Scouting the 'Canes

Miami won't have to contend with C.J. Spiller again this year when the Hurricanes travel to Clemson, but coach Randy Shannon notes the Tigers will have plenty of weapons at their disposal.

Running backs Jamie Harper and Andre Ellington have combined for 427 yards rushing in Clemson's three outings in taking over for Spiller, who rushed for 81 yards, caught passes for 104 more, and returned three kickoffs for 105 yards in last year's Tigers' win at Miami.

"They've got two good tailbacks in Harper and Ellington," Shannon said. "Real good running backs. Those guys are very explosive.

"Ellington is probably the fastest and Harper is a bigger guy. But he has speed also. They're not going to change what they've been doing."

The bigger difference may be seen on special teams. The Tigers are only ninth in the ACC in kickoff returns this season.

"They've got guys back there. They've got return guys, like us," Shannon said. "But there ain't nobody going to have a C.J. Spiller back there. That was only one time."

The trip to Clemson will finish a grueling stretch for the Hurricanes, who have been on the road twice since opening the season at home on Sept. 2.

There will be nine days between games since their win over Pittsburgh, which followed a loss at No. 2 Ohio State.

SCOUTING THE 'CANES: Miami's game at Clemson will feature an interesting clash in the trenches. The Hurricanes are second nationally in sacks per game (4.67), but the Tigers have allowed only two sacks all season.

Four Hurricanes are also ranked in the Top 10 of various NCAA statistical categories. RB Lamar Miller is second in kickoff returns (37.75 per-return average), WR Travis Benjamin is fourth in punt returns (24.5), LB Sean Spence is sixth in tackles for loss (2.0 per game), and DE Olivier Vernon is tied for ninth in sacks (1.17).

WR Travis Benjamin is fourth in the nation in punt returns (24.5) this year. (Getty Images)
THE OFFENSE: Despite a solid group of running backs headed by senior Damien Berry (75.3 yards per game), the Hurricanes have yet to establish a consistent running game. They are producing only 125 yards per game on the ground, ahead of only Boston College and North Carolina in the ACC. QB Jacory Harris has multiple targets to throw to but has been picked off six times in the last two games.

THE DEFENSE: The Hurricanes lead the league and are eighth in the country in total defense in yielding only 252 yards a game. The front seven is a solid group overall, though beyond Sean Spence and Colin McCarthy, linebacker is a bit thin. Coach Randy Shannon shook up the secondary with two new starters in the win over Pittsburgh, and one of them, senior CB Ryan Hill, came up with an interception.

KEYS FOR MIAMI: Get the running game going. Miami has rushed for only 220 yards in the last two games and needs to take advantage of a Clemson defense that is surrendering 185 yards a game on the ground. The Hurricanes must keep Clemson RB Andre Ellington, the ACC's No. 2 rusher, in check.

KEYS FOR CLEMSON: KEYS TO THE GAME: Clemson's priority this week will be protecting quarterback Kyle Parker. Parker suffered bruised ribs against Auburn on Sept. 18 and didn't throw a pass in practice until the Thursday after the game, so keeping Miami's aggressive pass rush at bay takes on added importance Saturday. Adding a question mark to that equation is the fact that the Tigers have had to juggle their offensive linemen a bit following the loss of left guard David Smith to a high ankle sprain. With Miami ranking among the national leaders in sacks and tackles for loss, it's imperative that the Tigers keep Parker out of harm's way as much as possible. Top Stories