CLEMSON -- Opposing defensive coordinators are not going to take Clemson's fireworks lying down. As more taped evidence of the fresh scheme and new impact players becomes available -- the combined 73 points against Auburn and Florida State, for instance -- there won't be as many surprises.
Hah! That's what they think.
So now comes the cliffhanger part.
It's not just No. 13 Clemson at No. 11 Virginia Tech on Saturday night, but venerable defensive coordinator Bud Foster making adjustments and Clemson countering.
It's a "chess match" (Clemson center Dalton Freeman's take) or a "cat-and-mouse game" (the way head coach Dabo Swinney sees it). It's new offensive coordinator Chad Morris trying to stay one step ahead of good and well-paid obstructionists who have been in the college game a lot longer than his 17 games.
Clemson players and coaches have three good reasons to believe the Tigers will get better on offense as the season goes along, even if doesn't all come together in Blacksburg:
1) Morris' fast-paced spread offense steadily improved last year at Tulsa, where he was a rookie offensive coordinator after a 16-year stint as a high school head coach.
2) Clemson is 4-0 despite making a lot of mistakes on offense.
3) The Tigers haven't played a road game but at times Saturday felt like they were in Tallahassee.
"We're trying to see what they're seeing," Swinney said Tuesday, imagining himself in Virginia Tech's Chicago maroon and burnt orange for just a moment.
They're seeing freshman Sammy Watkins emerge as one of the two or three best wide receivers in college football as first-year starting quarterback Tajh Boyd enjoys a princely 13-to-1 ratio of touchdown passes to interceptions.
They're wondering how many more points Clemson might have scored against Florida State if freshman D.J. Howard, the Tigers' leading rusher in the Auburn game, hadn't been out with a hamstring injury.
Tulsa opened the 2010 season with a 51-49 loss to East Carolina. The Golden Hurricane finished 10-3 and scored 52 or more points in four of its last seven games -- all wins, one of which was a 28-27 upset win at Notre Dame.
Freeman sees similarities.
"We had a chance to score 50 or 60 points (against Florida State)," he said of the 35-30 victory. "We made just silly mistakes that we just shouldn't be making. We're just searching for that complete game. If we play a complete game, we're going to overwhelm people."
'I love road games'
Lane Stadium is hard on strangers. Clemson players got a nice sendoff, however, from the Florida State band and a large contingent of Seminoles fans last week at Death Valley. They were so loud in the lower west end zone seats, Boyd didn't hear teammates yelling from the sideline when wide receiver Nuke Hopkins was lined up uncovered near the goal-line.
That wasn't the only snap Clemson was forced to use a silent count in the Florida State end, a useful lesson; Swinney says a key at Virginia Tech will be "execution with extreme noise" against Foster's typically ferocious eight-man front.
Some Tigers are looking forward to the trip.
"I love road games," fifth-year right tackle Landon Walker said. "How many times do you get a chance to be booed. I love being called 'fat.' It's fun."
Not sure if Walker is a large cat or a massive mouse or a chess piece.
Very sure that Clemson will have to adjust and counter-punch its way out of Blacksburg, and that no game this season will provide a greater learning experience for an offense aiming to overwhelm.