ACC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME PREVIEW : CLEMSON VS VIRGINIA
By Al Curtiss & A.J. Curtiss
Archived under Featured Articles – College
We will be covering the Atlantic Coast Conference Championship game again this year. Our veteran ACC correspondents, Allen Curtiss and A.J. Curtiss, will again be in Charlotte for what, on paper, looks like a total mismatch.
Well, the game ain’t played on paper. Below are the opinions of A.J., who is responsible for the Cavaliers, and Al, who handles the Tigers, as to what their respective teams need to do to become the 2019 ACC Champion. Enjoy.
For the Cavaliers, the first key to the game is Contain Trevor Lawrence. Clemson had a hiccup early in the season when the Tigers almost lost to the UNC Tar Heels in Chapel Hill. Lawrence only completed 18 of his 30 attempts for one touchdown. And ran for 45 yards and one score. If Virginia can contain the outside and not allow him to escape, and get pressure in his face they will have a chance at limiting the Clemson offense. Virginia gives up an average of 23 points per game, holding opponents to 128 yards rushing as well. The corners will have to limit Lawrence’s options and really play tough.
Second, make third down manageable. UVA is sitting right around 44% for third down conversions this season. They’ve also been great clock managers, possessing the pigskin almost 10 more minutes on average than opponents. UVA will need to get into situations where they have a high conversion rates, starting with first and second down. Bryce Perkins and Wayne Taulapap have combined for 23 rushing touchdowns this season. They will need to establish the run on early downs. Getting 4 or 5 yards on first down will open up the playbook and raise their chance of success.
Finally, it’s going to take a real effort. Clemson is the defending national champions and, on paper, they are down right better than the Cavaliers. But the beauty of sport is, well, we still have to play the game to see who will win. If UVA wants to stun the college football nation, it is going to take everyone giving 100%. Mentally and physically, everyone has to be bought into this game, and just do their job. This game cannot come down to the legs or arm of Bryce Perkins. It’s going to take every individual taking pride in their abilities to get the job done.
The “Always Clemson Champions” (Atlantic Coast Conference) Conference title game this Saturday will be yet another showcase of the “Tiger Train” steamrolling its fifth different ACC Coastal Division opponent on their way to their 5th straight slot in the College Football Playoffs.
Clemson enters the ACC title game against the #23 Virginia Hokies (9-3) as the #3 ranked team in the nation, undefeated (12-0), and irked by a lack of respect for a team that has won 27 straight games dating back to 2018.
The defending national champions enter the game with an offense averaging more than 45 points per game and a #1 ranked defense that is holding opponents to 10 points per game. For Virginia and future Clemson opponents, these stats are eerily similar to last year’s national championship team.
Look for the 2019 ACC Championship Game version to follow the script of previous years, where Clemson just out-athletes and out-muscles their Coastal Division opponent. The 1st quarter will likely feature RB Travis Etienne getting his carries early and often on his way to a 100-yard first half, while QB Trevor Lawrence will likely toss 3 touchdowns in the first stanza — one of which will be a short field complements of a defensive turnover. Virginia needs to be complemented on a great second half of the season, and will likely find better results in a more competitive bowl game, but on this upcoming Saturday there isn’t a rock big enough for David to slay this relentless Tiger team.