Boston College at Clemson: 5 Things to Watch For

JP-Priester

Fans have been clamoring to see freshman D.J. Uiagalelei turned loose in this Clemson offense. It seems they will now get their wish.

For the first time in his Clemson career, Trevor Lawrence will not be available for this weekends noon matchup with Boston College. The junior quarterback tested positive for Covid-19 and according to ACC guidelines must remain in isolation for at least ten days. 

The top-ranked Tigers are coming off a 47-21 win over Syracuse in which the offense wasn't at its sharpest and with what looks to be an improved BC team coming into Death Valley this weekend, it will be imperative for it not to happen a second consecutive week.

Five Things To Watch For:

1. Quarterback: It is assumed that D.J Uiagalelei will be making his first career start. The freshman quarterback has appeared in all but one game this season but has yet to really be put into any high pressure situations. There is no question about how talented he is, however you never know how a young player like Uiagalelei will respond until they are put into these kind of situations. The freshman has been dealing with shoulder issues the last few weeks and that will be another thing to keep an eye on. 

2. Offensive Line: With no Lawrence, it is safe to assume that means an increased workload for Travis Etienne and the stable of running backs the Tigers have on the roster. A successful running game is the best way to ease the pressure on a young, inexperienced quarterback making his first career start. Having said all that, this team is having a tougher time opening up rushing lanes than it has in years past and this Boston College defense will likely come in with a plan that would force the Tigers to beat them through the air. Six games in, it is time for this offensive line to step up and pave the way. 

3. Secondary: When this group has been at full-strength they have been good. Derion Kendrick is expected back after missing the Syracuse game with an injury and the Clemson pass defense is much better with him on the field. This isn't the BC run-heavy offense fans are used to seeing and it now goes as its passing game goes. How well the backend of the Tigers defense plays will go a long ways towards deciding how this game plays out. 

4. Injuries: At the halfway point of the season, injuries are starting to mount for this Clemson team and it is mostly the defense that has been affected. Justin Foster has been out all season. Xavier Thomas is just getting back. James Skalski is out for the foreseeable future. Jordan Williams was out last week. Tyler Davis probably won't be back before Notre Dame. Mike Jones Jr. was banged up last weekend in the win over Syracuse. This Clemson program has always prided itself on a next man up mentality it will be needed on Saturday. 

5. Joseph Ngata: After winning a starting job prior to the season, the sophomore wideout has had issues getting on the field due to an abdominal strain. After playing more than 30 snaps against Syracuse, it appears Ngata is close to being fully back. With Frank Ladson being inconsistent at times and now with Lawrence out, the Tigers need someone to step up and separate themselves at that boundary spot. They need that guy who can help his quarterback out and do so when its needed most, in the biggest moments. 

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