The final breakdown

CLEMSON - Can the Tigers continue their strong play against the Demon Deacons at No. 10 Miami?

QUARTERBACK: After sharing time as the starting quarter as a true freshman last year, Jacory Harris has done well as Miami's full-time starter so far this year. Through six games this year he's been one of the most efficient passers in the country. His 157 rating is eighth best in the country.

This year, he's thrown for 1,518 yards, 11 touchdowns and has completed 65 percent of his passes. He's thrown for over 200 yards in every game but the Hurricane's 31-7 loss at Virginia Tech.

Harris' height allows for him to stand tall in the pocket while looking downfield. It's well-documented how cool, calm and collected he's been in the face of pressure.

Clemson quarterback Kyle Parker struggled to complete 50 percent of his passes through the first four games this year, but has done so in a 38-3 win over Wake Forest and a 24-21 loss at Maryland.

Jacory Harris has been one of the more impressive quarterbacks in the nation this season as the 'Canes get the edge over Kyle Parker and the Tigers. (Getty Images)
This year, he's thrown for 1,027 yards, six touchdowns and has completed 50 percent of his passes. In the last three Clemson games, Parker has thrown just one interception in 91 attempts.

Parker's arm strength is by far his biggest tool. He moves well in the pocket but mainly looks to run while scrambling.

Although Parker has shown signs of improvement, Harris has a strong arm too. His experience and skill sets are a little further along at this point.


RUNNING BACKS: Like C.J. Spiller, rarely is Miami running back Javarris James tackled for loss. This year, James has rushed for 362 yards and four touchdowns. His 60 rushing yards per game is 81st in the nation.

James was the primary starter for the Hurricanes in his freshman and sophomore years. Coming into his senior year, he's rushed for over 1,600 yards.

James' backups Damien Berry and Graig Cooper have both rushed for over 200 yards this year. They have two and one touchdown, respectively. Berry averages nearly 8 yards per carry. Cooper has led the Hurricanes in rushing the past two years.

Cooper's injured hip remains a concern.

Spiller is the Tiger's leading rusher with 486 yards and three touchdowns this year. His 78 yards per game is 51st best in the nation.

Jacory Harris has been one of the more impressive quarterbacks in the nation this season as the 'Canes get the edge over Kyle Parker and the Tigers. (Getty Images)
Spiller's backups, Andre Ellington and Jamie Harper, have rushed for 181 and 120 yards, respectively. Ellington averages nearly 6.7 yards per carry.

As a team, Miami is the 86th best rushing team in the nation (126 yards per game), meanwhile Clemson has the 60th best rushing team in the country at 145 yards per game.

After giving Wake Forest the upper hand last week, doubting the Clemson backfield won't happen again as long as Spiller's around.


WIDE RECEIVERS: Miami's big play capability at wide receiver has been a cause for concern for Clemson coaches this week.

The 6-4 LaRon Byrd leads the Hurricanes with 18 receptions and averages 14.3 yards per catch. The 6-3 Leonard Hankerson averages 19.5 yards per reception. Travis Benjamin averages 18.7 yards per reception. Each of the three has at least 15 receptions this year. Benjamin and Hankerson have two touchdown catches.

At tight end, the 6-8 Jimmy Graham is the biggest red zone threat for the Hurricanes. Three of his receptions have been touchdowns.

Last Saturday, Clemson fans caught a glimpse of what the Tiger offense looks like when passes aren't dropped on critical downs and during critical situations.

Tight end Michael Palmer continues to be the second threat behind Jacoby Ford. Palmer four catches for 49 yards and a touchdown against Wake Forest. His touchdown came in the red zone to put an end to Clemson's opening drive. Since the Boston College game, Palmer has made at least three catches a game.

At tight end, the 6-8 Jimmy Graham is the biggest red zone threat for the Hurricanes as three of his receptions have been touchdowns this season. (Getty Images)
Ford, the team's top receiver, continues as one of the nation's top deep threats, as evidence by his 51-yard reception against Wake Forest. Ford's 60 receiving yards a game is 88th best in the nation. He also showed off his arm by completing a 32-yard pass downfield to Xavier Dye, who continues to emerge as a threat.

Clemson's passing offense is 96th best in the nation, averaging 182 yards per game. The Miami passing offense is much higher at 28, averaging 259 yards per game.

