Clemson vs Wofford Prediction


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Watson's 188.7 passing efficiency led the nation last season among players with at least 125 passes. <span style=(Joshua S. Kelly / USAT)">
Watson's 188.7 passing efficiency led the nation last season among players with at least 125 passes. (Joshua S. Kelly / USAT)

I get it. You go through this week thinking the opener would never get here, but the Tigers officially get the 2015 season underway Saturday afternoon in Death Valley. The weather forecast calls for warm temps, cloud cover and a chance of rain but not even a torrential downpour could dampen the fans’ enthusiasm.

The Tigers host Wofford for the first time since the 2011 season. Clemson is 29-0 against Football Championship Subdivisions since 1982, but in 2011 the Terriers led 24-21 in the second half before falling 35-27. That victory began an 8-0 start to the season, which was the last time Clemson won the Atlantic Coast Conference title. Wofford has finished in the top seven nationally in rushing for the past 17 seasons.

WOFFORD AT CLEMSON

WHAT: Wofford (0-0) at Clemson (0-0)
WHERE: Clemson Memorial Stadium – Clemson, SC (81,500)
WHEN: Saturday, September 5th, 12:30 pm
SPREAD: N//A
TV: ACC NETWORK (Tim Brant, Dave Archer, Roddy Jones)
RADIO: CLEMSON RADIO NETWORK (Don Munson, Rodney Williams, Patrick Sapp)

SERIES HISTORY

Overall Record: Clemson leads 11-3
at Clemson: Clemson leads 7-0
at Wofford: Clemson leads 4-3
First Meeting: Clemson 16-0 in 1896
Last Clemson Win: 35-27 in 2011
Last Wofford Win: 14-13 in 1933

WHY WOFFORD MIGHT WIN

Wofford head coach Mike Ayers said it best earlier this week when he said Wofford would have to play really well and Clemson would have to have several things go wrong if the Terriers were to have a shot. That’s true, but the Terriers haven’t been afraid to play against the big boys in the past and 2011 is still fresh in everyone’s mind. The Terriers return a total of ten starters on offense and eight starters on defense, along with two specialists.

We still don’t know who the quarterback will be when the teams take the field Saturday. Evan Jacks was the starter in the first six games at quarterback and was 30-of-50 passing with three touchdowns and three interceptions, while Michael Weimer started the last five games and was 28-of-54 passing with two touchdowns.

Wofford will rely on tailback Lorenzo Long, who was first in rushing with 930 yards on 163 carries and 15 touchdowns a year ago. Ray Smith added 601 yards on 67 carries with three touchdowns, while Will Irwin was the leading receiver with 289 yards on 19 catches with two touchdowns. Wofford’s option game will be a stiff challenge for Clemson’s younger defenders, especially at defensive tackle and with defensive end Kevin DoddKevin Dodd
RS Jr. Defensive End
#98 6-5, 268
Taylors, SC

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making his first start. The ends will have to “set the edge” and force the quarterback to make quick decisions. If the Terriers can grind out first downs and control the clock, the Tigers could be in for another dogfight.

Wofford is also very experienced and welcomes back 20 starters. On offense, the ten players include offensive linemen Anton Wahrby, T.J. Chamberlin. Bradley Way and DeQuan Miller, running backs Will Gay, Ray Smith, and Lorenzo Long, wide receiver Will Irwin, tight end Zach Muller, and possibly quarterback Evan Jacks. On defense, the eight returners are defensive linemen E.J. Speller and Steven Cornellier, safety Jaleel Green, cornerbacks Brion Anderson and Chris Armfield, plus linebackers Terrance Morris, Drake Michaelson and Dylan Young. In addition kicker David Marvin and punter Brian Sanders return. Marvin was 5-of-6 on field goals and 27-of-30 on PATs to finish second on the team with 42 points in 2015.

Clemson will also start a true freshman at left tackle in Mitch HyattMitch Hyatt
Fr. Offensive Line
#75 6-6, 285
Sugar Hill, GA

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. If he does he will be the first true freshman to start the first game of the season at left tackle since 1944 when Phil Prince started the opener against Presbyterian. Since 1946, only one true freshman has started on the offensive line over the course of the season. That was Barry RichardsonBarry Richardson
Offensive Tackle (2004 - 2007)
#79 6-7, 330
Mt. Pleasant, SC

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in 2004, who did not start the opener, but started seven of the 11 games that year. Can the Terriers’ experienced defenders take advantage?

WHY CLEMSON MIGHT WIN

Clemson is a perfect 29-0 against Football Championship Subdivision teams. The Division was formed prior to the 1978 season. Southern Conference schools became I-AA in 1982. Clemson has outscored Football Championship Sub-Division teams by a 1146-205 margin, an average victory of 39-7. Clemson has won 28 of the 29 games by at least double digits. The only exception came when Clemson defeated Wofford 35-27 in that 2011 game, and Wofford’s 27 points are the most by an FCS school against Clemson.

