Clemson's ground game has gone backward the last three weeks, averaging 4.1 yards per rush against Miami, 3.3 against North Carolina and 2.1 against Maryland.
Without a proven vertical passing game, with defenders creeping nearer the line of scrimmage, and with the Tigers struggling to create a push against the Terrapins' defensive front should there be concern?
Not according to Clemson right tackle Landon Walker.
"It's not where you want it to be," said Walker of the rushing average, "but other teams would have had more problems than we did (against Maryland). I thought we did a pretty good a job of getting what we could get out of them.
"I think we were able to adjust and handle some of the things they did."
Miami loaded the box with defenders against Clemson, daring the Tigers to throw deep. Tar Heels safety Deunta Williams said UNC did not fear Clemson's receivers and elected to crash the line of scrimmage.
Maryland often blitzed against the run and pass. Until Clemson proves it can throw the ball down the field opponents will continue to jam the line of scrimmage.
Clemson hosts Georgia Tech and Al Groh's 3-4 defense at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, a defense designed to slow opponents' running games, though Georgia Tech has allowed at least 130 rushing yards in each game.
"(Groh-led Virginia) didn't do a lot of blitzing," Walker said. "The 3-4 defense is an NFL defense, it's there to stop the run, put linebackers on the outside and inside. They are going to line up and say 'you are going to have to push us off the ball in order to run.' It's something we can do. We did it against Virginia last year, it's the same defense."
What can Brown do for Clemson's return game?
Clemson wide receiver Jaron Brown said he knew only one minute before his 41-punt return last Saturday against Maryland that he was going in to field the punt. Brown returned three punts for 52 yards.
Brown was summoned after Marcus Gilchrist suffered a first-half leg injury.
DeAndre Hopkins was also out with an injury.
Brown said he is uncertain whether his role will expand on punt returns.
Clemson special teams coach Andre Powell said last week Gilchrist's role will decrease to keep him fresh on defense.
Hopkins is expected to share punt return duties with Gilchrist.