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Clemson Football

The Last Look: #2 Clemson vs Wake Forest

October 7, 2017
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The 4-1 Wake Forest Demon Deacons are traveling to Death Valley on Homecoming weekend to take on the undefeated Clemson Tigers.

Here are a few final things to look for during the game this afternoon:


Clemson fans will “wake up” against Wake Forest.

During the second half of Clemson’s last home game against Boston College, Clemson fans began to disappear.

The game was no blowout, but actually, a tie game heading into the fourth quarter. The student section, in particular, looked empty.

The student body has been very adamant about the student ticketing process and how they want the distribution changed, highlighted by a petition that accumulated more than 10,000 signatures. Clemson students also want to remain one of the only schools in the country that does not make its students pay for tickets.

This week, head coach Dabo Swinney low-key called out the student body and the rest of Tiger nation.

“We need to wake up and show up and be ready to go, and that’s the football team, that’s our fans, that’s Tiger Walk, that’s everything,” Swinney said Tuesday. “That’s our students — we need a national championship environment this weekend. Anything less than that, then we’re not putting our best foot forward.”

Ouch.

Now that Clemson fans have heard the words from their head coach don’t expect the atmosphere to be a letdown even with the noon kickoff. Fans will stay the entire game unless it’s a blowout. Expect Death Valley to be as loud as it usually is on this homecoming weekend.


The Deacon defense is no joke.

Your first reaction to hearing “Wake Forest” is a yawn, but this team has grown tremendously starting on the defensive side of the ball.

They are second in the ACC in scoring defense, allowing 14.4 points per game. They also give opposing quarterbacks a hard time on a weekly basis. Their pass efficiency defense is 97.5, which is actually ahead of Clemson’s 101.8.

Wake Forest leads the nation in tackles for loss and had 17 against Florida State last weekend.

What those numbers mean is that the Demon Deacon defense is not going to give you this game. The Tigers will have to earn it, and it starts up front.

Duke Ejiofor is a mammoth up front and has caused problems for opposing offensive lines all season. The 6-4, 275-pound senior, has 10.5 tackles for loss, which is second in the country.  He is the player to watch in this game after Harold Landry from Boston College caused some problems up front a couple of weeks ago in Death Valley.


Clemson is scoring in the red zone.

Kelly Bryant and the Clemson offense have done a remarkable job this season of taking care of the football.

Taking care of the football leads to sustained drives that can wear a defense down. Once Clemson has gotten inside the 20-yard line, the Tigers have hardly come up empty.

Last year in games against NC State and Pittsburgh at home, the Tigers had five turnovers combined in the red zone. Clemson was lucky to escape NC State with a win, but the good fortune finally ran dry after a Deshaun Watson interception late against Pittsburgh leading to a Panther victory.

Clemson has done a much better job of protecting the ball this season in the red zone.  The Tigers have scored 14 touchdowns on 17 red zone attempts this season and have come away with points on 16 of them.

Not forcing throws on offense has been a key on offense this season. When Bryant goes through his progressions, and no one is open, he’ll tuck the ball and get up field.

Look for the red zone scoring trend to continue this weekend once the Tigers get the ball inside the 20.

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With that said, the Tigers should be able to win this game fairly handily. Wake Forest has been relatively stagnant on offense, and Clemson’s depth on defense should be able to keep Wake Forest from scoring more than 14 points and hold the offense to less than 100 yards rushing.

The Tigers may come out slow against the Demon Deacons but should wear them down as the game goes on just as they did against Boston College.

The talent and the depth that Clemson has will be too much for Wake Forest to overcome. The Tigers win 31-14 on homecoming weekend.

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