Pitt at Clemson: 5 Things to Watch For

Five things to keep an eye on when Pitt visits third-ranked Clemson this weekend in what is scheduled to be the Tigers final home game of the season.
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Saturday is Senior Day at Clemson and for a number of Tigers it will be their final time experiencing what Brent Musburger so famously termed "The Most Exciting 25 Seconds in College Football."

It's also Military Appreciation Day, and nobody honors the armed forces quite like Clemson does. The opponent for this weekends festivities is Pitt, who just happens to be the last team to beat the Tigers inside of Death Valley. Clemson has won 27 straight home games since the Panthers pulled off the 43-42 upset win in 2016. 

Five Things To Watch For

1. Senior Day: A number of players will be coming down that hill knowing that it will be the final time they ever play a football game inside of Memorial Stadium. Emotions will be high, on the field and in the stands, as the Clemson faithful gather to watch players like Travis Etienne, Amari Rodgers, and very likely Trevor Lawrence play one final home game. With this being a free year, some may come down still unsure about what the future holds. One thing is certain though, they will all want to go out having put their best foot forward. It might take a few minutes for the emotions to settle, but once they do, expect an inspired effort from this Clemson team

2. Rust or No Rust? Trevor Lawrence has not played since the 47-21 win over Syracuse way back on October 24. For a player who wasn't injured, that is a lot of off time, particularly for a quarterback. Will the junior signal-caller be a little rusty, and if so, how quickly can he shake it off? Expect Tony Elliott to have a plan tailored specifically towards getting Lawrence rolling early. 

3. Pass Rush vs Pass Rush: These are two of the best teams in the country when it comes to getting after the quarterback. Pitt leads the nation in total sacks (38), while the Tigers are tied for second-most (30). Whichever defensive front can wreak the most havoc will go a long ways towards deciding how this one plays out. 

4. Thirteen: With the Tigers struggling to run the ball at times this season, the coaches have needed to find other ways to get Travis Etienne involved in the offense. The senior back has proven himself to be just as lethal catching passes out of the backfield as he is taking a handoff from the quarterback. Etienne comes in with 491 receiving yards and needs just 13 more to break the school record for most in a single season by a running back, which was set back in 2009 by the dynamic C.J. Spiller. 

5. Clemson Receivers vs Pitt Secondary: No Joesph Ngata. No Frank Ladson Jr. Both sophomore wideouts are out injured and that means someone will have to step up and make plays to try and take some of the pressure off of Amari Rodgers and Cornell Powell. Last time both of those guys were out it was Rodgers who slid over to the boundary spot, with Brannon Spector starting in the slot. Do we see the same plan this weekend or has freshman E.J. Williams, who is Ngata's backup, done enough to earn a shot at starting in the boundary? This Pitt defense likes to key on the run and make teams win one-on-one matchups on the outside, so the receivers will need to win their share of those battles. 

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