By Gray Gardner.
Boston College travels to Death Valley Saturday to battle the No. 8 Clemson Tigers.
How will the Clemson offense matchup with the Eagles defense? What are the keys to another victory for the Tigers. TCI previews how the Clemson offense will do against the Boston College defense.
Last Week in Review: Clemson Offense
Clemson won its fifth straight game Saturday against Virginia Tech and its third straight against a ranked opponent. The Tigers offense sputtered compared to previous high-scoring performances, but still put up 23 points on 323 total yards.
Quarterback Tajh Boyd suffered statistically, but showed maturity in managing the offense and making good decisions to either throw the ball away or run under pressure. His lone bad decision came on a pass that was intercepted by the Virginia Tech defense in the first half.
Tight end Dwayne Allen was stellar again and caught 4 balls for 75 yards and a touchdown. The Clemson offense proved that it is not a one-man show, as star Sammy Watkins was held to only 3 catches for 38 yards.
Clemson’s offensive line also improved by leaps and bounds Saturday night. The group opened up the running game for the first time this season and showed toughness in pass protection, despite facing two of the best pass rushers in the ACC.
Last Week in Review: Boston College Defense
Boston College is coming off a 27-19 loss to Wake Forest. The game was Boston College’s fourth loss of the season. The Eagles’ defense has been better than its offense but still ranks 85th in the nation.
Against Wake Forest, the Eagles allowed 392 yards of total offense which included two scores on the ground and one through the air. Boston College held the Demon Deacons to 10 points in the second half and only a field goal in the fourth quarter, but the deficit was too much to overcome for its offense.
The Eagles’ defense was not successful in getting to the quarterback Saturday, and have generally struggled in that department all season. One positive was Al Louis-Jean’s interception in the third quarter. Star linebacker Luke Kuechly also continued to impress with 8 tackles and 2 tackles for loss.
-Clemson’s Running Game vs. Boston College’s Run Defense
Chad Morris said Monday that it is only a matter of time before Andre Ellington “breaks lose.” This week could be the week that happens. Boston College is allowing 153 yards rushing per game for an average of 4.1 yards a carry. The Eagles’ defensive front has been less than impressive so far in 2011, and the only notable playmaker in the box will be linebacker Luke Kuechly (who we’ll get to in a moment).
Last week Clemson won at Virginia Tech by utilizing the run game successfully. Mike Bellamy proved that he has the skills to be electrifying from the backfield, and Andre Ellington continued to show that he can carry the load as an every down back. But possibly the most important thing we saw from the Tigers’ win last Saturday was the offensive line’s improvement in the run game. They consistently created a push up front and created just enough room for Clemson’s backs to scrap up yardage. This Saturday against Boston College should be a great opportunity for the Tigers’ run game to continue to improve with dominance up front.
-Dwayne Allen vs. Luke Kuechly
This isn’t necessarily a mismatch, but it certainly is an interesting match-up. Opposing defenses have had fits trying to cover Dwayne Allen. But I mean really, what do you do? If you guard him solely as a receiver, you lose to his blocking ability in the run game. If you guard him solely as a blocker, you lose to his big-play ability in the pass game. The Eagles may decide to lock the best player on their defense – Luke Kuechly – on Allen for Saturday’s game. Kuechly will offer more athleticism and physicality to defend Allen than anyone else on Boston College’s defense, but even that might not be enough. Kuechly, described by Chad Morris as a “Brian Urlacher type player,” is considerably slower than Allen, and could struggle in coverage against the Tigers’ tight end. Whatever the Eagles decide to do, it’s sure to be an interesting matchup, but Dwayne Allen is likely to come out on top every time.
The opening line had Clemson by 20. I think this is a safe bet.
Anyone with a background in economics knows that history cannot accurately determine the future. The fact that Clemson has not scored an offensive touchdown against Boston College in two years is irrelevant when it comes to the 2011 matchup. What matters is current trends and talents on each team.
The current trend for Boston College is poor defense and even worse offense.
The current trend for Clemson is high-scoring offense and steady defense.
Clemson has the playmakers offensively to create mismatches at every position. I look for the Tigers to open up the running game early and depend on Andre Ellington to have a big game. Don’t think that Ellington will be the only one padding stats, though. Tajh Boyd and his prolific receiving corps will put up plenty of stats, as Boston College’s defense won’t know what to do to slow the Tigers down. As with any game, the defense may have their stands and a couple of good plays. But for the most part, Clemson should dominate this game offensively.