Dan Scott: Clemson - Duke Prediction
Last year Roscoe Crosby scored twice on deep balls that covered 58 and 47 yards.
Can you do more with less? Tommy Bowden hopes so. After watching his offense
grind to a halt in the last two weeks, Clemson's head coach decided to
simplify his offensive game plan in hopes that the offense will better
execute if there is less to think about. But even with the simplification,
has Clemson decided what kind of team it wants to be? A running team? A
passing team? Lately the Tigers have been neither. Meanwhile, Duke's offense
has shown signs of life under head coach Carl Franks. Alex Wade is fourth in
the Atlantic Coast Conference in rushing yardage per game (86.1), and
quarterback Adam Smith is throwing for nearly 200 yards per game and has a
better touchdown-to-interception ratio (7-4) than Clemson's Willie Simmons
(6-7). The Blue Devils lead the ACC in time of possession (32:27) and are the
second-least penalized team in the ACC (45.7)
ADVANTAGE - Duke
Clemson has given up over 600 yards rushing in the past two games combined,
so expect Duke to attack the Tigers' front four. Fortunately, Clemson's
defensive backs have been outstanding of late, especially senior Brian Mance
and true freshman Justin Miller. The Tigers are second in the ACC and 23rd in
the nation in total defense (323.1). Duke gives up 366.6 yards per game,
241.6 of it through the air. Does Willie Simmons (or Charlie Whitehurst?)
finally snap out of his slump?
ADVANTAGE - Clemson
In Duke, Clemson finds a team over which it holds a statistical advantage in
every kicking category save two. The Tigers lead in punt return yardage
(10.7-6.0), kick return yardage (22.7-17.2), kick coverage (22.6-24.1) and
field goals (Clemson 9-12, Duke 13-22). The Blue Devils hold the advantage in
punt return yardage allowed (10.3-10.4) and - no surprise here - punting
average (38.3, 32.3 net to 35.6, 29.3).
ADVANTAGE - Clemson
Tommy Bowden should win this category hands down, but Duke's Carl Franks
suddenly has been getting quite a bit of favorable press nationally because
of the Blue Devils' improvement. Plus, Bowden will find himself under the
microscope more and more until the Tigers begin to win consistently, and that
won't happen until his offense finds itself.
ADVANTAGE - Even
Clemson has to win this game. No other choice. If it doesn't, look out.
Clemson 28, Duke 20