Quarterback Advantage: Miami
UCF’s secondary was no match for Jacory Harris as he threw for 293 yards and a touchdown. Harris was sacked six times against UCF and needs to throw the ball away more when the pocket is collapsing. First year starter Kyle Parker leads a Clemson offense that is only averaging 182 yards per game through the air.
Running Backs Advantage: Clemson
The Canes were only able to gain 70 yards on the ground against UCF. Javaris James and Damien Berry each had a touchdown in the game. The player to watch throughout the entire game was Clemson running back C.J. Spiller. Spiller is a big play threat every time he touches the ball and he has racked up over 6,000 all-purpose yards in his time at Clemson.
Wide Receiver/ Tight End Advantage: Miami
The trio of LaRon Byrd, Leonard Hankerson, and Travis Benjamin has emerged as Jacory Harris’ go-to guys. All three of them are averaging over 40 yards receiving a game and together have accounted for five touchdowns. Clemson wide receiver Jacoby Ford simply put his lighting in a bottle. The preseason first-team All-ACC receiver leads the team in all major receiving categories and is second in all-purpose yards.
Offensive Line Advantage: Clemson
Just as the Canes o-line started to receive some praise, they allow Jacory Harris to be sacked six times against UCF. The Canes o-line struggled against the quick defensive ends last week and will have to go against arguably faster defensive ends this week. They also failed to open running lanes for the running backs. Clemson’s o-line has only allowed 13 sacks on the year and has paved the way for C.J. Spiller to break off huge runs.
Defensive Line Advantage: Clemson
The d-line remains one of the biggest concerns for the Canes due to the amount of injuries this unit has suffered. Allen Bailey and Marcus Robinson have stepped up and both lead the Canes with three sacks. There may not be a more intimidating d-line than Clemson’s in the entire country. They have 17 sacks on the season and are led by starting defensive ends Da’Quan Bowers and Ricky Sapp who each have three sacks on the year.
Linebackers Advantage: Miami
Colin McCarthy, Darryl Sharpton, and Sean Spence are all respectfully one, two and three in tackles for the Canes. After a slow start to the season, sophomore Sean Spence appears to be back to his freshman All-American form as he recorded his two sacks on the season. Clemson is lead by senior linebacker Kavell Conner who has 43 tackles on the year.
Secondary Advantage: Clemson
Sophomore Brandon Harris currently ranks second in the nation in passes defended with 11. Ten of those were deflections and one was an interception. Harris has had a remarkable season but will be the second best defensive back in the game. Junior safety DeAndre McDaniel leads the ACC with five interceptions and is fourth with 50 tackles. McDaniel is the leader of the defense that has 10 interceptions on the year.
Special Teams Advantage: Clemson
Poor special teams have burnt the Canes twice this season resulting both times in opponent touchdowns. There was a blocked punt against Virginia Tech and the high snap on a punt attempt against UCF. Clemson has two of the fastest collegiate athletes on kickoff and punt return. Jacoby Ford and C.J. Spiller have career best in the 100m dash respectfully at 10.04 seconds and 10.22 seconds. The two have totaled for four touchdowns on kickoff and punt returns this season.
Coaching Advantage: Miami
Randy Shannon has led the Canes to a 5-1 record which is their best start since 2005. Shannon has kept his team motivated the past two weeks even when playing lesser opponents. He should have no problem motivating the Canes this week as they host arguably the most talented team they will see the rest of the season. First year head coach Dabo Swinney has Clemson sitting at 3-3 but needs a marquee win this season after an embarrassing home loss to Maryland to secure his job.
Matt Reed may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.