Clemson vs. Wake Forest Prediction

by - Senior Writer -
Sammy Watkins ran wild against Wake last season setting a school record 202 yards on 9 catches.

On paper, Clemson’s Homecoming Game versus the Demon Deacons of Wake Forest appears to be a mismatch, but a lack of depth for the Tigers on Saturday could be something to keep your eye on.

The Deacs have yet to establish any offensive continuity and have yet to get any traction in the ground game. The defense has some nice pieces – nose tackle Nikita Whitlock is a playmaker – but lack talent at some spots.

However, Clemson will be tested Saturday by its lack of depth – three offensive linemen are out for this game either because of injury or suspension, the Tigers lost a valuable playmaker on special teams and third down in linebacker Kellen JonesKellen Jones
RS So. Linebacker
#52 6-1, 215
Houston, TX

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, another linebacker is still battling concussion symptoms and the receiving corps – already without Charone PeakeCharone Peake
Jr. Wide Receiver
#19 6-3, 200
Moore, SC

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– will be without Martavis BryantMartavis Bryant
Jr. Wide Receiver
#1 6-5, 200
Calhoun Falls, SC

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for parts of Saturday after he made inappropriate gestures last week at N.C. State.

The Tigers will also be without defensive tackle Carlos WatkinsCarlos Watkins
So. Defensive Tackle
#94 6-3, 300
Mooresboro, NC

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, who was injured in a wreck last weekend and will be attending his cousin’s funeral. Add it all together, and there are a lot of players that have been key components on Clemson’s depth chart that will be missing this weekend.

Will it make a difference?

WHAT: Wake Forest (2-2) at No. 3 Clemson (3-0)
WHERE: Memorial Stadium (85,000) - Clemson, S.C.
WHEN: Saturday, Sept. 28, 3:30 p.m.
SPREAD: Clemson -28


The player to watch out for is wide receiver Michael Campanaro, who seems like he has been at Wake Forest since the mid-80’s. I talked to Campanaro at the ACC Kickoff back in July, and he said that the Clemson game was the one that they have had circled since Clemson embarrassed them at home last season. He has 25 catches for 354 yards and five touchdowns, and he’s averaging 14.2 yards per catch with a long of 66 yards. Quarterback Tanner Price has completed 55.5% of his passes for 852 yards, five touchdowns and two interceptions. However, the Wake Forest running game has yet to get off the ground as the Deacons have only rushed for 487 yards and four scores over four games. Josh Harris is the leading rusher with an average of 37.8 yards per game. Last season in Winston-Salem, the Tigers got ahead early and made the Deacs one-dimensional and were able to get consistent pressure on Price. That will be the M.O. in this one as well. One thing to watch out for is the continued emergence of freshman defensive end Shaq LawsonShaq Lawson
Fr. Defensive End
#90 6-4, 260
Central, SC

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– he told me last week he wants to be a starter – and he played like it with three tackles for loss against N.C. State. Wake Forest also has two freshmen starting on the offensive line - at center and left guard – and Price has faced considerable pressure through the first four games, even from Army last week. If the Deacs can’t establish a running game and keep Clemson’s defense honest, this could be a long afternoon for an offense that has already had a few of those days.



Whitlock will be one of the smaller defensive players on the field Saturday - he is listed at a generous 5-11 and 250 pounds – but don’t let his size fool you. He is a wrecking ball and has a motor that never quits. It seems like he is always around the football. Whitlock already has 30 tackles and nine tackles for loss this season, impressive figures considering most nose tackles are used to occupy blockers so the linebackers can make plays. The Tigers will also be throwing two new starters out on the offensive line this week – Kalon DavisKalon Davis
RS Jr. Offensive Guard
#67 6-5, 330
Chester, SC

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will start at left guard and Shaq AnthonyShaq Anthony
RS So. Offensive Tackle
#76 6-3, 265
Williamston, SC

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will start at right tackle – and both are better pass blockers than run blockers. Can the Tigers establish the running game, or will the Tigers be forced to rely once again on the arm of quarterback Tajh BoydTajh Boyd
RS Sr. Quarterback
#10 6-1, 225
Hampton, VA

