CLEMSON -- For Dabo Swinney, the formula is simple Saturday night in Blacksburg: If Clemson can't slow a Virginia Tech running attack averaging 211 yards per game, the Clemson coach says "it's going to be a long night."
Clemson defensive coordinator Kevin Steele said Virginia Tech has one of the best power-running schemes in the East, in the same company with Alabama and LSU. The Hokies have a veteran offensive line and an explosive tailback in David Wilson, who is averaging 130 rushing yards per game.
The Clemson defense is 85th in the country against the run, allowing 175 yards per game, and was ranked 110th before limiting Florida State to 29 rushing yards on 15 carries last week.
Steele believes the stats are misleading because Clemson played run-first Wofford and Auburn.
"It's not like we're terrible," Steele said. "I think we're progressing very nicely in the way we are playing the run."
However, Florida State got away from the run and has had some performance issues along its offensive line. Running the ball is Virginia Tech's identity, and the Hokies will test a suspect Clemson run defense.
Ford: Clemson would accept SEC invite
Former Clemson coach Danny Ford told the Montgomery (Ala.) Advertiser that Clemson would accept an invite from the SEC and would be a "perfect fit."
"I don't personally speak for the university, and I don't have any knowledge of what's being discussed, but I do know enough people over there to know that, if invited, they would choose to join the SEC," Ford said. "In football, (Clemson ) would have to do a lot of work (joining the SEC), and maybe that would make Clemson get up and hustle a bit, which would be good."
Clemson president James Barker told The Post and Courier last month that Clemson was "committed" to the ACC.
Cam Newton Lite?
Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas is 6-6, 245 pounds, the same size as former Auburn quarterback Cam Newton. Dual-threat quarterbacks have given Clemson's defense trouble in past games and Thomas can run -- he came to Virginia Tech wanting to play tight end, not quarterback. Virginia Tech scheduled non-conference opponents early in the season, in part to break in the first-year starter who has completed 57 percent of his passes to go along with four touchdowns and four interceptions.
Clemson has no major injuries. P Dawson Zimmerman (knee) and RB D.J. Howard (hamstring) will play, WR DeAndre Hopkins (hamstring) is probable. Virginia does have injury concerns at WR, where Dyrell Roberts is out (broken arm) and starters Jarrett Boykin (hamstring) and Marcus Davis (foot) are banged up. Frank Beamer told reporters he's "worried" about his receiver depth Saturday.
If Clemson beats Virginia Tech on Saturday, the Tigers will become the first ACC team to defeat three straight ranked opponents. Georgia Tech accomplished the feat in 1959, as did Virginia Tech in 2002, but neither was an ACC member at the time. … Brandon Thomas will start at left guard for Clemson.