PRESSURE RYAN: The Tigers will face one of the top players in the nation Saturday night in QB Matt Ryan. While not the most mobile quarterback, Ryan has one of the strongest arms in the game to go along with pinpoint accuracy. He also has the experience of winning in Death Valley before two years ago. Clemson's front four did an outstanding job last week in pressuring Wake Forest quarterback Riley Skinner, but this week will be more difficult because of three-step drops and complex protection schemes. Somehow, some way Clemson's defensive line, led by Ricky Sapp, Phillip Merling, Rashaad Jackson and Jamie Cumbie must figure out how to bother Ryan before he releases the football. That doesn't necessarily mean sacks, but they must get him out of rhythm to keep the Eagles off the scoreboard. Ryan has shown he'll turn the ball over if his team gets behind or he gets knocked around- check the seven interceptions in his last two games (both losses). Helping Clemson's chances here will be best secondary Ryan has seen all season as corners Crezdon Butler and Chris Chancellor have provided outstanding coverage all season long.
STAY SPECIAL: Over the course of the last four games the Tigers' special teams have gone from being a liability to a weapon. C.J. Spiller has return two kickoffs for touchdowns the last two games and Clemson's kick coverage units have been much-improved. K Mark Buchholz has now made his last seven field goal attempts, including a 52-yarder last week against Wake Forest. Keep in mind in the only two losses of the season against Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech it was Clemson's special teams that paved the way for the defeat. Simply put, the Tigers must maintain consistent special teams play and avoid critical mishaps and turnovers to win this game.
KEEP THE FOOT ON THE GAS: Boston College will be the best offense Clemson faces all year- which means at no point Saturday can the defense relax. Ryan led an unbelievable comeback against Virginia Tech when the Eagles trailed 10-0 with just three minutes left in the game before winning 14-10. He also made a 42-21 blowout against Maryland semi-respectable by putting up 14-fourth quarter points last weekend in College Park. The Clemson defense has been one the best units in the country this year, but there can be no let up at any point or Ryan can pull off the unthinkable. If the Tigers can build off the momentum of the past four games by getting ahead early and forcing B.C. into playing a one-dimensional game through the air, Clemson could win this game by 10 points or more. If at any point the Tigers let up, Ryan can put points on the board faster than any player the Tigers will see this year and turn a comfortable lead into a nail biter.
3 Keys to Victory
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