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? Personally, I felt like there were too many screens called last week against N.C. State and the week before against S.C. State – the screen is no longer a surprise to defenses and you have to depend on a player wading through several tacklers and get on-point blocking to make a gain. I would love to see the screens replaced by straight-ahead running, because the best way to get an offensive linemen into the flow of the game is to let him run over someone. Rod McDowell is averaging 5.5 yards per carry, and it’s time he and Zac BrooksZac Brooks
So. Running Back
#24 6-1, 185
Jonesboro, AR

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are turned loose on someone. Establishing the running game early will also take the pressure off of Boyd and the receivers to make all of the plays. However, Clemson has had to use the pass to set up the run recently, and that won’t change Saturday. It might take a few throws downfield to Sammy WatkinsSammy Watkins
Jr. Wide Receiver
#2 6-1, 205
Fort Myers, FL

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and Mike WilliamsMike Williams
Fr. Wide Receiver
#7 6-5, 205
Vance, SC

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and getting the tight ends loose underneath to truly open the running game. And how can you tell if Boyd is going to be successful on a given day? Watch and see if he hits his checkdowns early in the game – if he does that then Clemson’s offense hums right along. Wake might present somewhat of a defensive challenge, but the Tigers should be able to score points.



Wake Forsest punter Alexander Kinal is averaging 39.9 yard per punt, and kicker Chad Hedlund has connected on 5-of-8 field goal attempts with a long of 38 yards. He has also missed from 31 and 25 yards, so he is not a lock from short distances. The good news for Clemson is that Hedlund also had just three touchbacks in 18 attempts. Can this be the week that Germone HopperGermone Hopper
RS Fr. Wide Receiver
#5 6-0, 170
Charlotte, NC

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breaks loose a long return, something the Tigers have been lacking for almost two seasons? Clemson punter and kickoff specialist Bradley PinionBradley Pinion
So. Punter
#92 6-5, 230
Concord, NC

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has been battling soreness in his knee, but word on the street is he benefitted from the extra days of rest and should be ready to go Saturday. Clemson knows what they have in kicker Chandler CatanzaroChandler Catanzaro
Gr. Punter / Kicker
#39 6-2, 195
Greenville, SC

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, who is as consistent as any kicker in Clemson history. He also became Clemson’s all-time scoring leader last week.



Because of two new starters on the line and the absence of Bryant, the Tigers may start a little slow on offense. But, like last week against N.C. State, the defense will hold Wake in check until Boyd and company get rolling. The Demon Deacons have some nice pieces – Campanaro and Whitlock are ballers – but lack the kind of playmakers across the board and the depth that will be needed to stop Clemson. Wake’s gameplan should be to try and establish the run with Harris – and the read option with Price – and keep the ball away from Boyd and the Clemson offense. That might work for a while, but eventually things will turn and the Tigers’ talent will begin to show. Freshman receiver Mike Williams has shown glimpses of what he will be, and maybe Saturday he has a breakout game. This one will begin to have separation by the half, and that separation will continue into the third and fourth quarters.

Mickey Plyler - 6-9AM on WCCP 104.9FM EST - 41-17 Clemson

Nikki Steele - TigerNet Writer - 38-13 Clemson

Tony Crumpton - TigerNet's Associate Editor - 41-14 Clemson

Lawton Swann - Clemson Sports Talk / TigerNet Talk - 52-13 Clemson

Pigskin Prophet - 45-17 Clemson

Butt-head - Friend of the Prophet who said anyone could do this - 45-17 Clemson

GameActualDavid HoodMickey PlylerTony CrumptonNikki SteeleLawton SwannPigskin ProphetButt-Head
Georgia38-35 CU37-34 CU31-28 CU31-28 CU34-31 CU37-31 CU39-34 CU48-31CU
SC State52-13 CU55-13 CU56-10 CU63-17 CU56-16 CU57-10 CU60-13 CU63-21 CU
NC State26-14 CU37-13 CU41-20 CU63-17 CU37-17 CU45-20 CU-34-17 CU
Points - 7333325

* Points: 3 pts for best prediction of the week (tiebreaker is Clemson score), 1pt for picking the correct winner

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