Dan Scott: Wake Forest - Clemson Prediction
It's good news, bad news for Clemson's offense these days. The good news is
the Tigers have no problem rolling up yardage, compiling over 400 yards in
each of the last four games. The bad news is points, or to be more exact a
lack of them. The Tigers were all over the red zone a week ago against
Virginia, yet came away with just 17 points - seven of which came on the
last-minute Charlie Whitehurst drive. After averaging over 30 points a game
last year, Clemson and its wide open offense are seventh in the Atlantic
Coast Conference at 27.7 points per game. Rumblings are Whitehurst may play
this week, regardless of whether Willie Simmons fumbles or not. Meanwhile,
Wake Forest and it's tough-guy running game is averaging just over 28 points
per game, thanks to the efforts of Nick Burney (375 yards) and Chris Barclay
(341). Even wideout Fabian Davis gets into the ground attack, rushing for 274
yards so far. Easy to see, then, why the Deacons rank No. 15 in the country
in rushing with over 233 yards per game. Unlike Clemson, Wake Forest has
discovered its offensive identity.
ADVANTAGE - Even
While Wake Forest is averaging 233 yards rushing per game, Clemson's defense
is allowing just 117. It would be an understatement to say one of the main
keys to this game for the Tigers is to make sure that trend holds. Forcing
Wake Forest to pass takes the Deacs out of their preferred - and most
successful - mode of operation. Wake, on the other hand, will have to focus
its attention on more than just the Clemson quarterback this year. A year ago
Woody Dantzler accounted for 330 of the Tigers' 391 yards of total offense.
If Willie Simmons is on, Clemson's offense could flourish because WFU allows
248 passing yards per game.
ADVANTAGE - Clemson
Poor performances out of punter Wynn Kopp have become the rule, rather than
the exception for the Tigers so far in 2002. Whether he or walk-on Kyle
Tucker ultimately ends up kicking this week, the 31.1 Kopp averaged at
Virginia a week ago is unacceptable. Against a team which loves to run the
ball, field position can be an important weapon. After being held down by the
Cavaliers a week ago, return dynamo Derrick Hamilton will look to break out
again. Fortunately for the Tigers, Wake's kicking game has been less than
spectacular, too, averaging 39.3 yards per kick overall (to Clemson's 35.4)
and making just 9-of-16 field goal attempts.
ADVANTAGE - Even
Clemson appears to be a team searching for an identity. Wake Forest knows who
it is and where it's going.
ADVANTAGE - Wake Forest
While an important game for both schools, Clemson's season is hanging in the
balance. That fact alone swings - or at least should - the momentum squarely
in the Tigers' favor. After getting embarrassed on Homecoming Saturday by
North Carolina (38-3) a year ago, Tiger fans get to enjoy the day once again.
But not without a fight.
Clemson 28, Wake Forest 17