You don't have to be John Heisman to figure out handling All-American defensive end Jerry Hughes is one of the biggest keys to a Clemson victory Saturday. A one-man wrecking crew, Hughes presents a myriad of problems for Clemson's banged up offensive line and is coming of a game in which he recorded three sacks by himself. 90 percent of the time he'll line up against the right tackle, which means Landon Walker will have to play out of his mind to keep him off of Kyle Parker.
If he's healthy enough to play, don't be surprised if Chris Hairston provides help on that side, again, provided his knee holds up. The Tigers will also use tight ends Michael Palmer and Dwayne Allen for additional help when needed.
But if that doesn't work and Hughes sets up shop all afternoon in Clemson's backfield, it could be a long game. Simply put, he's the best defensive player Clemson will see inside Death Valley this season.
With two outstanding defenses taking the field Saturday, the outcome could come down to a big play on offense or special teams. And with homerun threats C.J. Spiller and Jacoby Ford returning punts and kicks the Tigers have the ability to score in any special teams situation Saturday- and they just may need to given TCU's potential on defense. Simply put, Richard Jackson needs to continue his high level of play as Clemson's kicker (11-of-13 through three games) and Clemson's return game needs to remain electric to help provide good field position, or more importantly points for the offense.
MANAGE THE GAME
Through three games this year, Kyle Parker has experienced the ups and downs you would expect for a first-year starter at quarterback. And nowhere was that evident more than last week's 25-7 win over Boston College when he threw two interceptions in first five passing attempts and ultimately changed the way coaching staff called the game.
Saturday against TCU, Parker can't stare down his receivers and he must avoid the costly turnover at all costs.
He also must make better decisions when given the option to run versus taking a chance downfield. Too many times in the first three games he's been presented the opportunity to run, when instead he's taken a chance with a risky pass deep downfield.
3 keys to victory
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