CLEMSON — The No. 1 Tigers aren't going to dismiss a 41-23 win over Virginia Saturday night.
The Cavaliers were reigning ACC Coastal Division champions who played in the Orange Bowl last December, so an 18-point win — even with the Tigers’ lofty standards — was nothing to diminish.
But with a top-10 matchup against Miami looming large on Saturday, some of the Tigers’ defensive players understood that Virginia served as something of a preview of what the Hurricanes will try to bring to Death Valley. Kickoff is 8 p.m. on ABC.
Playing in a night game, against an athletic, relentless quarterback who has tall receivers and tight ends downfield, Virginia actually paralleled Miami more than common thought would suggest. The Hurricanes, however, entered a bye week Saturday after hanging 99 points in their first two ACC games, and quarterback D’Eriq King entered the weekend second nationally with 893 all-purpose yards in three games.
“He’s a great quarterback,” freshman defensive lineman Bryan Bresee said Saturday night. “I’m sure (defensive coordinator Brent Venables) will put together a great game plan like he does every week and we'll do the best we can to fulfill it. And we'll just just play our football, play how our defense always does.”
Added cornerback Andrew Booth: “He’s very good, you’ve seen him. We need to make sure we always have a guy on him in coverage. But we’re going to go to the drawing board and scheme against him, try to do what we do.”
So far this season, King — a transfer quarterback from Houston — has built a rapport with tight end Brevin Jordan. Viewed by some as the top tight end NFL Draft prospect in the country, Jordan already has 15 catches for 212 yards and three touchdowns. While Virginia doesn’t have a tight end of Jordan’s caliber, Tony Poljan had three catches for 25 yards and a touchdown.
“It affects our scheme,” Booth said of Miami. “We’ll practice their stuff all week, scheme to it, have set plays for their tight ends, and at the end of the day, we’re going to have to come and play. Put certain personnel on their tight ends.”
As far as King’s mobility, Virginia offered a test in that Cavaliers’ quarterback Brennan Armstrong finished as the game’s leading rusher, with 101 sack-adjusted rushing yards on 19 carries. King may be smaller and quicker, and already has 157 rushing yards (including sacks) on the season.
Venables liked some of what his team did to slow down Armstrong, but also sees plenty of room for improvement.
“He was exactly what we saw on film,” Venables said of Armstrong. “They have a design quarterback draw on every play, so you got to have ... everybody’s got to be aware. Literally, like the one they had a touchdown with the linemen down in the field. That's, that's a draw. That is delayed. So by the time they get rid of the ball so fast, the quarterback has RPO. So that's when they start spreading out like they do with getting from sideline to sideline. You got to have people disciplined in the rush lanes and you got to work blocks.”
Clemson and Miami are set to kick off 7:30 p.m. ET on Oct. 10.
Anna Hickey reports for www.clemson247.com, a website devoted to Clemson athletics and featuring premium content on recruiting and much more.
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