At long last the Tigers will run down the hill and open the season against North Texas.
Each week TheClemsonInsider.com will break down the keys to victory. Lets take a look at the TCI Keys to Victory for a Clemson win over the Mean Green of North Texas.
1. One Game at a Time
We all know the most talented team does not always in college football, especially early in the season. There is no question that Clemson is more talented than the Mean Green of North Texas, but they will need to focus on the game at hand and not look ahead in order to insure a victory Saturday afternoon in Death Valley.
The staff has spent the past week reinforcing with the players the need to play their best for all 12 games this season. The message appears to have been received by the players as a number of them mentioned the same during interviews this week.
2. Stop the Run
Corico Hawkins challenged his defensive teammates this week to be the No. 1 defense in the nation against the run. The Tigers will get a good test Saturday from running back Lance Dunbar and North Texas’ experienced offensive line. Dunbar rushed for almost 1400 yards last season.
If Clemson can stop the run they will force North Texas to go away from their strength. The Tigers’ two-deep on the defensive line is their best since the early 90’s. Clemson will rotate defensive linemen and should be able to wear down the Mean Green offensive line.
The Tigers will start a red-shirt freshmen and two sophomores at linebacker on Saturday. How they play will determine if the Tigers are able to stop the run. Can Hawkins “walk the walk” with his challenge to the defense? We will find out Saturday at 3:30 in the Valley.
3. Don’t Beat Yourself
Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said in Tuesday’s press conference that he looked forward to seeing the focus and attention to detail of his team on Saturday.
The Tigers will need to limit turnovers and penalties when they battle the Mean Green. The easiest way for Clemson to lose this game is to commit turnovers.
Clemson also needs to limit penalties. The Tigers need to make sure they don’t kill drives by committing penalties. The staff talks a lot about managing the down and distance. Reducing penalties is key.
4. OL Not Just Hype
We’ve heard it before in the preseason. The offensive will be better this year.
With the Tigers returning six “starters” on the offensive line the staff, media and others have talked about how good the 2010 offensive line will be. On paper that looks to be the case, but of course that is why they play the games.
This year it is not just hype. The offensive line should be dominant. Clemson should be able to move the ball on the ground with the offensive line they return and Kyle should have plenty of time to throw the ball down field when needed.