bitter rivals Florida State. Clemson has been in this spot a lot over the last 5 years and Miami hasn’t. That's the difference in the end. Vegas has the line at 14 (yes, really) and the UNDER sits at 63. The line is too much and the under is way out of bounds…no pun intended. Bring your brown bags, your brown water and possibly your brown pants. Clemson wins a doozy 38-35.