First some personnel issues: VT just lost their senior starting center and anchor of their offensive line to an ankle injury during the Duke game. He was arguably their best lineman so this is a big loss that shouldn't be underestimated.
On our side Brandon Ford says his ankle is at 90% right now and he will be available for this week's game. McDowell and Martavis Bryant will also be available. Sammy says he lost about 10 pounds while he was sick but is now back up to 204 pounds and feeling good. Dabo was asked by our astute local media (in the winner for awesomely bad question of the week) if Sammy was being used as a decoy by the Tigers. Dabo just laughed and appropriately destroyed the question by saying:
You guys crack me up. I promise you, we aren't doing anything differently with Sammy than we've ever done. He's played two and a half games and the rest of the team has played six. He's fine. We literally aren't doing anything different.
Defensive personnel: Blanks seems to have found a home at Safety and Brewer said he is playing almost exclusively at Corner (more reading of STS?) with Blanks at Safety. Blanks confirmed that he was also very sick the past few weeks. Venables thinks Christian has been playing better, making the move possible. I think this is a great move for the future of the defense and since our defense has given up more explosive/chunk plays than our offense has gained this year--I'm in favor of any change to the Safeties. D.J. Reader and Tavaris Barnes are going to see their snap totals increase in the coming games. The difference in production between Goodman and Barnes is startling. Goodman has 279 snaps with 11 tackles and 1 QB hurry. Zero sacks. Barnes in 116 snaps has 9 tackles and 2 QB hurries. For a returning starter, former Army All-American with all the measurables, that is just embarrassing.
Supposedly we will also see DL Carlos Watkins and LB Tony Steward get more snaps but I will believe that when I see it. I do think Steward is due for more snaps and expect to see a small increase.
Uniform watch: Rumors were that we would be wearing purple (the full Barney purple), supposedly to honor the military and that the seniors voted on it. The latest is that Dabo has said no because it was becoming a distraction, so hopefully we remember that our mascot is the Tigers and not the Dinosaurs (my apologies for bringing up uniforms). Moral of the story is when purple is rumored make a big fuss and hopefully it will become a distraction and go away. Dabo said purple is on the table for sometime in the future but that he is a traditional guy and has wanted to re-instill the distinctiveness of the Clemson brand. Credit to Dabo in this department.
So the actual game against VT?? Dabo provided no substance here other than the praising of Logan Thomas's height, arm, etc. Our Q&A with Gobbler and 'Key Play' gave a lot of info on the team so I'll just emphasis a few quick points. The Hokies want to run the ball first and haven't been able to do that this year for the first time in forever. RB J.C. Coleman went for 183 yards last week against Duke (although two of those runs were for 40 and 80 yards though), which led to the 41 unanswered points. They are a different team if they can run the ball with any degree of effectiveness. How much their makeshift line can open any running lanes and keep pressure off of Thomas will go a long way in deciding the game. The passing game is all vertical, deep routes this year with no intermediate routes. Their WR are inconsistent but have some talent so hopefully our CB's are up to the challenge. They lack an identity on offense. Reminds me of our two-headed monster Dabo-Napier offense.
On defense VT is playing less robber and zone, instead putting their CB's on an island in man coverage and bringing more pressure. Their D-line is still very talented but some of their secondary are playing out of position. Exum is playing CB when he looks like and was performing better as a Safety. When VT goes to its Nickel package you see a lot of redshirt freshman Michael Cole who has no business being on the field with the rest of the Hokie D. He is certainly a weak link in the D that can be exploited.
Swinney was surprisingly asked a great question by Bart Wright of all people about the possibility of Clemson accepting more JC players with the hiring of a new Athletic Director. Swinney said that for once they agreed on something and gave this great response:
I am with you 1000%. It is an issue. There are certain things that every school has to overcome. I'd never want to do a lot of that because we don't have to at Clemson. Kansas State has over the years, Texas Tech has gone and signed some 'War Daddy' JUCO guys and they've been impacted greatly and quickly. I'm more of a build through the draft kind of guy so to speak. That is really what I have always done and that is my background. But yes, there is the occasion where you may want to do that. We did it at Alabama, and heck my junior year we brought in John Copeland and he ended up the fourth pick in the draft. Alabama with Terrence Cody. Florida State brought in some difference makers. Auburn brought in Cam Newton. Tennessee brought in the Patterson kid. It's not that Clemson says "no" you can't come.
It is a problem for us. It's not that we can't get them in. It's that you have to meet degree percentage rules and you have to be able to transfer enough hours to count towards a degree. It's transferring hours to count towards a degree. Guys would be ineligible here where they are eligible somewhere else. Now, we do have some new curriculum coming on board in 2013 that I'm excited about that will hopefully help us there. It's about having places to count some electives. We do have some new things coming online in the fall of 2013. It would be nice to be able to recruit two or three great ones that fit our profile. It's hard. It is a limiting factor for us but it's not something we can't overcome. I'm fully confident we can build a great program that can compete consistently and nationally through our primary recruiting areas.
So sounds like there is the possibility for some change after 2013. We certainly could have used some JUCO D-lineman this year. Apologies for the long quote but I thought people would enjoy it in its entirety (complete with War Daddy).
We are back to 'thudding' during practice.
And finally from our feathered friends: Apparently punching opposing players is no big deal, as long as its not a haymaker.
"But in defense of Kelcy, the punch he threw … I guess you could call it a punch. It wasn't a haymaker," Spurrier said. "He got sort of sucker-leveled on Jimmy Legree's interception."
Yeah if your fist is closed and you make a swinging motion--its a punch Stevo.