The Final Breakdown

CLEMSON - No. 15 TCU comes to town Saturday in a matchup of two of the top defensive units in the country.

QUARTERBACK: Junior Andy Dalton has put together quite the resume as a three-year starter. He's tied for third in school history with 19 career wins, eighth in winning percentage (.760), 2,200 yards from passing yards leader and second in every other major passing category. Senior Marcus Jackson is also capable under center as a running threat. With Dalton injured for two games last year, Jackson rushed for over 100 yards in both starts and finished fifth on the team with 384 rushing yards.

Clemson's signal callers are far less productive but still have plenty of potential. Kyle Parker has thrown for 523 yards and five touchdowns in his three career starts. He's show the ability to be a dual threat with 70 rushing yards. Willy Korn's series this year have been unlucky, to say the least, however assuming there's not a Thursday night at Georgia Tech-like start, he'll play too. This year, he's completed one of two passes for -1 yard and an interception. Heading into the year, Korn had completed 69.4 percent for 316 yards and two touchdowns (132.9 efficiency rating) and two touchdowns on 47 rushing yards.

Dalton's established himself as a winner and as a very capable quarterback in the Mountain West Conference. Jackson's proven himself throughout his career which he's mostly spent as a backup.


Andy Dalton, a senior and a three-year starter for TCU, gets the edge over Kyle Parker. (Getty Images)
Parker and Korn have shown flashes of ability but have yet to establish themselves as legitimate college quarterbacks, at least when compared to Texas Christian's duo.

ADVANTAGE:

RUNNING BACK: Senior tailback Joseph Turner is a Doak Walker watch-list member and has led the Horned Frogs in rushing yards for three straight years. This season he has 195 yards and is averaging 8.5 yards per carry. Last year's scout team Offensive MVP, red-shirt freshman Ed Wesley was named preseason MWC Freshman of the Year and has rushed for 76 yards this year. Freshman Matthew Tucker is second on the team with 96 rushing yards.

Heisman Trophy candidate C.J. Spiller has been limited through two of three games this year with a toe injury but has rushed for 188 yards. Meanwhile Andre Ellington leads the team with an average of 6.6 yards per carry. Jamie Harper has 108 rushing yards.

A contrasting style of runners, Turner and Spiller will be a matchup worth watching. Whoever has the most yards on Saturday could also be the winner, although Spiller adds an extra threat with his ability as a pass catcher. It's hard to find many running backs in the country that most would take over him and Turner isn't one that we'd select. Each has put together a well-rounded resume over their respective careers though. Both Clemson and Texas Christian each have a capable pair of contrasting style backs behind their feature players. Both team's duos have yet to establish themselves at the collegiate level.

ADVANTAGE:

WIDE RECEIVER/TIGHT END: Junior Jimmy Young led all Horned Frog receivers last year with 59 receptions for 988 yards and has the only two receiving touchdowns through the air this year. He's also been a big play threat, averaging 25.5 yards per catch. This year's leading receiver, junior Bart Johnson, has established himself as a solid possession receiver for the Horned Frogs with 10 catches for 102 yards this year and is well on his way to matching his career reception total (21).


Jacoby Ford's ability to create the big play, either on special teams or against TCU's secondary could be the difference between a win and a loss. (Roy Philpott)
Sophomore Antoine Hicks originally signed with Texas out of high school as a three-star wide receiver prospect by Scout.com. He played well towards the end of last year. Jeremy Kerley was rated with four stars but is more of a threat on special teams as a returner. Each has four catches this year.

Rarely this season have Texas Christian tight ends figured into the offensive equation as pass catchers. Evan Frosch and Logan Brock have the only two catches made by Horned Frog tight ends. All of Frosch's 16 career receptions have come in Texas Christian wins.

Jacoby Ford leads the Tigers this year in all major receiving categories with 14 catches, 215 yards and two touchdowns. He's also one of the team's most capable playmakers and is a threat to score whenever he touches the ball. Ford's five receptions of over 20 yards are more catches than any other Tiger receiver has. Marquan Jones is showing signs as a potential big play threat and as a compliment to Ford. All four of his catches have been for over 20 yards and he's averaging 33.5 yards per reception.

Terrance Ashe and Xavier Dye are the only other Clemson wide receivers with receptions.

Michael Palmer is a proven target at tight end with 30 career catches. This year he's fourth on the team in receiving with four catches for 37 yards. Against Georgia Tech, Dwayne Allen scored a touchdown on his first career reception.

Though both are experienced, Ford is more explosive than Young. Johnson and Jones are comparable in experience. Again, Jones is more explosive. Palmer has the work ethic and receiving ability that could be good enough to see him playing on Sundays while Allen is young and has all the tools that could put him in that category too one day in the future. What's a close push at wide receiver is tipped in favor of the orange and purple because of the tight ends.

