NCAA FB

Sat, Nov 3, 2012 - 7:00 PM ET
Game Preview
 

Clemson-Duke Preview

Share This Story

   
 

CLEMSON, S.C. (AP)

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney thinks the 10th-ranked Tigers have grown since their late-season collapse of last fall and have the experience to avoid a similar slide this season.

"Consistency is something this program has lacked,'' Swinney said. "That's the next thing we've got to do.''

The quest starts Saturday night when the Tigers visit a Duke team that hasn't defeated a ranked opponent in nearly 20 years.

Clemson (7-1, 4-1 ACC) appeared ready to break through a year ago when it stood 8-0 and ranked No. 6 in the country. The Tigers were in the thick of BCS title talk because of a record-setting offense that looked unstoppable.

Then things fell apart.

Clemson lost three of its final four games in the regular season. While the team rebounded to win the ACC crown, Clemson was demolished in prime time in an embarrassing 70-33 loss to West Virginia in the Orange Bowl.

Clemson's already handled several obstacles it hasn't in the past since its lone loss, a 49-37 defeat at then-No. 4 Florida State on Sept. 22, to get itself back in the top 10. Swinney said the players have learned from last year's problems and look forward to continuing their strong play.

"I just think the experience they've had is going to pay off for them,'' Swinney said. "That's usually the case.''

Tigers center Dalton Freeman said Clemson went nine games without a break last year and bumps and bruises began to take a toll. There were also several underclassmen at key positions, he said, like quarterback Tajh Boyd and receiver Sammy Watkins whose production tailed off and mistakes increased as the season wore on.

"They hadn't been through it before and I don't know if they were mentally ready'' for the stretch run, Freeman said.

Freeman says those players haven't forgotten what they went through and are focused on building on their four-game win streak.

For Boyd, this is a chance to prove he won't have a drop off in production the way he did last fall. Boyd had passed for 24 touchdowns and three interceptions in Clemson's perfect start. He had four touchdowns and seven interceptions in the final four regular-season games.

Boyd said he's a much more mature player this season and doesn't spend much time thinking about what went wrong for him last fall.

"It's a growth in the leadership role and having these guys look up to me in any situation whether we're down or up,'' he said. "So my job is to stay calm, stay poised and let the game come to me.''

Boyd's done that this season. He leads the league with more than 326 yards of total offense per game. He also tops the ACC with 20 TD passes against six interceptions.

Boyd threw for a school-record 428 yards in last Thursday's 42-13 victory over Wake Forest. He tied his own school record with five touchdown passes to five receivers - a fact Boyd's especially proud of.

"I think that's when we're at our best,'' he says, "when everyone touches the ball.''

Clemson got a major boost against Wake Forest from Watkins, an All-American who had struggled to match his freshman production as a sophomore. Watkins had eight catches for a school-record 202 yards and his first receiving touchdown of the year.

Tigers offensive coordinator Chad Morris believes Watkins is rounding into form at exactly the right time to keep the Tigers rolling.

Clemson, second in the ACC with 41.0 points per game, could be poised for a big effort against Duke (6-3, 3-2), which has allowed an average of 39.7 points in losing two of three.

In a 48-7 loss to the Seminoles last Saturday, the Blue Devils were outgained 560-232. Quarterback Sean Renfree was knocked out of the game in the second quarter with an unspecified head injury, and his status for this week is uncertain.

Despite its third lopsided loss of the season, Duke is one-half game back of Miami for first place in the Coastal Division.

"We have to move on,'' wide receiver Desmond Scott said. "We're going to show the young fellows how you bounce back from a loss like that."

That could be difficult considering the Blue Devils have lost 46 straight against ranked teams since beating No. 13 Virginia 28-25 in 1994. The Tigers have outscored Duke by an average of 30.0 points in winning the last three matchups, the most recent in 2008.

