With capable playmakers and a dynamic offense, Clemson has made a habit of putting of video game-like numbers in games.
Senior linebacker Bruce Taylor is more than aware what the Tigers can do. He saw first-hand in two losses to Clemson last season and he's no more of a fan of high-powered offenses. As a defender, he'd like to put a stop to it.
"I know you guys like to see a bunch of big plays and offenses scoring a whole bunch of points but that isn't a good thing for any defense," Taylor said this week. "We try to stop that. We've given up more points than I would like us to have this year. We've just gotta try to prevent that from happening, doing whatever we can to stop it."
Virginia Tech's defense took a few steps forward in a 41-20 win against Duke. But when the Hokies made mistakes, it was the same ones they'd been making all season, namely tackling and containing. Taylor said that can't happen against Clemson if the road team is to get a win.
"They have tremendous athletes and they're on scholarship as well, so every now and then they might make a guy miss," he said. "But the key is having everybody come to the ball with that same intensity as the first guy. That's what can make it difficult for a team like that, when you don't allow them to get the ball out in space, allow them a lot of yards after the catch. If we can limit those speed sweeps and screens to a minimal game, we'll have a decent chance of stopping that offense."
The Blue Devils' first and only offensive touchdown Saturday came when junior cornerback Kyle Fuller was beaten in man-to-man coverage. Fuller has admitted he's struggled, but he also feels like the secondary as a whole has improved, as players have become comfortable in their assignments.
"As the weeks have been going past, you see guys making plays that maybe they haven't made in the start of the season," he said. "That's what it takes, getting reps and guys are definitely getting comfortable.
"We've been doing the same thing that we've been doing all camp, through the start of the season. Guys were just able to get it done and we needed that."
This week, Virginia Tech has a chance to exact a little revenge on Clemson for its wins over the Hokies last season. Virginia Tech players have publicly said all week they're not looking for payback, but Taylor said it's on everyone's mind.
"It's nothing that we really talk about, it's something that everybody just knows," he said. "They definitely did come in and take a win here and in the ACC championship game they kinda outplayed us, especially in the second half. But like guys have said, it's something that you keep in the back of your mind. You just don't let it overwhelm you because you lose focus for what you really need to be doing. It's not a thing of vengeance, it's just they're our next opponent, they're in the way and we have to try and stop them."
A win would be monumental for the Hokies' season. But it wouldn't erase their three losses to this point.
"I wouldn't say make up because the damage is done," Taylor said. "We lost some games we probably shouldn't have lost and haven't played as well as we should have, but definitely redeeming to where people thought we were better than we were, than what we've shown. I think we've been a lot better than what we've shown. It'd be very nice to go out against Clemson and play like we should have been playing all year, like you saw in the second half of the Duke game."