Scouting Clemson, Virginia Tech

Clemson's offense has been clicking on all cylinders over the past couple of weeks, averaging 89 plays and 29 first downs in victories over Auburn and Florida State.

The Tigers also have converted 24-of-35 third-down opportunities during that span, thanks primarily to a passing game that has emerged as the team's strong suit.

But the running game remains a concern. Preseason All-ACC RB Andre Ellington has had just one 100-yard game this season, and the offensive line hasn't performed up to expectations consistently opening holes.

Defense was Clemson's calling card last season, but this year's unit has slipped considerably, ranking 90th nationally in yards allowed per game. The Tigers' front line of Rennie Moore, Brandon Thompson, Malliciah Goodman and Andre Branch has stepped up, but the linebackers and secondary continue to surrender big plays.

Clemson returned several veterans both at linebacker and in the secondary, but this is a first year of starting for the bulk of the players, and growing pains are obvious.

Meanwhile Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer said after the Marshall game, his team does some things really well and then doesn't do them well. This unit rolled up over 200 yards rushing and 200 passing at Marshall, but left double-digit points on the field with two turnovers and a missed field goal.

With their first really good opponent coming into town, albeit one with some holes on defense, the Hokies have to tighten things up or it might cost them. Wide receiver is a potential concern this week, depending on how many guys are unable to go due to injury.

Although Marshall did hit some big plays, Tech was again above average, allowing just 10 points and 251 total yards. It permitted just six yards rushing and made the Thundering Herd one-dimensional. While Clemson QB Tajh Boyd appears to be a cut above anyone the Hokies have faced, it's safe to say this defense -- especially in what promises to be a loud environment on Saturday night in Blacksburg -- might be the toughest Boyd has faced. Tech's line continues to whip opponents off the snap and get into the backfield with regularity.

CLEMSON FAST FACTS: Tigers: A victory for 13th-ranked Clemson would improve the Tigers to 5-0 for the first time since the 2000 season and continue their upward mobility in the national polls.

* Clemson has struggled against the Hokies of late, losing five consecutive games to Virginia Tech, including a 41-23 decision in their most recent meeting in 2007. This will be the fourth straight game that Clemson has faced Virginia Tech as a Top 25 team.

* Clemson, which already has snapped Auburn's 17-game winning streak this season, has a chance to end another streak at Virginia Tech. The Hokies have won 12 consecutive ACC games over the past two seasons and have won 15 straight regular-season games.

* Freshman WR Sammy Watkins is tied for the national lead with six touchdown receptions this season. He also is averaging 7.0 catches per game, which ranks him second in the aCC and first in the nation among freshmen.

* Sophomore QB Tajh Boyd has thrown for 1,255 yards in just four games, the most passing yards by a Clemson quarterback in any four-game stretch in school history.

* WR Bryce McNeal has decided to leave the football program, but will remain in school at Clemson until he graduates next summer. McNeal, who had one catch for eight yards in three games this season, plans to play elsewhere in 2012.

VIRGINIA TECH FAST FACTS: The Hokies may have won the last five meetings with Clemson but they are only 4-7 against Clemson at home and only 2-5 against the Tigers in Lane Stadium.

* The Hokies' defense has mopped up on its less-than-stellar non-conference opposition, allowing just 40 points (five touchdowns) in four games. By yielding just six rushing yards at Marshall, they leap-frogged Alabama for second in the nation against the run at 43 yards per game.

* Tech QBs coach/play-caller Mike O'Cain is a 1977 graduate of Clemson and also coached there from 2001-04, serving as the offensive coordinator in 2004. On the other sideline, Clemson tight ends coach Danny Pearman held a similar position on the Hokies' staff from 1998-2005.

* TBs David Wilson and Josh Oglesby have combined for 10 of Tech's 11 rushing touchdowns.

* Senior WR Danny Coale has 123 career catches and needs just four more to move into second place among the Hokies' all-time leading receivers. Teammate Jarrett Boykin is the all-time leader with 133 receptions. Top Stories