Ball St. vs Clemson Prediction


by - Senior Writer -
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CLEMSON – Week one is in the books, and the Tigers finally get to play a home game.

The Tigers have played five consecutive games away from the friendly confines of Clemson Memorial Stadium and Death Valley, starting with the two away games (N.C. State, SCAR) at the end of last season, the ACC Championship Game, the bowl game and last week’s season opener against Auburn in the Georgia Dome.

Like the fans, the Tigers are ready for a little home cooking.

This week’s opponent is Ball St., a program that has achieved a measure of offensive success under head coach Pete Lembo, but struggled mightily on defense a year ago (sound familiar Tiger fans?).

Clemson head coach Dabo SwinneyDabo Swinney
Head Coach
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has already said that he expects Ball St. to move the football and make big plays on Saturday, and the same can definitely be said for Clemson’s offense. Will it be a shootout? Can Clemson gain the upper hand early and make sure the outcome is never in doubt?

BALL ST. AT NO 12 Clemson University

WHEN BALL ST. HAS THE BALL

I watched Pete Lembo’s offense when he was at Elon and I was covering Wofford, and I always came away impressed with the pace of his offense and how his teams move the ball. Here is the scary thing for Clemson fans – his offense will do a lot of different things, and will spread the ball around to the different playmakers. And just when you think the quarterback isn’t a threat, he can sneak out on a read-option play and go for the big play. Quarterback Keith Wenning is no stranger to the big stage and big stadiums – he engineered a season-opening win over Indiana at Lucas Oil Stadium last season, and he made starts at Oklahoma and South Florida last season. He is complemented by running back Jahwan Edwards, who rushed for nearly 800 yards as a freshman and then erupted for a career-high 200 yards and three touchdowns last week. The key for Clemson will be the linebackers and defensive linemen staying at home and not falling for the misdirection. This will be a big test for Clemson’s linebackers, which didn’t have a stellar game last week against Auburn. It isn’t hard to envision a scenario where Ball St. puts three or four big drives together and holds the ball for large amounts of time – a la Wofford last season. However, I like how the defense responded against Auburn last week, and got better as the game progressed. This one will be on the linebackers and defensive line.

ADVANTAGE – SLIGHT TO CLEMSON

WHEN CLEMSON HAS THE BALL

This comes down to one thing – turnovers. If Clemson can avoid the turnover bug, they shouldn’t have a lot of problems with the Cardinal defense. Ball St. was decent on defense last week against Eastern Michigan, but still gave up 180 yards on the ground. Eastern Michigan doesn’t have an Andre EllingtonAndre Ellington
RS Sr. Running Back
#23 5-10, 195
Moncks Corner, SC

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, and it isn’t too far out of the realm of possibility to see Ellington have another big day. Hopefully Clemson can get up early and Ellington can watch a good portion of the game from the sidelines. The Cardinals also have two new safeties in the secondary, a secondary that must contend with Clemson’s speed. Last week, Auburn played a lot of “Tampa 2” defense, with the safeties playing to prevent the deep ball. Look for Ball St. to take that and try and accomplish the same thing. That sets up a variety of screens and runs by Ellington into the second level, so pick your poison. But let’s be honest, as long as Clemson protects the football and Tajh BoydTajh Boyd
RS Jr. Quarterback
#10 6-1, 225
Hampton, VA

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keeps his helmet on, the Tigers should have plenty of opportunities to score points.

ADVANTAGE – CLEMSON

SPECIAL TEAMS

How comfortable are you when Chandler CatanzaroChandler Catanzaro
RS Jr. Punter / Kicker
#39 6-2, 195
Greenville, SC

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lines up for a field goal? You should be very comfortable. The former walk-on [it’s hard to believe no one offered him a scholarship coming out of Christ Church] hit on all four of his field goal attempts last week, and has become a dangerous weapon for the Tigers. Spencer BentonSpencer Benton
RS Sr. Punter / Kicker
#13 6-1, 195
Myrtle Beach, SC

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was solid as the punter last week, but head coach Dabo Swinney said that freshman Bradley PinionBradley Pinion
Fr. Punter
#92 6-6, 230
Concord, NC

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could also see some action. The return game was almost non-existent last week, thanks to the new kickoff rules. The Cardinals have two seniors in the kicking game, and both are solid. Steven Scott was 15-for-20 on his field goal attempts last season, while Scott Kovanda
averaged 43 yards per punt a season ago.

ADVANTAGE – CLEMSON

WHAT WILL HAPPEN
The smart money says that Clemson will move the ball early and often, jump out to a big lead and put the game on cruise control after halftime. However, some of the problems that hurt Clemson a year ago were evident again last week – busted coverages, linebackers run out of plays, poor angles – even though the defense looked better as the game went along. But Lembo’s offense is just the type that has given Clemson fits over the past couple of seasons, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Cardinals put some drives together and score, making this more of a contest than Clemson fans would like. Look for the Cardinals to hang around for a half, and then Clemson start to use the running game to pull away in the third quarter and getting some much-needed work for some younger guys in the fourth quarter.

FINAL SCORE
CLEMSON 47 BALL ST. 20



GUEST PREDICTIONS

Mickey Plyler - 6AM-9M on WCCP 104.9FM EST - 44-21 Clemson
Dan Scott - Charter TV on Wed at 9:00pm EST - 52-21 Clemson
El Swann - TigerNet Talk - 49-10 Clemson
Pigskin Prophet - 48-23 Clemson

PREDICTION TRACKER

GameActualDavid HoodMickey PlylerDan ScottEl SwannPigskin Prophet
Auburn26-19 CU30-23 CU31-17 CU30-21 CU27-14 CU27-12 CU
Points - 31111

* Points: 3 pts for best prediction of the week, 1pt for picking the correct winner

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