ADVANTAGE:

OFFENSIVE LINE: Clemson and Texas Christian are about the same size on the offensive line. The Horned Frogs average in height at 6-3 and weight at 315. On average the Tigers are 6-5, 314.

Senior left tackle Marshall Newhouse has started 28 consecutive games and was named to the preseason MWC team. He's also a Lombardi Award nominee. Junior Marcus Cannon will be the biggest player on the field Saturday at 6-5, 350.

Last week, the biggest question on Clemson's line was at right tackle with Landon Walker starting in place of Cory Lambert. Chris Hairston will be a game time decision. Without him, the Tigers could be in serious trouble while trying to slow down All-American Jerry Hughes.

With Clemson's best blocker possibly out, or at best, limited, Texas Christian gets the nod.

ADVANTAGE:

DEFENSIVE LINE: Talk about either of the two team's defensive lines has to start with Hughes, who has registered 5.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks in two games this year. Junior defensive tackle Kelly Griffin is the only true freshman to have started under Gary Patterson at Texas Christian. Junior defensive end Wayne Daniels has drawn the praise of Clemson offensive tackle/tight-end coach Danny Pearman, who noted that Hughes isn't the only pass rushing threat the Tigers will face off the edge.


. The combination of Da'Quan Bowers and Ricky Sapp help give the Tigers the edge on the defensive line, but handling All-American end Jerry Hughes will be no easy task. (Roy Philpott)
Clemson's answer to Hughes comes in the form of Bamberg, S.C.-based cousins Da'Quan Bowers and Ricky Sapp. Although Sapp hasn't been as productive as Hughes has over the past four years, he's just as capable as a speed rusher. Throw in freshman Malliciah Goodman and Kevin Alexander and Clemson's group of ends outmatch Texas Christian's

The interior starters, Jarvis Jenkins and Brandon Thompson, are backed by capable contributors Miguel Chavis, Jamie Cumbie and Rennie Moore. Chances are pretty good that two of those three backups would start as Horned Frogs.

ADVANTAGE:

LINEBACKER: Out of a 4-2-5 base, Texas Christian will mainly use two linebackers on Saturday. Senior strong-side backer Daryl Washington is a big, experienced tackler who's a candidate for the Butkus Award, Nagurski Trophy and Lombardi Award. Sophomore Tank Carder is also a big tackler from the middle linebacker position. He's in his first year as a starter. Each is backed by a true freshman.

Weak-side safety Alex Ibiloye moved from corner to safety during spring practice. He's yet to face a true test from the position during his first two games against Virginia and Texas State.

Freshman All-American Brandon Maye continues has played more snaps than any other Clemson defender. He's second on the team in tackles with 26. Butkus Award Candidate Kavell Conner is third on the team with 20 tackles and he didn't even play in the opener versus Middle Tennessee. Along with Alexander and Scotty Cooper, Clemson has two capable linebackers to man the SAM position.

Both teams have two quality, established players at linebacker. As opposed to Texas Christian, Clemson has Alexander and Cooper, who can provide viable options through their experience and skill.

ADVANTAGE:

SECONDARY: Texas Christian returns three starters in its secondary this season. Strong safety Colin Jones is a former high school running back that missed the season opener against Virginia because of an injury. Free safety Tejay Johnson returns as the starter, but started at the weak safety last year. Senior corners Nick Sanders and Rafael Priest are very capable cover guys who will command respect from the Clemson offense. Sanders has made a name for himself across the MWC as a hard hitter. Both have been stalwarts, having started 41 straight games.

Behind those two are a pair of very capable players. Jason Teague is a big junior (6-2, 185) and sophomore Greg McCoy has the best chance of catching Ford or Spiller in the open field having run a 4.32 40.

Clemson corner Crezdon Butler and strong safety DeAndre McDaniel are two of the best secondary players in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Also flanking the outside is Chris Chancellor, who bounced back from the Georgia Tech game nicely in the Tiger's 25-7 win over Boston College.

Free safety Marcus Gilchrist is versatile in his own right, moving there from cornerback. Rashard Hall adds depth at safety along with Byron Maxwell at corner.

Aside from Hughes, strong safety DeAndre McDaniel might be the best defensive player on the field Saturday.

Both teams are deep, experienced and full of play makers.

ADVANTAGE:

SPECIAL TEAMS: Sophomore kicker Ross Evans is on the Lou Groza Award watch list and Kerley is Preseason MWC Special Teams Player of the Year. Punter Anson Kelton is 6-4, 260. Last year, 55 percent of his punts were downed inside the 20.

Clemson kicker Richard Jackson has bounced back from the depths of a massive hole that he dug years ago and has emerged as one of the ACC's best. Last week, he connected on six field goals and he's now 11-13 on the year.

Clemson also features Spiller and Ford, who have both made names for themselves on the national level as top-flight return men.

With Clemson's home field advantage and the dual threat in the return game, the Tigers get the edge.

ADVANTAGE:

HALE'S PREDICTION: Clemson 20 Texas Christian 16

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