FACTS & STATS: Site: Memorial Stadium (81,500) — Clemson, South Carolina.
Television: ESPNU. Home Record: UNC 2-0, Clemson 1-0. Away Record: UNC 0-1,
Clemson 0-2. Neutral Record: UNC 0-0, Clemson 0-0. Conference Record: UNC 0-0,
Clemson 0-1. Series Record: Clemson leads, 35-19-1.
GAME NOTES: The Clemson Tigers return home after a missed opportunity and
attempt to right the ship when they take on the North Carolina Tar Heels in an
ACC matchup in Death Valley this weekend.
Dabo Swinney’s Tigers had the defending national champions on the ropes in
Tallahassee last weekend, but failed to end the nation’s longest winning
streak in a 23-17 overtime affair. With the loss to Florida State, Clemson is
now a disappointing 1-2 on the season, with a loss to Georgia in the season
opener (45-21) and a win over South Carolina State (73-7) accounting for the
Larry Fedora’s Tar Heels are opening their ACC slate this weekend. North
Carolina began the year with a pair of home victories over Liberty (56-29) and
San Diego State (31-27), but were dealt a harsh blow last weekend in an
instate matchup with East Carolina, falling in Greenville, 70-41.
Clemson holds a 35-19-1 all-time advantage in the series with North Carolina,
including a 17-7 mark in Death Valley. UNC’s last win at Clemson came back in
It was a feverish pace against East Carolina, one that UNC was unable to
maintain in the end. Quarterback Marquise Williams struggled and was replaced
by Mitch Trubisky. Williams is once again listed at the top of the depth
chart for this contest. It’s not as if the Tar Heels haven’t had success
offensively. The team is averaging 42.7 ppg this year and doing so on 425.3
yards of total offense.
A dual-threat QB, Williams has completed 63.9 percent of his passes this
season, but for only 551 yards and four TDs, while pacing the team on the
ground as well with 152 yards and two more scores.
When UNC does decide to pass the ball, sophomore wideouts Ryan Switzer (16
rec, 115 yds) and Bug Howard (11 rec, 89 yds, 1 TD) have seen the most
targets, although fellow sophomore Mack Hollins has been the most explosive
with eight receptions, for 242 yards and two TDs thus far.
To say that UNC was not at its defensive best last time out would be a huge
understatement, as East Carolina set a school record with 789 yards of total
offense. That has been a problem on the year, as North Carolina is now
allowing a generous 42.0 ppg (117th nationally) on 548.0 yards of total
offense (123rd nationally).
The team has recorded 10 takeaways in the first three games, but a lack of a
pass rush has been problematic with only four sacks. It certainly cost the
team against ECU’s Shane Carden last week.
Junior linebacker Jeff Schoettmer leads the team in tackles with 23 stops on
the year. He also has one of the six INTs to this point. Senior safety Tim
Scott is next on the list with 18 tackles and he also has an INT to his
credit. Sophomore cornerback Brian Walker (8 tackles) has been the most
opportunistic defender though, with three INTs in the first three games.
The Tigers missed a pair of field goals in regulation and then opted to go for
it in the overtime session only to be stuffed on a 4th and 1. That was
followed by an FSU touchdown run that ended the game and sent Clemson home
While the game resulted in a loss, the Deshaun Watson era may have begun, as
Clemson’s talented freshman signal caller entered the game early on and played
extremely well, finishing 19-of-28 passing, for 266 yards, while rushing for a
score. Watson is slated to start this game, making him the first freshman to
start at quarterback for Clemson in 20 years.
Cole Stoudt has started all three games under center for Clemson this year,
but the unit may be in better hands with Watson at the helm. The good news is
that a full array of weapons in the passing game is at the disposal of whoever
lines up at QB. Freshman wideout Artavis Scott (10 rec, 239 yds, 2 TDs) has
made an immediate impact, while fellow wideouts Adam Humphries, Mike Williams
and Charone Peake are all capable of big plays.
The Tigers didn’t have to face last year’s Heisman Trophy winner Jameis
Winston and took full advantage last weekend, harassing FSU backup Sean
Maguire all night long, recording five sacks. In all, Clemson recorded 10 TFL
and held the Seminoles to just 13 yards rushing.
The front seven for Clemson is as good as any unit in the country. The team
currently ranks second in the nation in TFL (9.7 per game) and 12th in total
defense (273.7 ypg).
Linebacker Stephone Anthony had a big game against FSU, finishing with eight
tackles, two TFL and a sack. Anthony (18 tackles, 5.5 TFL, 1 sack) trails only
fellow linebacker Tony Steward (21 tackles) in total stops.
There may not be a better defensive line in the country, as Clemson has
several playmakers, headlined by All-American end Vic Beasley, who already has
four sacks. He is joined along the defensive front by players like tackles
Josh Watson, D.J. Reader, DeShawn Williams and Grady Jarrett, along with
fellow end Shaq Lawson.
The Tigers have to feel a little down after letting one slip away in
Tallahassee, but the good news is that the team embarks on a three-game
homestand now, starting with the Tar Heels. Until North Carolina tightens up
defensively, it will be hard to win games in-conference, especially on the
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Clemson 41, North Carolina 20