CLEMSON, S.C. — Clemson first-year offensive coordinator Chad Morris has already heard more than he wanted about the Tigers’ last trip to Virginia Tech.
The miserable trek to Blacksburg in 2006 ended in a 24-7 rout by the Hokies.
“That’s one of the things I keep hearing is how Clemson got hit in the mouth and ‘How quick can we get back to the bus?’ ” Morris said. “And that’s something I know coach (Dabo) Swinney’s going to talk to our players about.”
Clemson was one of the hottest teams in the country, winners of six in a row and No. 10 in the country. But the Hokies’ decisive win started a second-half slide for the Tigers.
Now 13th-ranked Clemson (4-0, 1-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) faces a similar challenge this week – though hoping for a different result – when the Tigers play their first road game of this season at No. 11 Virginia Tech.
The Tigers have risen rapidly in the rankings with consecutive wins over defending national champion Auburn and ACC powerhouse Florida State and are off to their best start in four years.
Clemson has gained nearly 1,100 yards in the past two high-profile wins. Quarterback Tajh Boyd leads the ACC with 13 touchdowns and 1,255 yards. The first-year starter also leads the conference in total offense. Freshman receiver Sammy Watkins has caught 14 passes for 296 yards and four touchdowns the past two games.
Boyd and Watkins both repeated this week as ACC offensive back and receiver of the week.
“We know if we go out and do our jobs, it’s highly likely that we’ll be successful,” left tackle Phillip Price said.
Then again, this team hasn’t faced a test like Virginia Tech.
The Hokies (4-0) are known for their hard-nosed attitude, especially at home and with the defense of longtime coordinator Bud Foster. Virginia Tech defensive ends James Gayle and J.R. Collins combined for four sacks and 12 tackles last Saturday in a 30-10 victory at Marshall.
“We’ve had some fast guys in the past and when we’re fast coming off that edge, we’re usually pretty good,” Hokies coach Frank Beamer said.
Beamer knows the Hokies haven’t faced a team yet this year like the Tigers.
“They have a lot of dynamic players and they are a dynamic football team,” Beamer said. “We understand that we have a really good football team coming in Saturday.”