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Previewing the Clemson Offense

Deacs face a tough task in trying to stop the reigning national champs

NCAA Football: Clemson at Virginia Tech Lee Luther Jr.-USA TODAY Sports

On Saturday the Deacs will travel to Memorial Stadium (known by most as Death Valley) in Clemson, South Carolina to take on the Clemson Tigers in a noon matchup.

Clemson comes into the game 5-0, having defeated Kent State 56-3, Auburn 14-6, and Boston College 34-7 at home, and Louisville 47-21 and Virginia Tech 31-17 on the road.

The Tigers are led by junior quarterback Kelly Bryant, who is 86-130 on the year for a 66.2% completion rate and 1059 yards passing. Bryant is averaging 8.15 yards per attempt on the season, and has thrown 3 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. He has been sacked 13 times and has a QB rating of 137.6. For comparison, John Wolford has a QB rating of 152.1.

While 3 passing touchdowns may not seem like a lot, most of Clemson’s scoring has come in the running game, with Bryant right at the center. He has 85 rushing attempts for 382 yards and 7 rushing touchdowns on the season. He averages 4.3 yards per rush, with a long of 47 yards.

Clemson is like Wake in that the quarterback is the leading rusher, but that may be where the comparisons end.

Their offense features four running backs, all of whom are capable of explosive plays.

Freshman Travis Etienne leads the Tigers’ backs with 31 carries for 311 yards, good for 10 yards per carry, and 4 touchdowns, including an 81 yard sprint for six. Sophomore Tavien Feaster has 48 carries for 248 yards, good for 5.8 yards per carry and 2 touchdowns. Junior C.J. Fuller has 26 carries for 116 yards and 3 touchdowns. Junior Adam Choice has 21 carries for 110 yards and 3 touchdowns.

Needless to say, the Deacon defense will have their hands full all game long no matter which back is carrying the ball.

Junior Ray-Ray McCloud is the leading receiver with 21 receptions for 253 yards, good for 12 yards per reception, and a 79 yard touchdown catch. Junior Hunter Renfrow has 23 catches for 221 yards, good for 9.6 yards per reception. Junior Deon Cain has 13 catches for 206 yards, good for 15.8 yards per catch, and a 61 yard touchdown.

Kicker Greg Huegel tore his ACL in a freak accident in practice, so Alex Spence is filling in at placekicker. He is 9-10 on extra points, and 1-2 on field goals, as he missed a 41 yarder and converted a 23 yarder against Virginia Tech on Saturday.

Beating the Tigers in Death Valley will be a tall, and likely nearly impossible task for the Deacs on Saturday. The offense is so diverse, and big plays can happen at any moment. It must be nice to be the reigning national champs and be able to run pretty much whatever you want to successfully. Wake’s defense will face its toughest task all season on Saturday.