Dan Scott: Clemson - UNC Prediction


by - Correspondent -
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OFFENSE

The hubbub created by quarterback Charlie Whitehurst's record-setting
performance at Duke a week ago hasn't completely died down. Yet it's time to
tee it up again. Whitehurst, the redshirt freshman, lit a fire in Clemson's
passing game with a 420-yard, four touchdown performance vs. the Blue Devils.
But it is the running game that comes into focus this week. Tiger backs have
been held in check lately, but UNC gives up and average of 235 yards per game
on the ground. With Tye Hill expected to see more playing time today, don't
be surprised to see Clemson use his speed to try and exploit the Tar Heel
front seven. Meanwhile, UNC's rushing attack barely accounts for 100 yards
per game. And since C.J. Stephens took over for the injured Darian Durant at
quarterback, the passing game has slowed, too. Sam Aiken remains a dangerous
weapon at receiver.

ADVANTAGE - Clemson


DEFENSE

Clemson's run defense, which has been shot full of holes in recent weeks, may
get a bit of a break today with UNC's aforementioned problems running the
ball. If they can shut the run down completely, Tiger defenders can make life
miserable for Stephens. The Tar Heels not only allow 235 yards per game on
the ground, the give up another 226 through the air. Coaches love
consistency, but not like this.

ADVANTAGE - Clemson


SPECIAL TEAMS

Clemson punter Wynn Kopp made it through another game without a drop or a
block, and even averaged 37 yards per kick last week against Duke. Not great,
but anything's an improvement. Aaron Hunt's steady reliability (11-of-14) is
the reason he made the semifinal list for the Groza Award. North Carolina
trails its opponents in every single special teams stat except for field
goals made (7-9 to 4-13).

ADVANTAGE - Clemson


COACHING

Tommy Bowden's simplified game plan against Duke made you wonder why the
Tigers were trying to be more difficult in the first place. John Bunting is
praying for this season to end so he can begin work on 2003.

ADVANTAGE - Even


BOTTOM LINE

Even though the numbers say Clemson should win handily, there are other
numbers to consider - such as UNC winning four of the last six between the
teams. The Tigers take it, but closer than some think.


THE PICK

Clemson 31, UNC 17


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