Clemson has a chance Saturday night to once again make a big headway towards being a solid program. A victory Saturday night would give the Tigers an opportunity to tell recruits that over the last two years they have defeated FSU and Miami. People ask us all the time what recruits care about most. One thing is you start beating the FSUs and Miamis of the world on national television that gives you instant credibility. Here is what I feel the Tigers must do to win Saturday night.
1) Stop the Run
The Tigers cannot afford to allow the Miami rushing attack to return to form. The Hurricane's offensive line has struggled in recent weeks getting a strong push off the ball. The Tiger run defense has played well over last couple of games. Darrell Blackmon hurt the Tiger's defense on draws last week. Miami will sit in the I-formation and try and run it right at Miami.
2) Force Turnovers
The six turnovers were no question the main reason the Tigers won last week. Berlin only has 4 interceptions coming into this week. Justin Miller is starting to play like the true freshman we saw two years ago. Once again, a struggling Tiger offense will need short field opportunities to score.
3) Consistency on special teams
Special teams have been the most consistent unit for the Tigers this year. There could be heavy winds on Saturday night that impact the kicking game. Obviously the Tigers will kick away from Devin Hester, but the wind could alter that plan. Dean and Chason struggled last week kicking into wind on kickoffs and punts, however if Dean has to kickoff a lot that would be a good sign.
4) No Intimidation
The Orange Bowl has as much history as any stadium Clemson will play in. The Tigers cannot be "aww struck" early in the game and allow Miami to jump out on the scoreboard. Miami still has the attitude of Miami, and the Tigers will need to set the tone early on.
5) Run the Ball
If a third string running back for UNC can rush for 175, Reggie Merriweather and Duane Coleman have to have their best game of the year. This is a homecoming game for Coleman, so the extra motivation should be there. Merriweather facial injuries should not be a factor. For Clemson to win, they must have at least 150 yards rushing or a miracle. Offensive production has to be there in this game.
The Tigers have all the momentum heading into this game, and I do not buy the talk of Miami "being mad" after the loss to UNC. Last year, they lost to Virginia Tech and then came home and lost to a average Tennessee team. Clemson has the ability to pull off the upset, but I pick Miami in a very close back and forth ball game.