After a tough loss last week, our Deacs are 4-1 and heading south to take on the defending national champions, the Clemson Tigers. At 5-0, the Tigers are currently ranked 2nd in the nation and are probably playing better than anyone in country right now. This was one of those times where I couldn’t make up my mind on who to pick. The Tigers are ridiculously deep at every position and have so many playmakers all over the field; It was just really hard to determine which one guy could have a big day against Wake Forest.
Offense: Kelly Bryant | Junior QB | #2
Clemson lost one of the best players in the country last season in Deshaun Watson, but the Tigers don’t seem to be missing him all that much. Kelly Bryant has stepped right into the QB spot and has the Tiger offense as efficient and dangerous as ever. Bryant isn’t the passer that Watson was, but he makes up for it by being an incredible runner. Playing to their strengths, the Clemson offense is throwing the ball a lot less than last season to focus on the run; The Tigers are averaging around 13 fewer passing attempts per game and 110 fewer passing yards per game than a season ago, but have increased their rushing total from 170 to 250 yards per game. Bryant leads the Tigers this season with 85 rushing attempts for 362 yards (4.3 avg) and 7 TDs. While Bryant doesn’t appear to be as dangerous in the passing game (3 TDs, 3 Ints on the season), he has a very strong arm and extremely talented receivers around him (Renfrow, McCloud, Cain) who are fantastic at getting 50-50 balls in single coverage. With all the unique ways Clemson uses Bryant, he may be difficult to contain on Saturday.
Defense: Dorian O’Daniel | RS Graduate LB | #6
Dorian O’Daniel is a veteran member of a stacked defensive unit that is currently giving up just 250 yards per game (10th in the nation) and 10.8 points per game (4th in the nation). Through 5 games this season, he has racked up 38 total tackles, 5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, 2 interceptions (both pick-6s), and one fumble recovery. He was named this week’s ACC Player of the Week and FWAA/Bronko Nagurski National Defensive Player of the Week for his 10 tackle, 1 sack, 1 int TD performance against VT. He also had a great game against a highly ranked Auburn team earlier this year in which he recorded 14 total tackles and 1.5 sacks. Clearly O’Daniel is the type of player who can make an impact stopping the run, rushing the QB, and dropping back into coverage. That combination makes him a dangerous defender who the Deacs will need to account for on Saturday.