By Heath Bradley.
The 2012 season kicks off in just over three months. As the Tigers prepare for summer workouts TheClemsonInsider.com takes an early look at the 2012 opponents. In the first of the series we look at Ball State.
Date: Sept. 8, 2012
Location: Clemson, SC
Time: 12:30 p.m. ET
TV: ACC Network
2012 BALL STATE QUICK FACTS
Location: Muncie, Ind.
Colors: Cardinal and White
Conference: Mid-American (West)
2011 Record – Overall (Conference): 6-6 (4-4),
Head Coach: Pete Lembo, 85-42 Overall in 11 Seasons. 1 Season at Ball State (2011) 6-6
Coordinators: Offensive Coordinator- Rich Strosky; Defensive Coordinator- Jay Bateman
Returning Lettermen: 30
Returning Starters: 13, 8 Offense, 5 Defense
Key Returning Players: QB- Keith Wenning, WR- Briggs Orbson, MLB- Travis Freeman
Key Losses: SS- Sean Baker – 1st Team All-MAC, SLB- Aaron Morris- 1st Team All-MAC
What to Expect: Clemson last faced Ball State in 2002, when the Tigers defeated the Cardinals 30-7 in Death Valley. The key to a Clemson victory that day was defense and heading into round two of the matchup almost a decade later, defense should set the tone as well. The Tigers will look to stop a Ball State offense that returns its quarterback as well as one of its top receivers from 2011. If The Tigers can keep the Cardinals offense off the field and Tajh Boyd and company on the field, the offense has a chance for a big day.
Ball State lost many key members of its defense, including two first-team All-MAC selections in 2011. Expect Clemson to try and run the ball early and often, working to control the game clock as well as maintain possession. In the 2002 meeting, J.J. McKelvey caught 10 passes for 115 yards and a touchdown. While we do not expect one single Tiger to catch 10 passes, the possibility for a Clemson receiver such as DeAndre Hopkins or Martavis Bryant to have a big day against the Ball State secondary is very possible. Expect Clemson to lure the Ball State defense in with the run, and then try and hit some deep passes with the play action game. If they Tigers come out and take care of business on the defense, expect a win in the same fashion as 2002. The Clemson defense will set the tone for this game, If they can shut down the Ball State offense, expect a convincing Tiger victory, with the offense scoring over 40 points.