The Final Breakdown

No. 7 Clemson looks to win at least 10 games for the third consecutive season with a victory Saturday over The Citadel.

WHAT: No. 7 Clemson vs. The Citadel
WHERE: Memorial Stadium - Clemson, S.C.
WHEN: Saturday, Nov. 23 (12 p.m.)
SPREAD: Clemson by 40

Brent Venables has had the distinct pleasure of preparing for the triple-option for the last two game weeks. Fortunately, for him, the hard part is out of the way.

Clemson's defense showed against Georgia Tech that it has what it takes to defend the service academy offense this season. (Getty Images)
Clemson's defense showed against Georgia Tech that it has what it takes to defend the service academy offense this season. And that, for the most part, is patience.

The defensive tackles have to hit the dive man every time. And they did against the Yellow Jackets. Grady Jarrett, Josh Watson, Deshawn Williams and D.J. Reader were strong the other night, pretty much like they've been just about every game this season.

The defenders assigned to the quarterback stayed on the quarterback just about every time -- Vad Lee had just 22 yards rushing. And those assigned to the pitch man did so way more often than not, but Robert Godhigh did get loose a couple of times.

Assignment football is back this week when The Citadel heads up to Clemson for the Tigers' home finale.

Through 11 games, the Bulldogs average 5.4 yards per rush. They've eclipsed the 250-yard mark eight times.

Quarterback Ben Dupree leads the team in rushing with 939 yards and 18 touchdowns. Running back Darien Robinson is second with 921 yards and seven touchdowns.

Vinny Miller and Dalton Trevino have rushed for 352 and 224 yards, respectively. Both have a pair of touchdowns.

But all of that work has been against FCS opponents.

It won't be a complete walk in the park. The Citadel is fourth among FCS teams in rushing with 282.1 yards per game. But it's a matchup that Clemson certainly should win.


The theme here is the same as what we wrote here last week. Pass plays for The Citadel are the equivalent to a trick/gadget play.

Darius Robinson will play his last game in the Clemson secondary Saturday. (Getty Images)
Dupree has completed 40 of 74 passes for 578 yards and three touchdowns and an interception for an efficiency rating of 130.3.

Matt Thompson is the top wide receiver. He's caught 15 passes for 135 yards. Robinson is the biggest threat out of the backfield. He's caught 14 passes for 183 yards with two scores.

As a team, the Bulldogs average 13.1 yards per reception.

When it comes to sacking the quarterback, it will probably be another slow week for Vic Beasley. The Citadel has only given up 7.5 all season. That, of course, is a result of the offensive philosophy. The Bulldogs have thrown the ball 20 more times in a game three times all season.

Dupree will struggle when he is called upon to throw the ball. Just look at Lee's production from the other night. He completed 13 of 23 throws for 165 yards with an interception. His QBR, according to ESPN, was 28.4.

The Citadel won't have a ton of success through the air. That's just not how they're built to win.


If there's a matchup in this game that might give Clemson some trouble it's this one. The Citadel gave up more than 200 yards rushing just twice this season, and that was to two triple-option teams -- Wofford and Georgia Southern.

Roderick McDowell has been instrumental in Clemson's rushing attack this season. (Roy Philpott)
In their last three games, the Bulldogs held Samford, VMI and Elon to 65, 67 and 92 rushing yards, respectively. The three teams also combined to score just one touchdown.

Given the state of Tajh Boyd's health, one would have to think that he won't have a big role in the Clemson run game. Then again, he may not have that big of a role in the passing game either. In the interest of keeping the franchise healthy, Boyd may not play a whole lot on Saturday.

How much Roderick McDowell plays is up for debate, too. He's been the best running back at Clemson all season. But is it worth running him upwards of 15 times a week before the South Carolina game?

Probably not.

It could be a big afternoon for D.J. Howard, who's fourth on the team with 191 yards rushing. Coming off a shoulder injury, Zac Brooks played a few snaps against Georgia Tech, but didn't record a carry. He'll run the ball some this week. How much? Probably not a whole lot.

We'll step out on a limb and make this prediction: Chad Kelly leads the team in rushing.


It's likely to be a productive afternoon for Cole Stoudt. While we fully expect Tajh Boyd to play, he may not see that much action after banging up his left shoulder against Georgia Tech.

Could Clemson WR Daniel Rodriguez score his first career touchdown on Military Appreciation Day? (Roy Philpott)
That's fine. Clemson doesn't need Boyd to throw a single pass in order to win.

Heck, the same could probably be said for Stoudt, who's thrown for 351 yards this season.

While they're in the game, Sammy Watkins and Martavis Bryant could be in store for big afternoons against The Citadel's secondary, which is a respectable group on the FCS level, ranking 36th in total passing yards allowed.

Whoever's at quarterback for Clemson should have time to throw as The Citadel is tied for 74th among FCS teams with 1.82 sacks per game.

There's a big edge here to Clemson. The big question is how much do Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins actually play in their final home game. And also, will Clemson find a way to get Daniel Rodriguez, a Purple Heart recipient, into the end zone on Military Appreciation Day?


Clemson's Chandler Catanzaro could very well be the top kicker in school history. (Roy Philpott)
For The Citadel, DeAndre Schoultz averages 6.4 yards per punt return. On kickoffs, Terrance Martin averages 25.7 yards per return.

Thomas Warren, who handles place kicking duties, is 6 of 10 this season. Eric Goins punts and kicks off. He averages 40.8 yards per punt and has placed 10 of his 51 kickoffs for touchbacks.

For Clemson's Chandler Catanzaro, Saturday's game continues an incredible journey that has seen him convert 35 of his last 37 field goal attempts. He very well could go down as one of the top kickers in Clemson history.

The Tigers could also use more consistency with their kickoffs and in the return game, however the edge goes to Clemoson here.


PREDICTION: Clemson 49 The Citadel 10 Top Stories