5 Keys To Downing The Wahoos

Clemson travels to Charlottesville, Virginia to try and shake off the cobwebs of the disappointing loss to Florida State last Thursday night. With many of the goals of this year's team still a big possibility, Clemson desperately needs to take care of business and defeat Virginia.

Here are my 5 keys to the Tigers doing just that.

Pressure Schaub
The Virginia quarterback has quietly put together some solid numbers in the first six games for the Cavaliers. Schaub does not process the arm strength that scares defensive coordinators, but his accuracy and smart decision-making are similar to Philip Rivers of NC State.

The Clemson defensive line has consistently brought pressure on all of the previous 5 opponents thus far, and the same needs to be done Saturday. Schaub is not the most mobile of quarterbacks, and knocking him to the ground will go a long way in keeping him off his rhythm.

Shadow McMullen
If there is one player on the Virginia roster that could start for any team in America, it would be Billy McMullen. In addition to his tall 6-4 frame, McMullen catches everything that is thrown in his area. McMullen can single handedly control the game, and he has proven to be able to do that against quality defenses throughout his 4 years in Charlottesville.

The task of slowing him certainly starts with the Clemson corners. Brian Mance, Kevin Johnson, and Justin Miller will have their hands full, and keep McMullen in front of them at all times will be a huge priority. Shutting down McMullen is not in the cards, but not allowing McMullen to take over the game with big plays will be critical to the Tigers success.

Control The Clock Via The Run
Virginia's rush defense, to say the least, is not very good. Clemson has shown signs throughout each of the 5 games played thus far that they have the potential to control the game on the ground. Saturday afternoon will finally be a good opportunity for the Tigers to beat down a team with the running game.

Bernard Rambert and Yusef Kelly will get plenty of touches Saturday, and getting both running backs over 100 yards is a goal that very well could be accomplished. Don't forget, Kelton Dunnigan and Raymond Priester pulled off the same double 100 yards trick in Charlottesville.

Don't Shoot Yourself In The Foot
Clemson seems pretty good at beating teams…including itself. The two losses the Tigers have suffered were mostly by self-inflicted wounds. Turnovers and special teams lapses were the root of the evil against Georgia and Florida State, and the Cavaliers are good enough to capitalize on those mistakes (see South Carolina game).

Winning the turnover battle is key to every game, and it will be again Saturday. If the Tigers can avoid self-destructing, a win in Charlottesville is very probable because the Tigers are a more talented football team.

I really don't expect it to be an issue, but the players need to come into Charlottesville in the right frame of mind. A hangover from the Florida State game would be understandable, but it also could spell disaster. With the ACC Championship still an attainable goal, not giving up on the season at this point is crucial.

Virginia is not as good of a football team as the Tigers, but the Cavs are more than capable of beating Clemson Saturday afternoon. A win would go along way in helping reenergize the season and ACC Championship goals, but a loss would be as demoralizing as the loss to this same Virginia team a year ago.

My huntch is that the Tigers will be ready to play Saturday. I think the Tigers will be able to run the football, which will eat up the clock and set up the big plays in the passing game. If the Tigers win the turnover battle, they should easily leave Charlottsville 4-2.

Rhymer's Prediction
Clemson 27…Virginia 13

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