Keys to the Game and Matchups to Watch: Clemson

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The first big conference road test awaits Virginia Tech as the Hokies travel
to Death Valley to face the 22nd ranked Clemson Tigers. Many offensive questions
still exist for Virginia Tech after a lackluster performance against a very
young, but talented North Carolina Tar Heel team, but even more questions may
exist for a Clemson offense that only managed three points against Georgia Tech.
Basically, this game pits two inconsistent offenses against two talented and
experienced defenses, so I would not expect a lot of scoring in this game.

This game certainly looks like a defensive struggle, so the usual key factors
of field position and turnovers will be magnified even more in this contest.
Both teams like to control the ball and control field position, so the team that
can have the advantage in these aspects will certainly have a greater chance of
winning. However, both teams also have some big-play talent that can change a
game on one play, so limiting the big play will also be a key factor for each
defense.

So, how will each of these teams look to control the ball and establish field
position?

Keys to the Game

When Virginia Tech has the Ball:

1. Establish the Run Up the Middle

Last
year the Hokies shocked the football nation by dominating the game on the ground
behind a 200+ yard effort by Branden Ore. Tech fans certainly would like to see
Ore break out again, and the offensive line showed signs of improvement last
week, particularly in the first quarter. The Hokies showed an effective inside
zone running game against UNC, and Tech will certainly test the Tigers inside in
this game.

One reason that Virginia Tech was more effective running inside last year
against Clemson was that the Tigers seldom blitz. Relative to most Hokie
opponents, Clemson blitzes much less and tends to stay in a base 4-3 defense.
When facing Tech’s rushing attack, most teams run-blitz to fill all of the gaps,
but the Tigers

...