Dan Scott: Texas A&M vs Clemson Prediction

by - Correspondent -

Well, well, well.

Time to put my neck on the ol' chopping block again, eh? Clemson football has
arrived, and with it my yearly TigerNet predictions. My, how time flies between

Previous years have yielded mixed results. For much of 2002 and 2003 I was on a
roll - 16-4 over one 20-game span.

Last year, not so much. Don't think that one's worth dredging up again.

But here it is, 2005. And those other predictions I've already made, the ones in
Tiger Time Magazine? Too early in the season. Predictions simply to warm up for
the predictions, so to speak. Now, after a month of camp, we're ready for the
real thing.

So here we go:

TEXAS A&M (0-0) at CLEMSON (0-0)

When Clemson Has The Ball

Clemson's single greatest advantage in this game is here, where the unknown
of Rob Spence's new offense hasn't allowed the Aggies proper preparation. Spence
was brought in to shore up the running game and increase efficiency in the
passing game, and by all accounts from August camp he's done just that. Of
course, the Tigers have yet to play anyone, so all of that remains up in the
air. But the vibe wafting out of Clemson camp is good where the offense is
concerned. If the four-headed running back monster - Reggie Merriweather, Duane
Coleman, Kyle Browning and James Davis - can produce, this offense will be
dangerous. Of course, that's also contingent on Charlie Whitehurst getting help
from his receivers, hoping they catch a pass or two this time around. Protecting
Whitehurst against a big defensive line will be key, but if the Tigers do that
the offense should be productive. Look for Clemson to try and exploit the Aggies'
two new starting cornerbacks.


When Texas A&M Has The Ball

The good news for Clemson here is that Vic Koening's defense also has the
element of the unknown working in its favor. The bad news? That might not be
enough. The Aggies' huge offensive line does a great job of protecting
quarterback Reggie McNeal, who some think might be a Heisman candidate this
year. He looked like one a year ago vs. Clemson, running and passing A&M to a
21-point win. So far, according to head coach Tommy Bowden, no one on the
defensive line has accepted the role of play-maker and proven leader. That,
along with the size mismatch, could spell trouble for the Clemson defense. In
fact, it likely will overshadow the other questions lingering about the Tiger
'D,' such as who becomes the stopper at linebacker, and which two players are
ready to shine at corner and safety, respectively?


Special Teams

Both teams return much experience in the facet of the game. But there are
some key areas that bear watching. How will Chansi Stuckey and C.J. Gaddis
handle return duties? Can Clemson rattle the Aggies' freshman punter? Will the
Tigers' new long snapper - Nic Riddle - hold up under pressure? It may all come
down to field position and field goals, and with Jad Dean's leg strength he
would be hard to bet against.



Coach Fran has them rolling in the aisles in College Station, as well as
bringing Yell Practice all the way to Greenville. But I like Clemson's advantage
of the unknown here. Plus, I'm hearing that Spence schemes like a demon. We
shall see.


Bottom line here, I believe, could be the old "whoever has the ball last wins"
scenario. Gambling that Spence's offense truly is ahead of the Tigers' defense,
Clemson may have to win a high-scoring game to get 2005 off on the right foot.
Says here in my Magic Helmet that they will.


Clemson 34, Texas A&M 30

Dan Scott covers Clemson University for the The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Seneca Daily Journal/Clemson Messenger and TigerNet. He also hosts SportsTalk from 9 a.m.-Noon, Monday-Friday, on WCCP-Fm, 104.9. Click here for Dan Scott's SportsTalk discussion board.

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