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QB Controversy Part 3: Clemson's Defense

Fun memories of our last trip to Death Valley.

This post is the third installment in a series on our current QB controversy. Later this weekend I'll have a final post on my own opinion on who should start.

In an effort to consider which QB would be best against our hated rivals, let's take a short look at the Tigers' defense. This is a defense that has typically not performed well against the best competition: they gave up 34 points and 419 yards in their embarrassing loss to Alabama and 41 and 419 again to Florida State. Wake Forest also put up lots of yards against Clemson but didn't score as many points due to turnovers. In other games they've generally played well, but that probably has as much to do with playing in a league full of teams with solid defenses and terrible offenses as it does with actually having a great defense.

The Tigers' weakness appears to be a poor run defense. Bama and FSU both blasted Clemson for over 200 yards on the ground, as did Georgia Tech. Teams like Wake and NC State also had a bit of success running the ball against Clemson.

Does Clemson's weakness against the run mean that Spurrier should play Garcia and take advantage of the freshman's mobility? Perhaps, although it's hard to say. The teams that have had the most success running against Clemson are teams that use traditional offensive attacks and that have big, fast RBs and solid offensive lines. We don't have much data, on the other hand, for how mobile QBs have fared against Clemson. NC State's talented freshman Russell Wilson had some good runs against the Tigers, but he hardly lit up the stat line, compiling a total of 26 yards. Tech's Josh Nesbitt ran for over 70 yards, but Tech runs the triple option and thus cannot be considered representative.

My guess is that Spurrier might call some designed runs if Garcia plays but probably not much more than usual. Other than Tech, teams that have ran well against Clemson do it the old fashioned way, so you can expect Spurrier to put the ball in his RBs' hands and try to establish the run regardless of which QB plays the most. That said, if Clemson's defense favors either QB's style, I would say it favors Garcia's.