Clemson University

Gameday preview: Clemson vs. Miami

Injury report, five game storylines, five questions with Chris Chancellor and more.


Clemson: Out - LB Scotty Cooper (concussion), S Kantrell Brown (concussion).

Miami: Out - DT Marcus Forston (ankle), LB Jordan Futch (ACL), TE Richard Gordon (arm), DE Adewale Ojomo (jaw), DE Gavin Hardin (neck), DE Dyron Dye (knee), LB Shavon Green (lower body), CB Ryan Hill (shoulder), FB Pat Hill (ankle); Questionable - WR Aldarius Johnson (shoulder); Probable - S Randy Phillips (torn labrum), DL Josh Holmes (lower extremity), OL Joel Figueroa (lower extremity), RB Graig Cooper (hip), RB Javarris James (lower extremity), RB Mike James (ankle), DL Eric Moncur (groin), DB JoJo Nicolas (arm).


The heat is on

Coaches lit a match under Kyle Parker a week ago, and the result was a quarterback with improved decision-making and efficiency.

Facing Miami on the road is a different beast than a home game with Wake Forest, though. Parker has been challenged to handle the moment and environment with more poise than he did in Clemson's last road game at Maryland.

Down or distance

The Tigers left the impression they had solved their first-down and red-zone woes a week ago. Matching that level of dominance seems a long shot against a more athletic defense. But that does not mean Clemson cannot sustain its success if it can get a push up front and utilize the play-action pass.

The chess match

Miami offensive coordinator Mark Whipple might deserve ACC coach of the year based on his early returns. Clemson defensive coordinator Kevin Steele has a pretty strong unit when his defensive ends are getting pressure.

The speed versus speed component should lend to explosive plays and a lot of chest-pounding. And it figures to be entertaining.

Putting the six in 60

C.J. Spiller's streak of posting a play of at least 60 yards in all six games this season has been amazing. Five have gone for touchdowns, and it is hard to imagine the Tigers winning unless Spiller makes another big splash.

Is eight enough?

Clemson has beaten a team ranked as high as No. 8 Miami once on the road when it topped eighth-ranked UNC in 1981 en route to the national title. Bowl eligibility is more an issue than the national title, but an upset might go a long way toward positioning the Tigers for a run at the Atlantic Division crown.

Five questions with Chris Chancellor

Chancellor, a senior cornerback, grew up in several crime-infested areas of Miami. He has switched jerseys from No. 38 to No. 6 today in memory of slain UConn player Jasper Howard, a former high school teammate and friend.

Is South Beach all it's cracked up to be?

It's pretty electrifying. People walking the streets at all hours of the morning. Wet Willy's and all the clubs down there, the whole strip is just amazing.

There are a whole lot of places. Fat Tuesday's, Wet Willy's, just the whole strip is the place to be.

Is there a sense back home the "U" is back?

Everybody loves the "U" down there. When I came to Clemson, some of my family switched over, but a lot of them are still the "U" this, the "U" that. I just laugh it off and say, well, prove it on Saturday.

Miami recruited your brother, Demerick, who also signed with Clemson at the time. Any idea why the Hurricanes didn't recruit you?

They already knew I was Florida State all the way. I was on their recruiting list to go to some of the games, but I was pretty sure I was going to Florida State.

Q: So why didn't you accept the offer from FSU?

I don't know. That was my childhood dream. Coach (Kevin) Steele was there and I was so close to committing. Then I came to Clemson, and I made the right choice.

You were friends with Jasper Howard. That tragedy seems to have made you reflect on your upbringing.

Some people downplay you and don't want you to go off and succeed. They want you stay in the city life and be thugs or gangsters and things like that. 'Jazz' had the opportunity to go and make something of himself and was having a great career at UConn and was making plays all over the field. So it kind of hit home.


Miami offensive coordinator Mark Whipple vs. Clemson defensive coordinator Kevin Steele

About Whipple:

The 52-year-old has injected life into Miami's offense by catering a pro-style offense to the strengths of the talent he inherited. His previous two job stints were coaching quarterbacks for the Philadelphia Eagles (Donovan McNabb) and Pittsburgh Steelers (Ben Roethlisberger), so his work grooming sophomore Jacory Harris is not without credibility.

How he'll win:

Whipple's offense has been so diverse defenses have not been able to lock onto one component. The Hurricanes have the takent at receiver to test Clemson's secondary. But if that does not pan out, the tight ends and running backs have favorable matchups underneath.

Key number: 26

Completions for 20 or more yards by Miami this season

About Steele:

The 51-year-old Dillon native has delivered the attacking defense he advertised. The Tigers rank in the top 20 in sack, tackles for loss, scoring and yards allowed. Steele has NFL experience on his resume, too, having served as the Carolina Panthers' linebackers coach from 1995-98.

How he'll win:

Steele has pulled out a wrinkle in about every game. There's no telling what it might be this week, but it will be geared toward helping Da'Quan Bowers and Ricky Sapp pressuring Harris. He also has to manufacture a way to minimize Clemson's coverage shortcomings in the short middle of the field.

Key number: 11.3

Points per game Clemson's defense has actually allowed, removing six TDs opponents have scored versus the Tigers otherwise

Related stories from The State in Columbia SC