Clemson University

Gameday preview: Clemson vs. Boston College

Clemson quarterback Kyle Parker delivers a touchdown pass to C.J. Spiller in the second quarter during the Tigers game against the Yellow Jackets at Bobby Dodd Stadium, Thursday, September 10, 2009.
Clemson quarterback Kyle Parker delivers a touchdown pass to C.J. Spiller in the second quarter during the Tigers game against the Yellow Jackets at Bobby Dodd Stadium, Thursday, September 10, 2009.

5 storylines

Pedal to the mettle

After a rollercoaster loss at Georgia Tech, the reviews were that Clemson displayed a resilience it lacked under the previous staff. The Tigers' next two games today and next week vs. No. 15 TCU figure to preview whether they have the toughness to challenge for the Atlantic Division title.

Finding the middle ground

Today is billed as Clemson's speed vs. Boston College's brawn. Truth be told, the Eagles have some quick running backs, too, and the Tigers have a substantially larger defensive front. Whichever team neutralizes the other's strength gains an upper hand.

The "C" is for catch

C.J. Spiller has given Boston College fits more than any other ACC opponent in his career. But the senior running back has levied much of his damage as a receiver, with four of his five offensive plays of 19-plus yards against the Eagles coming via the catch. It seems the Tigers strike with Spiller every meeting on at least one wheel route by the sideline.

Putting the "D" in debut

Opening the season against Middle Tennessee's four-receiver spread and Georgia Tech's flexbone option precluded defensive coordinator Kevin Steele from using his base scheme. The curtain is pulled today against Boston College's I-formation, and it will be interesting to monitor what it brings out in defensive ends Ricky Sapp and Da'Quan Bowers.

Making a run

The offense's biggest sore spot has been a failure to convert on third-and-short in the red zone. Clemson coaches contend they have gotten strong play from four of five offensive line spots, and the fifth got a makeover this week with the promotion of Landon Walker to right tackle. Today we see if that will make a difference.

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Five questions with Mike Wade

Wade, a junior third-string quarterback, serves as the holder on placekicks and the last line of defensie in front of the punter.

Q: You're also on special teams coverage units and have spent one previous season at safety. What's next on your bucket list?

A: I haven't played anywhere on the line, so maybe after this season, they'll ask me to gain 30 pounds and play tackle. That ain't going to happen, but I do feel like playing linebacker would be fun.

Q: As a holder, do you vary what you do depending on the kicker?

A: Not really. They all like the ball leaned a little toward me. When we're down there close, they all say laces out, but if the laces are straight back, it's pretty much the same thing. So with extra points, it's not as vital that the laces are out.

Q: You don't see many quarterbacks volunteering to be that back-line protector for punters.

A: I remember the guy from Georgia was a few years ago, Joe Tereshinski. I think it shows I do have a little bit of athletic ability and can get out there and do that. And that I have the desire to do that. Kickoffs, running into the wall, that's great fun. It's an outlet. At quarterback, you can't really display the emotions you want to sometimes. Now it's get out there and get a little crazy sometimes.

Q: But most folks don't realize how walloping a hit the protector takes.

A: That's what Jamie Harper and I were talking about the other day. Coach (Andre') Powell wants us to square them up, and they've pretty much got a 40-yard sprint start at you. So first you have to see if there are any twists and pick the right guy, and then you pretty much stay low and try to take the hit, if not deliver it as well.

Q: So, what position should you really be listed at?

A: I think the coaches know what my role is and know I've got some other attributes that some quarterbacks might not have. But I'm not on the defense, I'm not something else, I'm a quarterback. I think they know I can do the job if I got to play quarterback, and I think they know I also have a bit of a wild side in me and can play special teams.

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GAME WITHIN A GAME

Boston College LT Anthony Castonzo vs. Clemson DE Da'Quan Bowers

About Castonzo:

The 6-foot-7, 295-pound junior is viewed as the program's next potential NFL linemen. He also is a biochemistry major who hopes to work with cancer research after football. Castanzo was 6-foot-2, 190 pounds as a sophomore in high school.

How he'll win:

Castanzo is more of a technician and he possesses quick enough feet to position himself to contain Bowers through technique and craftiness. Offensive coordinator Gary Tranquill will use his tight ends to double Clemson's ends in pass protection.

Key number: 1.69

sacks Boston College allowed per game last season

About Bowers:

The 6-4, 280-pound sophomore has yet to make the breakout expected, but coaches lauded his unselfishness in carrying out his assignment and sticking with Georgia Tech back Jonathan Dwyer last week, helping limit Dwyer to 66 yards on 18 carries. Bowers has 10 tackles this season and is tied for second on the team in quarterback pressures (two) and tackles for loss (two).

How he'll win:

Teammates suggest Bowers is ready to make the leap to stardom for two reasons: He knows and carries out his assignments now, and he has figured out how to capitalize on his athletic superiority. Ends coach Chris Rumph hinted this week it is only a matter of time before Bowers is allowed to pin his ears back and go.

Key number: 23 - points Clemson's defense has allowed in two games

INJURY REPORT:

BOSTON COLLEGE: NONe reported.

Clemson: Probable - TE Michael Palmer (hip).

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