The Final Breakdown

CLEMSON - Some might call it a warm-up, but one final game lies between Clemson and the meat of its 2011 schedule.

WHAT: Clemson vs. Wofford
WHERE: Memorial Stadium (80,301) - Clemson, S.C.
WHEN: Saturday, Sept. 10 (3:30 p.m.)
SPREAD: N/A
TV: ESPN3

But Wofford's no pushover.

Head coach Mike Ayers has led the Terriers to four appearances in the FCS playoffs and three Southern Conference titles, and he's the winningest coach in school history with a 155-107-1 record.

They're talented, too.

Six Wofford players were named Preseason All-Southern Conference -- fullback Eric Breitenstein, defensive end Ameet Pall and offensive lineman Nate Page made the first team. Wide receiver Brenton Bersin, defensive tackle Eric Eberhardt and cornerback Blake Wylie made the second team.

Breitenstein was named the SoCon Preseason Offensive Player of the Year while Pall was named the SoCon Preseason Defensive Player of the Year with Georgia Southern's Brent Russell.

The Terriers return their top rusher [Breitenstein], the top pass catcher [Bersin] and the top passer [Mitch Allen].

Wofford [1-0], opened the 2011 season with a 35-28 win at PC.

Clemson [1-0] is coming off a 43-19 home win over Troy.

CLEMSON PASSING GAME VS. WOFFORD SECONDARY, PASS RUSH
Even by his own admission, Tajh Boyd struggled in the first half of his first-career start.

After settling down in the second, he was on target. Much of that success could be attributed to the one-two combination he formed with Sammy Watkins, who was electric in his Clemson debut. Watkins finished last week's game against Troy with 81 yards receiving and a score.


Tajh Boyd overcame a shaky first half to throw for over 250 yards and three touchdowns last week against Troy. (Roy Philpott)
Wylie and Preston Roseboro, the Wofford starting cornerbacks, will have their hands full trying to contain Watkins and the rest of Clemson's talented freshman class of wide receivers.

Charone Peake, Martavis Bryant, plus DeAndre Hopkins and Jaron Brown, are bigger, faster and stronger than the Terriers' cornerbacks.

There's also the matchup problem created by Dwayne Allen. He's a tough one for opponents with talent that can more evenly matchup against Clemson. Saturday, potentially, could be a big afternoon for him.

Boyd should have another productive afternoon, assuming he can settle in like he did in the second half against Troy.

Though outside linebacker Alvin Scioneaux registered two sacks against PC last week, Pall is the biggest pass rushing threat for Wofford. Last season, the right defensive end led the team with 12.5 sacks. He'll line up at right defensive end and draw a matchup with Phillip Price.

Pass protection wasn't all that bad last week for Clemson. According to head coach Dabo Swinney and offensive coordinator Chad Morris, two of the three sacks the Tigers allowed were Boyd's fault, not the line.

Size, speed and talent wins out. Clemson takes this matchup without much worry.

ADVANTAGE:

CLEMSON RUNNING GAME VS. WOFFORD FRONT
With the exception of Ebherhardt, the Wofford defensive front is undersized when compared to the Clemson offensive line. Eberhardt's 285-pound frame, which makes him the heaviest starter for the Terriers, is as heavy as Dalton Freeman, the Tigers' lightest starter up front.

The Clemson offensive line should be able to push their way to the second level without much trouble. There, they'll find linebackers that are sized like safeties.


Andre Ellington should have another solid day Saturday against the Wofford defense. (Roy Philpott)
Gaping holes and wide rushing lanes should set up plenty of long runs by Andre Ellington, Mike Bellamy and D.J. Howard, all of whom ran well last weekend.

Throw in the added threat of running plays for Watkins, Peake and Bryant, Morris' 200-yard rushing goal should be well within reach.

Wofford does have four of the top five tacklers back from a year ago.

Mike Niam, who played in only eight games, was second among Terrier defenders with 65 tackles. He'll play inside linebacker on Saturday.

Pall had 60 while inside linebacker Mike McCrimon had 55 and Wylie had 51.