The Tigers also have the return of quarterback Deshaun WatsonDeshaun Watson
So. Quarterback
#4 6-2, 207
Gainesville, GA

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. Watson played in eight games last year for the Tigers, five as a starter (4-1). The native of Gainesville, Ga. completed 93-137 passes for 1,466 yards and 14 touchdowns with just two interceptions. His 10.7 yards per attempt and 188.7 passing efficiency led the nation among players with at least 125 passes. His health will be a big concern this season but the returns during fall camp were encouraging. When Watson is on, the Tigers are hard to stop.

Also, Watson isn’t a one-man show. He has talented sophomore running back Wayne GallmanWayne Gallman
RS So. Running Back
#9 6-1, 210
Loganville, GA

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(769 yards last season) to help, and the running back rotation is bolstered by the return of Zac BrooksZac Brooks
Running Back (2012 - 2015)
#24 6-0, 200
Jonesboro, AR

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from injury. Add in C.J. DavidsonC.J. Davidson
RS Sr. Running Back
#21 5-10, 202
Clemson, SC

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, Tyshon DyeTyshon Dye
RS So. Running Back
#22 5-11, 213
Elberton, GA

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and C.J. FullerC.J. Fuller
RS Fr. Running Back
#27 5-9, 211
Easley, SC

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and the Tigers have plenty of options to run the football.

If that isn’t enough, Watson has several targets in Artavis ScottArtavis Scott
So. Wide Receiver
#3 5-10, 191
Oldsmar, FL

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, Mike WilliamsMike Williams
Jr. Wide Receiver
#7 6-4, 213
Vance, SC

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and Charone PeakeCharone Peake
Gr. Wide Receiver
#19 6-2, 214
Moore, SC

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. The three starters are joined by Trevion ThompsonTrevion Thompson
RS Fr. Wide Receiver
#1 6-2, 193
Durham, NC

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, Germone HopperGermone Hopper
RS Jr. Wide Receiver
#5 5-11, 175
Charlotte, NC

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, Ray-Ray McCloudRay-Ray McCloud
Fr. Wide Receiver
#34 5-9, 181
Land O' Lakes, FL

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, Hunter RenfrowHunter Renfrow
RS Fr. Wide Receiver
#13 5-10, 176
Myrtle Beach, SC

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and Deon CainDeon Cain
Fr. Wide Receiver
#8 6-1, 197
Tampa, FL

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. Watson will have options throughout the contest. Last year, the tight end position didn’t come into play in the passing game, but Jordan LeggettJordan Leggett
Jr. Tight End
#16 6-5, 252
Navarre, FL

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looks (again) like he has turned the corner, while Milan RichardMilan Richard
RS Fr. Tight End
#80 6-2, 248
Savannah, GA

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, Cannon SmithCannon Smith
RS Fr. Tight End
#84 6-4, 264
Columbia, SC

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and Jay-Jay McCullough all looked poised to contribute. Keep an eye out for freshman Garrett WilliamsGarrett Williams
Fr. Tight End
#44 6-4, 236
Orlando, FL

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, who might play more than people think.

On defense, defensive end Shaq LawsonShaq Lawson
Jr. Defensive End
#90 6-3, 272
Central, SC

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finally gets his chance to be a starter. He has been behind consensus All-American Vic BeasleyVic Beasley
Defensive End (2010 - 2014)
#3 6-2, 236
Adairsville, GA

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each of the last two years. Beasley was the No. 8 selection of the 2015 NFL draft by the Atlanta Falcons, and he started 12 of the games and played 557 snaps, while Lawson started just once and played 295 snaps. Despite the difference in playing time, Lawson actually had more tackles than Beasley (44-37). Lawson averaged a tackle for every 6.7 plays, while Beasley averaged one every 15.05 plays.

WHAT WILL HAPPEN

This Clemson team is a work in progress in many ways, and Saturday will be a chance for a lot of the fresh faces to work out the kinks. Don’t be shocked if Wofford hangs around longer than Clemson fans would feel comfortable seeing, but the truth is that the Terriers just won’t be a match for Watson and company. The Clemson defense might actually be better at defensive end versus the run, so the Terriers might have to focus on the inside run game. That will give young players like Christian WilkinsChristian Wilkins
Fr. Defensive Tackle
#42 6-5, 299
Longmeadow, MA

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and Scott PaganoScott Pagano
RS So. Defensive Tackle
#56 6-3, 290
Honolulu, HI

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an opportunity to show the coaches they deserve to play. Through the air? Wofford will hit big plays only if the defenders get too far out of position. The Tigers will have a nice lead at the half, stomp on the accelerator in the third and cruise to the win.

FINAL SCORE: CLEMSON 41, WOFFORD 13


GUEST PREDICTIONS
Mickey Plyler - 6AM-9AM EST on WCCP 105.5FM - 41-17 Clemson


Tony Crumpton - TigerNet's Associate Editor - 52-13 Clemson


Nikki Steele - TigerNet Writer - 42-17 Clemson


Lawton Swann - Clemson Sports Talk / TigerNet Talk - 47-13 Clemson


Pigskin Prophet - 47-13 Clemson

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