5 Keys To A Victory At Virginia
Traditionally the Tigers have struggled on televised Thursday night games. 0-5 if you want to be exact. Now they must go on the road against the 9th ranked Virginia Cavaliers. In the pre-season this was set up to be the matchup of the two teams that would challenge FSU and Miami for an ACC title. Virginia coming in undefeated has held up their end of the bargain, but the Tigers have simply just not executed.
Clemson must now pull together as a team like they did at the end of the year. One individual will not be enough to win in Charlottesville on Thursday night. Here are five things that need to happen for a Clemson victory on Thursday.
1. The Tigers need to come out early with a score. Virginia is outscoring opponents 51-3 in the first quarter. If Virginia is able to come out and build an early lead, it may be difficult for the Tigers to come back. However, if Clemson jumps out to the lead. You may see the Virginia passing attack become exposed.
2. Next, the Tigers must stop the run. Virginia will use a combination of Wali Lundy and Michael Johnson to attack the Tigers. Containing the run will be vitale to the Tiger's defensive success. There are still question marks surrounding if Virginia can win a game through the air. Leroy Hill will have his hands full spying on Hagans all night.
3. Be productive in special teams. In the first four games, the special teams has been great but bad. Three kicks returned for touchdowns, two blocked punts, but three missed kicks. This is an area where it appears the Tigers have an advantage. If the Cavaliers choose to not kick to Justin Miller, the offense needs to make use of the good field position. Groh could be cocky and see if Miller burns him once before kicking away.
4. Continue to show patience. Virginia will be willing to give up the short passes. This is the situation where Chansi Stuckey could really break out. He has the ability to turn the short passes into a big play. The Tigers may need him to break one to win on Thursday. Also you may see Justin Miller on slit screen or reverse to attack the Virginia defense. Virginia will try and clamp down inside the 40 yard line and this is where the rushing game has to emerge. Yusef Kelly received some redemption against the Cavaliers last season, and all signs point to him being given a shot again this year against the Wahoos.
5. TURNOVERS! TURNOVERS! TURNOVERS! TURNOVERS! The offense has to stop turning the ball over, and the defense has to start creating turnovers. Virginia has not had problems with turnovers this year so it will be a challenge. While the offense's 14 turnovers have garnered all the attention, the defense should have created more than two turnovers. The defense needs to give the offense some short field situations to win the game.