Greetings from Wake Forest

October, 9, 2008
10/09/08
6:04
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Hello from Winston-Salem, where the Dixie Fair is in full swing across the street from BB&T Field, and Clemson fans are out in full force in the adjacent parking lot. It's been raining on and off all day here, and it's threatening to do it again.

The Tigers, though, could use a little Thunder and Lightning. (Sorry, really, it was just too easy).

It's true, though. If Clemson is going to have a chance at winning this game, the staff has to get their playmakers the ball, and James Davis and C.J. Spiller are at the top of the list. Clemson's offensive philosophy seems to have scaled back on the account of its young, inexperienced offensive line, but at some point they've got to put some faith in the talent around it.

Here are a few keys to the game:

  • Clemson does a great job of getting screen passes to Aaron Kelly, an aspect of the offense Wake Forest can't forget while they're trying to get to quarterback Cullen Harper.
  • The Demon Deacons have earned a reputation for forcing teams to hand it over, but recently have gotten a taste of their own medicine. (Riley Skinner accounted for five against Navy). Ball security will essential, especially if it starts to pour.
  • Wake Forest will have to play gap sound defense and make sure that Davis and Spiller don't get loose. On the flip side, Clemson needs to make sure to get those guys the ball more than they did in the second half against Maryland.

Wake Forest kicker Sam Swank, I'm told, is a game-time decision. They're going to bring him out dressed and see whether or not he can do it. If not, the punting and placekicking duties fall to rookie Shane Popham. That will be less of a factor in field goals and moreso on kickoffs to Spiller.

This game is bigger for Clemson than it is Wake Forest. The Tigers have one league loss and Wake Forest does not. Atlantic Division standings aside, a loss would probably not bode well for the future of Tommy Bowden. Then again, it's only October, and this ain't Auburn.

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