The Hokies have their hands full as they host the defending champions in arguably the biggest game for the program since 2000.
The Clemson Tigers are good. Really good. But can they come into Lane Stadium on a Saturday night and escape with a win?
Both the Hokies and Tigers have College Football Playoff aspirations, and a win on Saturday would put either team on the fast track.
The Hokies are a touchdown underdog at home, which is to be expected against a power like Clemson, but to say the Hokies don’t have a shot would be foolish. There aren’t many teams playing better than the Hokies right now, and they have the tools to upset the Tigers in Blacksburg.
3 Keys to Victory
Turn Kelly Bryant into a passer
Stepping in for DeShaun Watson after a national championship win was junior Kelly Bryant. Clemson has used Bryant heavily in the run game, with the junior running around 20 times in each of the last three games. He might even be a better runner than Watson, which is no easy feat.
Bryant is also no slouch throwing the ball, but if the Hokies are to pull this one out, they have to turn him into a quarterback. Clemson’s run game all around has been dominant, so stacking the box and having our corners go against their receivers might be the best course of action.
Protect Josh Jackson
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After playing the FBS leader in sacks last week, the Hokies now face the number two team. Despite question marks on the Hokies’ offensive line early in the season, they have only given up four sacks on the year.
With that being said, the Hokies have seen nothing like this front seven this season. There is early round draft talent at almost every position. The challenge for the offense will be giving Jackson enough time to throw against the Tiger secondary.
The Hokies may try to run early, but in all honesty, it just isn’t likely to happen. The Hokies will have to give Jackson time to challenge an untested secondary.
Hurt Clemson with Jackson’s legs
When looking for the blueprint to be successful against the Clemson defense, there isn’t much to find. Only one team was able to break double digits. That team just happened to have last year’s Heisman Trophy winner in Lamar Jackson.
While Josh Jackson is not quite on Lamar’s level, there may be an opportunity for the Hokie QB to mimic the limited success Lamar Jackson had. Lining up and just trying to beat Clemson with X’s and O’s might be a lost cause, but on film, it appeared that the running QB could give the Tigers trouble.
Some misdirection and designed QB delay and draw runs might be just what the doctor ordered.