Miami's height and allows for the Hurricanes to stretch the field from just about anywhere. The big, reliable targets make Harris' job a lot much easier.


OFFENSIVE LINE: Jason Fox and Matt Pipho lead a banged up Miami offensive line that could struggle in the face of the quality group that Clemson substitutes in and out in the early phases of the game.

Guard Joel Figueroa has been injured with a lower extremity injury. He's expected to play on Saturday. The Hurricane's starting five played almost the entire game against Central Florida, but the Hurricanes have only six reliable players in their rotation.

After a little reshuffling during the bye week, Clemson's offensive line gave up just one sack with Parker playing quarterback and three with Willy Korn under center last Saturday.

Dalton Freeman had considerable experience through the first five games at center before starting against Wake Forest. He split time with Mason Cloy, who provides depth at guard. Cloy is expected to step in for Thomas Austin as the starter at left guard next year. Landon Walker and David Smith are growing into a pair of quality right tackles.

The line has steadily improved in both pass protection and in run blocking after going through a few rough patches early on this year.

Clemson's offensive line gives up a half sack per game than Miami. The Tigers didn't give up a sack to Texas Christian. The Horned Frogs average over three a game, sixth best in the nation.


DEFENSIVE LINE: Defensive lineman Allen Bailey is a capable from both end and tackle. He and Marcus Robinson lead Miami with three sacks a piece. Robinson has 4.5 tackles for loss this year.

Da'Quan Bowers has seen increased production the last three weeks and is now asserting himself as one of the top defensive linemen in the ACC. (Getty Images)
End Eric Moncur is listed as probable but he's still nicked with an injured lower extremity injury.

Da'Quan Bowers is emerging as one of the more dominating defensive ends in the ACC. After two solid outings against Maryland and Wake Forest, he's tied with Ricky Sapp for the team lead in sacks (three) and tackles for loss (eight). Malliciah Goodman has two sacks in almost half the number of snaps as Bowers and Sapp. Throw in a productive Andre Branch and part-timer Kevin Alexander, Clemson's defensive ends better than any unit in the conference, and are making themselves worthy of being discussed among the best in the country.

Jarvis Jenkins and Brandon Thompson are spelled by three very capable tackles in Jamie Cumbie, Rennie Moore and Miguel Chavis.

Miami is 61st in the nation in yards allowed on the ground per game at 133.5 per contest. Clemson is 45th at 122.33.


LINEBACKER: Miami's linebacking core of Colin McCarthy, Sean Spence and Darryl Sharpton is as good as any in the conference, including Clemson's. They respectively lead the Hurricanes in tackles this year: 38, 36 and 34. Spence, who is the best of the three, leads the team with 5.5 tackles for loss. He was named the ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year last year.

Clemson coaches and players speak highly of their speed and swarming mentality.

Clemson's Freshman All-American Brandon Maye continues to lead the Tiger core from his MIKE spot in the middle. Maye is flanked on the weak-side by Kavell Conner, who leads the Clemson defense on tackles per play.

Miami's speed gives the Hurricanes the edge.


DEFENSIVE BACK: Miami safety Randy Phillips hasn't played since tearing his labrum at Virginia Tech. He missed last week's game against Central Florida because of the flu.

Miami's secondary has managed just two interceptions this year. The pass defense is 22nd best in the country right now--the numbers include almost 400 yards from Florida State's Christian Ponder and 300 yards to Central Florida.

DeAndre McDaniel's move back to his natural position of strong safety is a move that has paid huge dividends halfway through this year. He leads the team with 46 tackles and is among the top five in the country in interceptions (five).

Crezdon Butler has been a consistent part of the Clemson secondary lately but has had trouble pulling down an interception this year. The problem is he's not getting anything thrown his way. Rashard Hall is a tackling machine who allows for free safety Marcus Gilchrist to go man up in coverage as a corner in three wide situations.

Chris Chancellor's size brings up questions about his ability to consistently cover bigger receivers, and Miami has plenty.


SPECIAL TEAMS: Ford and Spiller are the most explosive return combination in the country. Their speed is unmatched by any players in college football today. Combined with place kicker Richard Jackson, who is tops in the ACC and second in the country in field goals, the Tigers have the edge on special teams.


HALE'S PREDICTION: Miami 27 Clemson 20 Top Stories