CLEMSON, S.C. -- Brandon Streeter felt like a pinball bouncing between Virginia Tech's behemoth defensive linemen.
The Clemson senior quarterback's memories of last season's meeting with the Hokies are far from pleasant. Four interceptions and an embarrassing 37-0 defeat in Death Valley has Streeter searching for redemption in Thursday's nationally televised rematch.
Virginia Tech (2-0) enters ESPN's 8 p.m. contest ranked No. 8 in the Associated Press and coaches polls, its highest ranking ever, and No. 1 in the nation in total defense, allowing just 136.5 yards per game. The Hokies return eight starters on a defensive unit that held the Tigers (1-1) to 126 yards of offense and routinely put Streeter on his back.
"It was a horrible day and we have a lot to prove this year," Streeter said. "It was the most I've been hit. It was frustrating for us.
"Last year they really kicked us around the field."
First-year Clemson coach Tommy Bowden has installed an offensive scheme that may use Virginia Tech's speed and blitz-happy defense as an advantage. Bowden's up-tempo, no-huddle offense relies on quick reads and quicker passes.
If the Hokies blitz and leave cornerbacks in man-to-man coverage, the Tigers may break a few big plays provided Streeter has time. Bowden compared Virginia Tech's speed on defense to Florida State's. He predicted the 6-foot-3, 190-pound Streeter will be hit by the Hokies and stressed the importance of getting the ball away before absorbing the blow.
"The equipment guys need to put more pads on him," Bowden joked. "He's going to get hit probably a little bit harder and more often than he has the first two games.
"The speed of the game defensively will probably pick up a notch or two. His decisions will be the same, they might have to be made faster."
Thursday's contest pits two of the candidates interviewed last winter to fill Clemson's head coaching vacancy. Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer removed himself from consideration following his meeting with school officials.
Beamer has established a perennial Top 25 program in Blacksburg, Va. The 52-year old has guided the Hokies to six consecutive bowl appearances and owns a 79-59-2 record with Tech.
In his 13 seasons at Virginia Tech, Beamer gradually lifted the program to national prominence. Despite lopsided wins over non-conference patsies Alabama-Birmingham and James Madison, Tech has garnered one first-place vote in the Associated Press poll.
The Hokies, led by All-American defensive end Corey Moore, will utilize their speed on defense to combat Clemson's rapid-fire offense. Beamer said the trick to defending the Tigers is preventing three-yard screens from becoming 30-yard gains.
"They spread you out and make you defend the whole field," Beamer said. "What it gets down to is isolation and making plays, you have to make open field tackles."
Freshman quarterback Michael Vick has shaken off the affects of a sprained ankle and is expected to start for the Hokies. Vick poses a double threat for the Tigers. The 6-foot-1, 212-pounder has an accurate arm and runs a 4.33 40.
Bowden said Vick's versatility will restrict his staff's defensive play calling because they must have someone shadow Vick.
"Unfortunately, it's like having another running back at quarterback," Bowden said. "He has good throwing skills. You have to be a lot more disciplined in your rush lanes."
Reach Jimmy DeButts at (706) 823-3221.
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