And with an "L" already in the win-loss column this year, the Hurricanes can ill-afford another one if they want to make a run at a national championship.
However, head coach Larry Coker reminded the media Tuesday that his team lost two games in the ACC last season, and still had a chance to win the conference.
"This is a game we need to win, but is it do or die, I wouldn't say that," Coker said.
With the struggles along the offensive line - allowing nine sacks against FSU - there will be at least one new starter in the lineup for Miami this weekend against the Tigers.
Senior Tony Tella will start at right guard in place of Andrew Bain.
"They told me on Tuesday after the game that I will be starting," Tella said.
Against FSU, Tella played sparingly in the fourth quarter after recovering from a high ankle sprain. According to Tella he was at about "90-95 percent" for the Florida State game, but feels "100 percent" now.
All of the other linemen are expected to remain the same as well as the rest of the starting lineup against Florida State.
"We have to play better with the guys we have," Coker said. "If you play the same people every day, you learn how they play with one another. "Sometimes you get into some problems when you move guys around."
With the ACL injury to Anthony Reddick, Kenny Phillips is expected to start at free safety and Brandon Meriweather, who suffered a hamstring injury in August, appears to be the starting strong safety in place of Greg Threat.
Meriweather, Willie Williams, Derron Thomas, Charlie Jones, Eric Moncur, and Calais Campbell are players Coker wants to get more playing time.
"We should have rested Tyrone Moss more in the first half," Coker said. "We made a mistake on that and we should have played our young running backs more."
Clemson features a new offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach this year, Rob Spence, who was the offensive coordinator at Toledo from 2001-04. Last year Toledo averaged 474 yards per game under Spence.
"They have a different offensively philosophy," Coker said. "They are putting their quarterback in a situation to get rid of the ball quickly and they are protecting well for him."
Clemson senior quarterback Charlie Whitehurst has completed 32-of-41 passes (78 percent) for 363 yards, two touchdowns, and zero interceptions.
"He is doing what they need him to do to win the game," Coker said.
Coker also said that he is aware of the reputation of playing a road game at Clemson, but that the crowd itself is not necessarily a concern for his football team.
"We handled the crowd well at Florida State," said Coker, who has not yet been to Clemson. "We aren't going to give the game to the crowd. They aren't going to be making tackles out there. If they win, it will be because their team played better."
Miami has not lost two straight games to start the season since 1978. Despite that possibility, it is not something Coker and the team talk about.
"We don't talk about losing around here," Coker said. "We aren't going to be intimidated by Clemson."
Regardless if Coker considers the game to be a do-or-die situation, it is. Unless another three-loss season is something expected from this team.
"We have to be more focused on the job we have to do and that is my job, " Coker said.
Coker: Canes Won't be Intimidated
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