The Clemson running backs will just be too explosive. It should be a very productive day on the ground for the Tigers.

ADVANTAGE:

WOFFORD RUNNING GAME VS. CLEMSON FRONT
Here's where things might get interesting. Wofford was first among all FCS in rushing last season with 297.8 yards per game.

A quick glance the Terriers' option offense lends to an assumption that it's a carbon copy of Georgia Tech -- not so much.

Earlier this week, Clemson defensive coordinator Kevin Steele said the Wofford offense is closer to 40 percent Georgia Tech, with 30 percent leaning towards Auburn and the other 30 percent in the direction of South Carolina.


Wofford RB Eric Breitenstein will take advantage of Clemson's defense if the Tigers have another poor tackling performance Saturday. (WG Sports Photos)
That wide-range of looks could make the challenge even greater for the Tigers on Saturday.

Wofford utilizes a two-head attack in Breitenstein and Allen, who combined to rush for over 2,300 yards and 26 touchdowns in 2010.

Starting defensive tackles Brandon Thompson and Rennie Moore, particularly Thompson, should be just fine run-stuffing the Terriers. Freshmen Grady Jarett and DeShawn Williams, who made their college debuts last week, will be put to the test again on Saturday.

It's assignment football when defending the option. That means linebackers Corico Hawkins, Quandon Christian and Jonathan Willard have to be on their p's and q's at all times. Same goes for freshmen Stephone Anthony and Tony Steward. The two freshmen could have greater roles this weekend.

Look for Jonathan Meeks to walk down into the box to defend the run from the strong safety position. However, he could see time at free safety with Rashard Hall likely to miss the game because of a knee injury.

Defending against a mobile quarterback has been somewhat of a bugaboo for the Clemson defense over the last few years, so reaching Steele's target of 3.3 yards per carry could be a tough task.

As the deficit on the scoreboard becomes greater, Wofford will be forced to throw more.

ADVANTAGE:

WOFFORD PASSING GAME VS. CLEMSON SECONDARY, PASS RUSH
Mitch Allen may have only attempted 84 passes all season in 2010 and completed them at a low percentage [54], but when completed, they went for big gains.

Wofford averaged 18.1 yards per completion a season ago.


Clemson's defensive backs can't be lulled to sleep by Wofford's triple-option rushing attack. (Roy Philpott)
Bersin, the Terriers' leading pass catcher, caught 32 passes for 703 yards and nine touchdowns in 2010.

Against PC last week, Wofford completed eight passes for 182 yards.

Charged with defending the deep balls will be Xavier Brewer and Coty Sensabaugh. If Bashaud Breeland isn't playing free safety in place of Hall, he'll factor into the mix, too.

Because Wofford runs the ball so frequently, opportunities for sacks could be at a premium again this week.

A comfortable lead could force Wofford to throw more than usual. Since the Terriers use the pass more for deception, it's unlikely that they'll be able to hit the Tigers for many completions down the stretch.

ADVANTAGE:

CLEMSON SPECIAL TEAMS VS. WOFFORD SPECIAL TEAMS
Chandler Catanzaro knocked down his first three field goal attempts of the season. The two first quarter kicks were from 46 yards. The first, from the right hash mark, the second from the left. He also drilled a third from 45 in the fourth quarter.


Chandler Catanzaro tied a school record with three field goals of 40 yards or longer last week against Troy. (Roy Philpott)
He tied a school record for the most kicks over 40 yards in a single game.

However, none of the three were pressure kicks -- those won't come until at least next week. Regardless, his momentum has started off in a positive direction.

Dawson Zimmerman was also solid. He hit six punts for a total of 255 yards. Two were downed inside the 20-yardline and one was over 50 yards. He'll be lucky to hit two punts against Wofford.

Clemson's depth of talent will be on display on all special teams, and don't be surprised if there is a house call for Watkins or Bellamy.

Again, advantage Clemson ... and likely in a very big way.

ADVANTAGE:

PREDICTION: Clemson 54 Wofford 9


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