Tigers Have Much to Prove Against Tech

CLEMSON – A lot has been made of the somewhat easy road Clemson has had to achieving hits 7-1 record and No. 10 ranking, but all the critics won't be able to use that excuse after the Tigers mix it up at Virginia Tech Thursday night.

Those on the Clemson coaching staff honestly believe that the Hokies have the best all-around collection of talent that the Tigers will have faced to date.

Making it that much tougher on Clemson is the fact that it's a Thursday night game in Blacksburg. Virginia Tech is 12-2 all-time at home on Thursday night games televised on ESPN.

That aside, it's the level of talent that worries those like Clemson defensive coordinator Vic Koenning.

The problem with the Hokies is that they don't have just one player that stands out. They distribute the ball evenly to a group of five receivers that are pretty darn good.

"I think it's pretty obvious to everyone that it's a lot more difficult for us when they spread it around," Koenning said. "We just went after (Georgia Tech's Calvin Johnson) and said the other guys have to get us.

"You look at Virginia Tech, they've got a great running back and I've counted five receivers that I've just dropped my jaw in seeing some of the plays they've made."

The unique problem in facing the Hokies is that they can run the ball and throw deep. Tailback Breanden Ore has rushed for 736 yards and scored nine touchdowns, while four receivers have at least 245 yards receiving.

It is the most completely balanced team Clemson has faced all season.

"There's a lot of concern on how we can stop the run and hang in there with their receivers and their down-the-field passing game," Koenning said. "It's really a challenge, you can't reinvent the wheel. You've got to say, here's what we've got and go execute."

As coaches do, Koenning has sang the praises of every opponent he's faced this year, yet the Clemson defense has managed to shut the opposing offense down. Some of that is the level of talent the Tigers have played and the other part is the level of talent on the Clemson defense.

Many expect the defense of the Tigers to continue their way and limit the production of the Virginia Tech offense. If that happens, Koenning, for one, will be thoroughly impressed.

"I've been hesitant to sing the praises of our defense," Koenning said. "We're a workman-like group and I think we're getting better every week and I think we haven't seen the best out of any of our players on defense.

"I think they've all got more to give and can do a lot better. But if we're able to maintain what we've been able to do against these guys then I'll be the first one to say, by gosh, we've got something. I'll be the first to sing their praises."

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