QUARTERBACK – UM
Brock Berlin is in a rhythm with his receivers, having thrown for 1,111 yards and 13 touchdowns in the last four games. Berlin has taken some big hits in the last two games but he seems more comfortable in the pocket and is avoiding sacks.
Charlie Whitehurst seemed like the hands down pick as the ACC’s best quarterback entering this season, but Clemson’s all-time leader in passing yards has looked average so far. He has thrown 13 interceptions and less than 200 yards per game.
RUNNING BACK – Even
Frank Gore and Tyrone Moss struggled mightily against the “vaunted” Tar Heels defense last week. They must run for more than 57 yards combined if the ‘Canes hope to win this weekend. Neither has shown the speed to break the big play, but the offensive line’s blocking hasn’t helped much.
Reggie Merriweather leads Clemson’s rushing attack with 5.1 yards per carry. Merriweather only averages 44.4 yards a game but against the Miami defense he could have a career day. Duane Coleman led Clemson in rushing last season and could run all over the defense too.
WIDE RECEIVE – even
Lance Leggett and Roscoe Parrish both caught touchdowns against UNC and they are emerging as Berlin’s go-to guys. On the not so bright side, freshman tight end Greg Olson, known for his good hands, dropped three integral passes last week but in fairness he hurt his wrist.
Airese Currie leads the ACC in catches and receiving yards this season. The Tigers also have two dangerous receivers in Chansi Stuckey and Kelvin Grant and tight end Ben Hall averages 16.9 yards a catch. Stuckey may not play because of an ankle injury.
OFFENSIVE LINE – Clemson
These guys have stopped the sack parade on UM’s quarterbacks but without injured left tackle Eric Winston and right guard Tyler McMeans, the run blocking is atrocious. Chris Myers needs to lead this group and give the running backs some room.
Left tackle Barry Richardson is a true freshman but is probably the Tigers’ best offensive lineman already. Richardson is a 6-7, 350 pound behemoth who has not allowed a sack in 18 quarters. Clemson’s offensive line should have fun against a Miami defense that can’t shed blocks.
DEFENSIVE LINE – Clemson
This group didn’t stop a thing last week as UNC racked up 279 rushing yards with its third-string running back. Kareem Brown has lost the starting tackle spot and end Baraka Atkins will move over to replace him. Bryan Pata will start at end.
In Clemson’s last three games, all wins, it has held opponents to an average of just 63 yards on the ground. Defensive end Charles Bennett leads the defensive line in tackling to go with three sacks.
LINEBACKERS – Clemson
The ‘Canes miss Jon Vilma and D.J. Williams more than they thought they would. Leon Williams has struggled to meet expectations and will start this game on the bench. Rocky McIntosh will move from the strong side to the middle and Jon Beason will man the strong side.
Leroy Hill, a Butkus Award candidate and first team All-ACC linebacker, leads the Tigers in tackles and has a team-high eight sacks. Hill is the senior leader of this defense and the offensive line will have to keep him out of the backfield.
SECONDARY – Tie
Safety Greg Threat made 17 tackles for the second time this season but that is not good because it means that the defense is made of funky smelling Swiss cheese. This secondary looks susceptible, giving up 266 yards through the air last week and Clemson will surely test them.
Justin Miller is only a junior but the cornerback has started since his freshman year and has three interceptions this season to run his career total to 10. Rover Jamaal Fudge also has three picks on the year and he is a blitzing threat with two sacks.
SPECIAL TEAMS – UM
Devin Hester can’t return the ball if teams don’t kick it to him and that makes this team a lot less dangerous. Kicker Jon Peattie missed another 50-plus-yard field goal last week making him 0-for-3 from that range on the season. He is just above 50 percent on field goals this season.
Miller is the second most dangerous kick and punt returner in the ACC behind Hester. He has returned two kicks and a punt for touchdowns this season. Kicker Jad Dean is a perfect six-for-six on field goals this year with a long of 47 yards.