Tagged: Clemson, Duke, Dalton Freeman, Tajh Boyd, Sammy Watkins

Related Stories

Member Comments

Please note by clicking on "Post comment" you acknowledge that you have read the Terms of Use and the comment you are posting is in compliance with such terms. Be Polite. Inappropriate posts may be removed by the moderator.

powered by

College Football Pick'em on FOX


NCAA FB Videos

Sumlin annoyed by media's Manziel questions Posted: Jul 16, 2014
Kevin Sumlin responds to questions about life after Johnny Football by toying wi...

AJ Pasquale's journey back to UCLA Posted: Jun 17, 2014
UCLA football ops intern AJ Pasquale describes his own personal journey after th...

Winston issued adult civil citation Posted: Apr 30, 2014
Get the latest news surrounding Jameis Winston's recent shoplifting fiasco.

Get Inside the Locker Room with Scout.com

More Than Sports on MSN

Fox Sports Store

    itemName itemURL imageSrc price itemDescription
    Nike Florida Gators Gridiron 2012 Team Issue T-Shirt - Royal Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Florida_Gators/browse/featuredproduct/759777/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_759000/ff_759777_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Nike Florida Gators Gridiron 2012 Team Issue T-Shirt - Royal Blue
    Nike Michigan State Spartans Football 2012 Team Issue T-Shirt - White http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Michigan_State_Spartans/browse/featuredproduct/760171/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_760000/ff_760171_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Nike Michigan State Spartans Football 2012 Team Issue T-Shirt - White
    Nike USC Trojans Fight On My School T-Shirt - Cardinal http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_USC_Trojans/browse/featuredproduct/761373/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_761000/ff_761373_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Nike USC Trojans Fight On My School T-Shirt - Cardinal
    Nike Alabama Crimson Tide Elite Force Coaches Sideline Performance Polo - Crimson http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Alabama_Crimson_Tide/browse/featuredproduct/829709/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_829000/ff_829709_xl.jpg&w=100 64.95 Nike Alabama Crimson Tide Elite Force Coaches Sideline Performance Polo - Crimso..
    Nike LSU Tigers Elite Force Coaches Sideline Performance Polo - Purple http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_LSU_Tigers/browse/featuredproduct/829740/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_829000/ff_829740_xl.jpg&w=100 49.99 Nike LSU Tigers Elite Force Coaches Sideline Performance Polo - Purple
    Nike Oklahoma Sooners Legacy 91 Dri-FIT Adjustable Coaches Cap - Crimson http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Oklahoma_Sooners/browse/featuredproduct/830935/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_830000/ff_830935_xl.jpg&w=100 21.95 Nike Oklahoma Sooners Legacy 91 Dri-FIT Adjustable Coaches Cap - Crimson
    adidas Notre Dame Fighting Irish Hot Sideline Jacket - Navy Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Notre_Dame_Fighting_Irish/browse/featuredproduct/861243/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_861000/ff_861243_xl.jpg&w=100 69.95 adidas Notre Dame Fighting Irish Hot Sideline Jacket - Navy Blue
    adidas Nebraska Cornhuskers Sideline Hot Quarter Zip Jacket - Scarlet http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Nebraska_Cornhuskers/browse/featuredproduct/861247/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_861000/ff_861247_xl.jpg&w=100 69.95 adidas Nebraska Cornhuskers Sideline Hot Quarter Zip Jacket - Scarlet
    Nike Alabama Crimson Tide 2012 BCS National Champions Players Locker Room Snapback Hat - Charcoal/Black http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Alabama_Crimson_Tide/browse/featuredproduct/1087345/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1087000/ff_1087345_xl.jpg&w=100 29.95 Nike Alabama Crimson Tide 2012 BCS National Champions Players Locker Room Snapba..
    Nike Alabama Crimson Tide 2012 BCS National Champions Locker Room T-Shirt - Ash http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Alabama_Crimson_Tide/browse/featuredproduct/1093431/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1093000/ff_1093431_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Nike Alabama Crimson Tide 2012 BCS National Champions Locker Room T-Shirt - Ash