Clemson vs. SC State: Tigers Get Back on Track Against the Bulldogs
Clemson vs. SC State: Tigers Get Back on Track Against the Bulldogs.
Everyone, welcome back. Football returned to Death Valley after far too long as the Tigers faced the South Carolina State Bulldogs. Following last week’s defensive showdown with Georgia, I found all of the chatter from SEC fans (e.g., ESPN) that the Clemson dynasty was gone and that the playoff will include several SEC teams amusing. It’s a little early to be making such claims, particularly since the game was won by a pick-six. At your risk, count the Tigers out. Today’s game was supposed to be a showcase for the Tiger starters’ backups.
I was just able to pick up the game at the 9-minute mark of the first quarter since the Syracuse-Rutgers game was going late, and Clemson was already up by 7 on a 4-yard D.J. Uiagalelei run. Will Shipley scored from 7 yards out on the following Tiger possession to put the Tigers up 14-0 with 7:20 remaining in the first quarter.
The Bulldogs faced 3rd and 17 situations and were unable to complete the pass, thus they punted. On 1st down, Ajou Ajou had an 8-yard gain, and on 3rd down, Kobe Pace had a 28-yard rush to the Bulldog 20. The Tigers continued to give it to Pace, and I was reminded of the Danny Ford era as the Tiger offensive line drove defenders back and Pace continued to tear off big chunks of yards up the middle. That sort of domination against similarly good defenses would be great to witness. On a 2-yard run, Pace reached the end zone. With 3:32 remaining in the first quarter, Clemson was up 21-0.
B.T. Potter’s kick into the end zone was fair-caught, placing SC State on the 25-yard line. 3rd & 7 was set up by a short run and an incomplete pass.
Bulldog quarterback Corey Fields Jr. overthrows his receiver due to pressure from the Tiger defensive line. Will Taylor returned a punt 51 yards, weaving past several SC State tacklers. Clemson went up 21-0 after DJ struck Justyn Ross in the end zone. On their drive, the Bulldogs made a few nice plays but forced to punt, pinning Clemson inside the 5-yard line. Clemson failed to make any progress on their drive and punted.
Bulldog RB Kendrell Flowers pulled off a 17-yard rush from their 47, but R.J. Mickens intercepted a Bulldog throw. D.J. quickly returned the favor with a sloppy hitch pass. South Carolina State made a good drive but had to punt. Clemson seized control at the 16-yard line.
Shipley ripped off a 30-yard run, and Joseph Ngata caught and ran for 38 yards. After a 5-yard rush, D.J. was in the end zone a few plays later. With 6:32 remaining in the half, Clemson was up 35-0.
Flowers ran for another 23 yards for the Bulldogs, but the Tiger defense stiffened and forced a 4th and 2 situation. The Tiger offense took over at the 20-yard line after the punt flew into the end zone.
Clemson made a number of nice plays, but Michael Dukes fumbled due to poor ball handling. SC State made a comeback. The Bulldogs drove inside the Tiger 10 yard line and almost scored on a well-run slant route and a well-thrown ball, but the receiver couldn’t hold on. On 3rd and 5, the Tigers defended effectively, forcing a decent FG attempt. With 19 seconds remaining in the half, Clemson led 35-3. With 12 seconds remaining, a nice return by Shipley and a 5-yard penalty on the Bulldogs placed the Tigers at their 44. Clemson moved to the Bulldog 41 after roughing the passer penalty. The first half concluded after Potter’s 58-yard field goal attempt sailed wide right. It’s difficult to get enthusiastic about thrashing an athletically weaker squad, but there was some progress this week. However, D.J. has to improve on his receivers’ accuracy and timing.
When play restarted, SC State was given the ball first.
The Tigers’ defensive starters kept playing and shut down Georgia’s attack, forcing a three-and-out. Clemson took over at their 35-yard line after the punt. Ngata received a fast pass and scored seven points, but his poor ball-handling almost cost him the game. Next week, I expect there to be a focus on “high and tight” in practice. Shipley had another strong run, and TE Davis Allen gained 22 yards on a middle-of-the-field throw. Shipley capped the drive with a 13-yard run to the end zone a few plays later. The Tigers were up 42-3 at 9:39 of the third quarter.
The Tigers defense’s backups stepped in and earned some valuable repetitions, driving the Bulldogs back and forcing a punt. Clemson’s quarterback is Taisun Phommachanh.
He made some great throws and had a terrific run on a 3rd &1 situation. Will Swinney was nearly in the end zone when he was called for a holding penalty. It didn’t make a difference.
Dixon ran 14 yards for another Tigers touchdown after catching a short throw from Taisun. Clemson led 49-3 at 3:52 of the third quarter.
The Bulldogs drove down the field, capped by a 39-yard throw, to the Tiger 25-yard line. The Tiger defense gave up 17 yards on 4th and 10 after seeming to have stopped the Bulldogs.
A pair of short rushes and an incomplete pass set up 4th & goal with 1st & goal at the 9. SC State attempted the throw, but Tiger LB Keith Maquire jumped in front of it and intercepted it. This season, the Tiger defense has yet to allow a touchdown. The Tiger drive got off to a good start with a sideline grab by Dacari Collins, but a go route on the following play ended with a diving interception by the Bulldog defender. The Bulldogs, on the other hand, we’re unable to capitalize on the situation and punted. Clemson seized control at the 16-yard line.
Taisun had been throwing well, and this interception wasn’t bad, but a little more inside pressure on the receiver could have resulted in a touchdown rather than a pick.
The Tiger backups were unable to move the chains and were forced to punt. On their drive, the Bulldogs put together a few nice plays but couldn’t get into scoring position. Changing possessions did little more than keep the clock ticking. So, as anticipated, the Tigers got the job done today. There is still much room for improvement, but they are on the right track. I see that #3 Ohio State defeat by #12 Oregon. Any guesses on whether ESPN will declare the OSU program doomed this week? Texas A&M defeating unranked Colorado by only three points? “Clemson only defeated South Carolina State by 46 points, therefore they clearly don’t deserve in the playoffs!!!! Sorry, but the ridiculous rhetoric from the SEC/Big 12 folks last week about how everyone is so inferior to their teams has irritated me. It’s been a long season, and we’ve all seen how unpredictable college football can be. Let us know your thoughts in the comments area. As Georgia Tech visits town, we’ll have recaps of today’s game and previews of next week’s games. Thank you for visiting, and we hope to see you again next week.