Clemson defense will try to replicate what Hokies did

Clemson defense will try to replicate what Hokies did

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Clemson defense will try to replicate what Hokies did

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Virginia Tech held Wake Forest to season lows in rushing, passing, total yards and points

For the first time all season, Wake Forest’s offense was shut down in last week’s 36-17 loss at Virginia Tech.

The Hokies’ defense played perhaps its best game of the season limiting the Demon Deacons to a season-low 301 yards and 17 points. Wake, who visits No. 3 Clemson on Saturday, was shut out in the second half as Virginia Tech scored the game’s last 23 points.

“They just physically got after them,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said when asked what the Hokies did different than anyone else who had played the Deacons.

Last Saturday’s game in Blacksburg, Virginia marked the first time all year Wake Forest (7-2, 3-2 ACC) was held under 400 yards of total offense.

“They played a lot of man coverage. They mixed it up and they played some zone as well,” Swinney said. “They just did a good job of mixing coverages and they just affected them.”

Bud Foster’s defense affected quarterback Jamie Newman like no one has all year. He completed just 16-36 passes for 238 yards. He did throw two touchdown passes, but he also threw two picks. It was his worst game of the season.

It also did not help that Wake’s best receiver, Sage Surratt, was knocked out of the game. Wake Forest head coach Dave Clawson announced on Tuesday that Surratt (shoulder) is out for the season.

“They affected their rhythm in two ways. They got after them up front and I thought held their own,” Swinney said about the Hokies’ defense. “Their left end is a great player. I thought he gave them some challenges throughout the game and their ability to cover outside affected some of their rhythm and timing as well.”

In a classic Bud Foster approach, Virginia Tech brought a lot pressure and did a good job of mixing their coverages up. Foster, Tech’s defensive coordinator, made things really uncomfortable for Newman, who, up to that point, had not been rattled all season.

“(Wake Forest) just never really got comfortable. You have to give (Virginia Tech) a lot of credit for that, they really did a nice job. They were physical,” Swinney said.

Wake comes into Saturday’s game at Memorial Stadium second in the ACC in total offense (487.3 yds/game), second in points per game (35.7) and first in passing yards per game (314.1).

Newman has led the way by completing 64.5 percent of his throws for 2,297 yards. He has 22 touchdowns to 7 interceptions and is averaging 8.1 yards per attempt.

But against the Hokies the passing game never really took off and a large part of that was due to the fact they could not run the football. The Hokies held Wake to a season low 63 yards on the ground.

“Wake is a physical team and it starts with that offensive line,” Swinney said. “They get after you and those backs punish you when you tackle them. They are just a down-hill physical guys that like it.”

However, the Deacons have failed to reach 200 yards on the ground in each of the last three games, which has started to affect Newman and the passing game.

“(Virginia Tech) just won some matchups and their ability to cover outside,” Swinney said. “Wake had been hitting a lot of 50-50 balls, a bunch of them. They also dropped a couple of balls that they have been making.

“They just missed a few plays, and in a game like that those plays are critical. Virginia Tech was just the better team on that day.”

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