Dan Scott Prediction: Clemson - Wake Forest


by - Correspondent -
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Who Has The Advantage?



QUARTERBACK

Charlie Whitehurst is coming off a record-setting season in his first full year as Clemson's starter. Some think he can be a possible Heisman Trophy candidate, but that's down the road. Taking care of the football and making sound decisions will be enough for this game. For Wake Forest, redshirt junior Cory Randolph has talent. What he doesn't have is much margin for error.

ADVANTAGE - Clemson


RUNNING BACKS

With Duane Coleman on the sideline, the starting job falls to senior Yusef Kelly. Kelly, after a miserable time of it in 2003, has been a pleasant surprise with his work ethic and attitude going back to spring practice. He can be dangerous when focused. Youngsters Reggie Merriweather and Kyle Browning also will play, but none of the three are the complete back Coleman is. Wake's Chris Barclay is a stud who rushed for 163 yards and two TDs in this game a year ago. He can also be dangerous as a receiver.

ADVANTAGE - Wake Forest



WIDE RECEIVERS

Airese Currie is back for what he hopes will be an injury-free senior season. Before he was injured a year ago, he had taken away Derrick Hamilton's starting spot. Hamilton, of course, is now in the NFL. His replacement, Chansi Stuckey, is an explosion waiting to happen. Clemson coaches drool about his play-making ability. Kelvin Grant and Curtis Baham are talented, but have yet to carry the load as a starter. Meanwhile, Wake's duo of Willie Idlette and Jason Anderson have talent. But as a group the Deacs' receiving corps comes up a little short.

ADVANTAGE - Clemson



OFFENSIVE LINE

Clemson has been shuffling its line around quite a bit during fall camp, but now the initial starting group is set. It includes two former walk-ons (center Tommy Sharpe, LT Jesse Pickens) and two talented sophomores. The Tigers also have a good bit of depth here, though Roman Fry has been working No. 2 at both guard and tackle slots. As good as Wake Forest's line was a year ago, that's how uncertain things are with the group this season. With one senior, two freshmen and two sophomores, Jim Grobe's line will be trying to gain cohesion on the fly.

ADVANTAGE - Clemson



RUN DEFENSE

How good is Clemson's front seven? We get an early look right out of the gate. Wake Forest ran for 321 yards on the Tigers last year, and that was with veterans at the defensive tackle slots. Talk about your opening test. Wake Forest's defense got worse as the season went on last year, losing four straight games by an average of more than 17 points after their stunning win over Clemson. Part of that was due to an inability to control the line of scrimmage.

ADVANTAGE - Even



PASS DEFENSE

On paper Clemson may have the best defensive backs in the ACC, and one of the best units in the country. Justin Miller seems primed for a big junior season, and Tye Hill's transformation from tailback to corner was a complete success a year ago. Jamaal Fudge and Travis Pugh don't get the press heaped on the others, but they are just as good and just as important. Despite the big win last season, the Deacs allowed Clemson to throw for 345 yards.

ADVANTAGE - Clemson



SPECIAL TEAMS

Replacing a place kicker and looking for more consistency from its punting game, the Clemson special teams are a big question mark entering the season. The kickoff coverage unit should be strong again, however. Wake Forest's Matt Wisnosky (PK) and Ryan Plackemeier (P) are solid.

ADVANTAGE - Wake Forest



PICK

Clemson 34, Wake Forest 20

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