5 Keys To Victory
1) Contain McNeal - It has been a repetitive theme all week, but Clemson must contain Reggie McNeal. It is tall task for the defense. You cannot expect to shut McNeal down. If your plan is centered around completely stopping McNeal, then you plan is full of fallacy. McNeal is a great playmaker, and it is foolish to believe you can completely stop him. The idea is to force McNeal to throw the football. McNeal is most dangerous when he gets outside of the pocket, so if Clemson can keep him in the pocket they have a chance.
2) Win The Turnover Battle - The three interceptions were a killer last year. The Tigers must protect the football in order to have a chance to win. The Tigers will use more ball control under Rob Spence, so the risk will be less than last year. The defense has to force more turnovers. Anthony Waters dropped an interception in the endzone that the Aggies later punched in. If the defense can create some early turnovers, the confidence will build and it could be a special night for the Tigers.
3) Match TAMU Physically - Clemson was a flat as a pancake last year in College Station. Texas A&M was more physical and clearly wanted the game more than Clemson. Nathan Bennett and Roman Fry have to key the offensive line’s mean streak. The Tigers cannot afford to physically outmatched once again. It will be more difficult on defense as the Tigers are outsized. What the Tigers have is speed and strength. The interior defensive lineman need to show A&M early they will not be intimidated.
4) RUN THE FOOTBALL! - The running backs carried the ball 17 times last year. 17 carries is not enough to win many ball games, much less when you are playing a team the caliber of Texas A&M. Reggie Merriweather has proven he can carry the load. Merriweather also performed well last year against the Aggies with eight carries for 53 yards.
5) Make Sure Death Valley Is Death Valley - Clemson is getting closer to putting the “Death” back in Death Valley. If we are being honest, there was a time where it was lost. The Tigers have only lost two games at home the last two seasons. The Aggies have had their struggles on the road, and Death Valley is an environment where they cannot possibly know what to expect. It will be a sold out crowd, and the fans can do their part to help Clemson pull off the upset.
Prediction: This one will be close. I expect both sides to score some points. In the end, the Aggies have more experienced talent returning and it is difficult to pick the Tigers in this one. Texas A&M 31 Clemson 30