It’s no secret that stopping Clemson’s offense will be a challenge for the Hokies.
Frank Beamer knows it. James Gayle knows it. Antone Exum knows it. Bud Foster knows it.
The Tigers (5-1, 2-1) will host the Hokies Saturday afternoon in Death Valley, hoping to make it three wins over the Hokies in the last two seasons.
”Hell, they’ve got to protect deep,” Foster said. “They can’t have yards after the catch. … Now, you can’t double those guys because then they’re going to run it up inside on you. So I’m hoping those guys will step up like they’re capable of doing.”
The Hokies will have to step up in a big way if they hope to pull off the upset. Their task: slow down a Clemson offense that ranks 13th in yards per game and averages over 40 points.
In last season’s first matchup, the Hokies entered ranked No. 11 in the country, but were promptly dismantled by the up-tempo Tigers. The Hokies held up in the first half on defense, but allowed two big plays in the second half — a Dwayne Allen 32-yard touchdown and a Mike Bellamy 31-yard touchdown — which gave the Tigers the 23-3 win.
“I would think that it’s definitely in the back of guys’ minds that we lost those two games to them,” Exum said.
The Hokies bounced back, earning another shot at the Tigers in the ACC Championship game, but the result was even worse for Beamer’s crew the second time around. The No. 5 Hokies allowed 457 yards of total offense, including 240 yards and three touchdowns by quarterback Tajh Boyd.
“It’s in the front of my mind that we lost the ACC championship game to them,” Exum said. “So that’s definitely a motivator for us to go down there and handle our business. You don’t want to use that revenge word, because it’s a new year and things like that. But like I said, it’s in the front of my mind.”
The primary pieces that made Clemson so tough last year are back again in 2012 and they haven’t missed a beat.
Boyd, who completed just 59.7 percent of his passes in 2011, has brought his completion percentage up to a stellar 68.2 percent this season. The weapons around him however are the real story.
DeAndre Hopkins and Sammy Watkins, two of the most dangerous and explosive playmakers in the country, line up at wide receiver and Andre Ellington takes the handoffs in the backfield. Those three have combined for 1,728 yards of total offense this season.