Friday, September 30, 2011

Virginia Tech: A pivotal moment for Clemson?

Here's a quick evening update less than 24 hours before kickoff in Blacksburg:

The Orange and White's Greg Wallace says Saturday's showdown with the Hokies is a season-defining game: "Think about it: if the Tigers can take down unbeaten, No.11 Virginia Tech in their own house, is there a game they won’t be favored in the rest of the way, save a potential regular season-ending showdown at South Carolina?" In a separate piece, Wallace breaks down the game's key points.

• Game prediction from Tigernet's David Hood? Clemson 27, Virginia Tech 23.

Tiger punter Zimmerman listed as probable, more news

With one day to go to the big game at Virginia Tech, here's some news and notes from hither and yon:

• Clemson punter Dawson Zimmerman is listed as probable for Saturday's game. Zimmerman, who is averaging 43 yards per kick, was hurt in last week's victory against Florida State.

The Washington Post's Hokies Journal breaks down Saturday's key matchups and offers a prediction: Virginia Tech 31, Clemson 28.

USA Today rates Saturday's game as one of the week's biggest.

• The Tigers will be looking to snap a long losing streak against the Hokies, a team they haven't defeated since 1989. 

• Here's a good column from The Augusta Chronicle on how Dabo Swinney has turned Clemson around with one move -- hiring Chad Morris as offensive coordinator.

Orange and White says it's been a good week of practice at Clemson. Will it pay off on Saturday? (A note to the Orange and White: You have one of the slickest-looking Clemson-themed websites out there, but its stuff doesn't appear in Google News when you do a search for "Clemson." You might want to get that fixed.)

The Charlotte Observer's Tom Sorensen writes that between Clemson and USC, the state of South Carolina is in a football frenzy. He even floats the possibility that both teams could be undefeated when they play on Nov. 26. He also has this great line: "I moved South in 1981. To an outsider, Clemson felt mythical. Nothing I had seen prepared me for the manner in which the team and the town came together."

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Hokies' top receivers should play Saturday

A couple of late-night notes leading up to Virginia Tech-Clemson:

• Virginia Tech's top two wide receivers, Jarrett Boykin and Marcus Davis, who have been battling injuries, are expected to play against Clemson on Saturday.

•  CBS Sports has a video preview of Saturday's game.

• Former Clemson offensive coordinator Mike O'Cain should have mixed emotions on Saturday. He played at Clemson in the 1970s, and now he's Virginia Tech's quarterbacks coach.

Chad Morris, Tajh Boyd: Match made in heaven

As the showdown with Virginia Tech gets closer, here's some more Tiger news from around the Web.

• ESPN's Mark Schlabach says Clemson's new offensive coordinator Chad Morris has the perfect weapon for his spread offense in quarterback Tajh Boyd.

• Speaking of Morris, the Richmond Times-Dispatch has a nice profile of the offensive mastermind.

• And speaking of Boyd, he's won a national honor for the second week in a row.

The Anderson Independent Mail's Kerry Capps (a byline I haven't seen in a long time) looks at the Tigers' problems in short-yardage situations. It's an issue that needs to get fixed, and soon.

• What do you want on your tombstone, Tigers? How about a victory over Virginia Tech to add to the team's tombstone collection of wins against ranked teams?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Tajh Boyd gets a hometown profile, more

A few Clemson-related stories of note from the P.M. cycle:

 • Tony Barnhart, CBS Sports' top college football analyst, says the spread offense is powering Clemson's recent good fortunes.

• How much has Clemson's offense improved since last season? It's among the top five most-improved teams in the country, according to this analysis from the Anderson Independent Mail. (Georgia Tech is No. 1 in that category.)

• There's a nice profile of red-hot Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd in Virginia's Hampton Roads Daily Press (Boyd grew up in the Hampton Roads area). Here's another great profile of Boyd from the Anderson Independent Mail. Also, Saturday's game will reunite Boyd with an old friend: Hokies QB Logan Thomas.

• And here's still more on Boyd, this time focusing on how Clemson is successfully recruiting players -- like Boyd and Florida-raised receiver Sammy Watkins -- who are from our rivals' back yards.

• Virginia Tech's offense isn't lighting up the board thanks to "self-inflicted mistakes," says the Washington Post's Hokies Journal blog.

• Also, the Hokies' vaunted special teams haven't been playing up to their usual stellar standard.

• Here's the transcript of Dabo Swinney's weekly ACC teleconference. (Via Tigernet.)

• Also from Tigernet: Mickey Plyler says Saturday night's game in Blacksburg is "big boy football."

• And here are the official pregame notes from the Clemson athletic department.

Virginia Tech: A tough challenge, as usual

A quick spin through the A.M. cycle of Tiger news online:

• Saturday's game in Blacksburg against the No. 11 Hokies will bring the Tigers into contact with a tough defense and a hostile crowd.

• Virginia Tech's long-term success is strongly linked to its success at keeping its coaching staff together for the long term. It's something Clemson would love to replicate.

• Clemson looks to be Virginia Tech's toughest opponent of the season, according to this Tech-centric preview story from Bleacher Report.

Eye on the Tigers note that it's been an explosive season in the ACC so far on the offensive side of the ball.

Shakin' the Southland does an informative Q&A with Gobbler Country, its SB Nation counterpart.

• Will Virginia Tech's injured ace receiver Jarrett Boykin suit up for Saturday's game? The Washington Post's Hokies Journal says it's definitely a possibility.

• ESPN's Heather Dinich makes a point many others have been making today -- Clemson will be the Hokies' biggest test so far this season.

Five-year blogging hiatus ends

Has it really been five years since I last wrote in this space?

Yes. Yes it has.

During that time, Tommy Bowden has departed and Dabo Swinney has taken over as head coach. The Tigers won the ACC's Atlantic Division in 2009. Amazing players such as C.J. Spiller and Jacoby Ford, some of the best ever to wear orange, have come and gone.

And now, in 2011, the Tigers have had one of their most successful streaks ever -- back-to-back victories against nationally ranked teams, including defending national champions Auburn. They're undefeated at 4-0 and ranked 13th and 15th in the national polls.

Coming up this week: A showdown with league powerhouse Virginia Tech at Lane Stadium in Blacksburg.

I can't say if I'll post as often as I did back in my heyday, but it's good to be back.