Even though all of us will be pullling for the Gold and Blue, this is a tough game to breakdown. Two really good offenses, with very opportunistic defenses. Here is a breakdown of who has the edge in the crucial areas of tonights game.
Neither team brings a stud defense to the table so both offenses should be able to move the ball quite well. This will be about who makes the mistake and which team takes advantage of the opponents miscues. The Mountaineers are undersized across the defensive front and at linebacker but are still very fast and athletic. Clemson is young, and will try to attack by blitzing most of the game. Andre Branch has been strong at DE late in the year for them. At corner, Clemson is weak. They are young and inexperienced. Cody Sensabaugh at corner is a good tackler but a high risk/high reward type player. For WV, expect them to pay a lot of attention to Freshman Sammy Watkins, with a saftey playing centerfield over the top. Both defenses as mentioned earlier are very opportunistic. I see WV with the slight edge having played slightly better defensively down the stretch this season.
EDGE: West Virginia.
I love both of these offensive attacks and what they can bring with playmakers everywhere. Having covered Clemson this year, I know just how explosive they can be. The problem has been thier consistency. But the key to the Clemson offense is the running game. If Andre Ellington gets loose and if quarterback Tahj Boyd can make plays with his feet, it could be a long day for WV. Sammy Watkins is another cog that makes this offensive attack churn as well. The offensive line however, has been up and down with Boyd not playing very well when under pressure.
As for West Virgina. its more of the same. Consistency has been an issue. The loss of Dustin Garrison hurts but that gives a chance for someone else to fill that void, which will more than likely be Shawne Alston. Andrew Blue should get carries as well. I expect Geno Smith to pass a little more than he usually does to take advantage of the weak secondary of Clemson. Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey will be big contributors as well if WV is to have success.
Sammy Watkins is a stud no matter where you put him. And in the return game, he is lethal. The kicking game is not really an issue. Neither kicker is great, but both are servicable here. I’ll give a push to both kickers, they have had some late game heroics over the course of the season but also some blunders. And Im not sure how much punting we will see tonight.
EDGE:Slight edge to Clemson because of Watkins.
Dabo Swinney is not an x’s and o’s guy but 1st year offensive coordinator Chad Morris is. Kevin Steele who manages the defense is pretty solid too. Dabo is the motivator/cheerleader and a darn good one. Kids rally around him and love to play for him. I respect greatly what Dabo has been able to do. For Dana Holgorsen, he is very similar except he is essentially dialing up the plays for the Mountaineers. But players seem to really buy into what he’s implemented. Tough one to call but WV has just a little more experience on the staff and on the field. Really tough to cap though in my opinion. Two up and coming coaches.
Listen, but with what I have seen on the field. I really do believe the Clemson corners will have a tough time keeping up with the speed of the West Virginia skill players. Geno will shine tonight. I think both defenses will come up with a key turnover as well. If and only IF Clemson commits to the run, they may be able to have some success but the Tigers have rarely done that this year.
Lets go 27-23 good guys WVU Lets GOOOO Mountaineers!!!