CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - Clemson's offense is beginning to run at full
capacity, while its defense continues to lead the Atlantic Coast
Conference and is No. 12 in the nation.
Yet those facts, even combined with Virginia's penchant for giving up
huge chunks of yardage on defense, don't mean much if Tommy Bowden's team
can't solve its mystifying special teams problem. Even No. 1 Miami, who
be head and shoulders above every other team in the NCAA, would have a
time overcoming 31 points allowed/set up by its special teams.
But that's precisely what the Tigers were forced to attempt in the
48-31 loss to Florida State last time out. To go through such madness again today
(Noon, ESPN2) would not bode well for Clemson's hopes of staying in the race
"Our breakdowns have come in our two biggest games," Bowden said. "The
have been on kickoff coverage and dropped snaps by the punter. The
the punt and kickoff against FSU did not happen in the Georgia game. It
the first turnover for both of those guys (Derrick Hamilton and Jackie
Robinson), and hopefully it will not
happen again for the rest of the year.
"The turnovers just did not come at an opportunistic time."
If Clemson can avoid a repeat of the FSU debacle, then it can turn its
attention to stopping the suddenly high-powered passing of Virginia
quarterback Matt Schaub.
Schaub, in and out of the lineup at the beginning of the season, has
himself of late and, in doing so, has proceeded to tear apart opposing
secondaries. Schaub, on a pace to throw for over 3,000 yards and 30
touchdowns, fires a scoring pass every 10.5 attempts and currently
ACC (No. 4 nationally) in passing.
He has thrown 15 touchdown passes over his last five games, giving
secondary something to worry about.
"You have to give him some different looks in the secondary," Bowden
"You also have to put some pressure on him. That combination will be
He's really in the zone right now as far as throwing is concerned. His
receivers are doing well and they have a good plan. So we're going to
do something to confuse him."
Bowden's other major concern is his own rushing offense.
No Tiger back has cracked the 100-yard mark this season, though Yusef
did average 95 yards per game in his three starts in place of senior
Rambert. But with the Cavaliers' giving up 231 yards per game on the
Bowden feels this is the time for his running backs to have that
"We are going into our sixth game now, and we need to have a 100-yard
rusher," he said. "In order to do that, somebody has to break a long
guy from Georgia Tech broke a long run, the guy from Florida State
long one, and the guy from Georgia had over 100 yards.
"So we need to get ours. We have to find some way to get somebody to
one for extra yardage."