12/29: Quick Reaction: Clemson Clobbers ND in Cotton Bowl 30-3

Dallas, TX – The phrase “a game of two halves” is commonly said, but the Cotton Bowl was a game of two quarters. 

The first quarter was a defensive slugfest – neither team could take control despite the numerous opportunities. Clelin Ferrell’s early tackle, forced fumble, and fumble recovery of Ian Book near midfield was the first big play of the game. 

Clemson scored three points off the turnover (40-yd Huegel field goal), and Notre Dame responded by marching to the nine-yard line before settling for a 28-yard Justin Yoon field goal. 

Derion Kendrick returned Yoon’s subsequent kickoff to the fifteen-yard line, where he fumbled the ball. The original ruling was that Notre Dame recovered the ball, but the booth and the big screen in “Jerry’s World” overturned the call and stated that the fumble was out of bounds before Notre Dame recovered the football. 

The call was made by the thinnest of margins – no one knows if it was indisputably out of bounds or not. It was the first in a series of lucky events for the Tigers. Notre Dame suffered various injuries on defense, 

With star cornerback Julian Love absent, Lawrence threw a 52-yard sideline touchdown to fellow freshman Justyn Ross early in the second quarter. The extra point was blocked, and the score was an easily surmountable 9-3 lead for Clemson. When the Tigers next drive ended in a missed 49-yard field goal by Greg Huegel, questions still lingered. 

Clemson’s defense held on long enough to let the offense gain momentum, or Notre Dame buckled under the weight of injuries. Either way you spin it, Trevor Lawrence took control of the game, erased the questions, and never looked back. 

Notre Dame was exposed in the middle of the field by Lawrence’s second touchdown throw to Ross – a 42-yard throw to put Clemson up 16-3 with less than two minutes in the half.

Despite the star power of Lawrence and the passing attack, the ferocious Tiger defense kept Notre Dame in check throughout the first half. For one last time, they stymied the Irish’s scoring hopes and gave Clemson 48 seconds to score. 

When Renfrow’s 32-yard catch had a 15-yard roughing the passer penalty attached to it, the Tigers took their final time-out. They had nineteen yards and nine seconds to work with. 

Tee Higgins dropped a wide open touchdown pass earlier in the game, but he redeemed himself with an incredible catch of a spinning tipped ball in the back of the end zone. 

What was a 9-3 lead with 4:56 left in the first half was now a 23-3 lead entering halftime. Originally a slugfest, the Cotton Bowl was close to becoming a blowout. 

The third quarter was similar to the first – the main difference was the scoreboard. 

The first four drives of the half were fruitless, as Clemson couldn’t extend their lead and Ian Book couldn’t put the offense on his shoulders and come back from the deficit. 

As Notre Dame neared the red zone, Ian Book’s third-and-22 pass was snatched by Nolan Turner, with the sideline erupting for the lightly recruited safety. Three plays later, Etienne broke Wayne Gallman’s Clemson single-season rushing record with a 62-yard rushing touchdown to give Clemson a 30-3 lead with two minutes left in the third quarter.

In an odd and controversial occurance on the last play of the third quarter, Isaiah Simmons’ strip and scoop for a touchdown was ruled ineligible for review because it was labeled forward progress. While the outcome of the game was virtually decided, it was an interesting sequence of events that elicited cheers and boos throughout the stadium.

The fourth quarter was mostly uneventful as the Tigers finished the last fifteen minutes of football to ensure that they would play in the national championship for the third time in four years. 

12/29: Cotton Bowl Halftime Report

Score: Clemson 23 Notre Dame 3

Key Events:

Derion Kendrick’s kickoff return was initially ruled a fumble inside the ten, but it was overturned by a sliver (out of bounds) and thus Notre Dame lost a chance to make a 3-3 tie a 10-3 lead.

The game was a defensive slugfest until Julian Love left the game with an injury – Trevor Lawrence took advantage of his absence and threw a 52-yard touchdown to Justyn Ross, the first of three first-half touchdown throws. Clemson’s last touchdown with two seconds remaining may have been the dagger for the Irish.

Positives:

Trevor Lawrence has moved within the pocket well, evading defenders multiple times to fire off a pass. Justyn Ross has played exceptionally well as his current favorite target, with five catches, 137 yards, and two scores at the half.

Clemson’s defense held on while Clemson’s offense established a rhythm and built a lead – now the Tigers can play with their ears pinned back and even more aggressively.

Areas for Improvement:

Clemson’s pass protection is not doing Trevor Lawrence any favors. Despite his two scoring touchdowns, he has taken major hits that could impact his play in the second half.

The Tigers have made several poor plays on special teams: a barely overturned fumble on a kickoff return, a missed 49-yard field goal, a blocked extra point, and a punting average of 38 yards per punt make for a discouraging special teams performance.

What to Watch:

Clemson’s last touchdown with two seconds left in the half gave the Tigers a major boost into halftime. If Notre Dame wants to close the 20-point lead, they will need to have Julian Love and others healthy, and gain offensive momentum fast.

12/27: Cotton Bowl Preview

Unless Oklahoma wins the national championship, an undefeated team will win the national championship for the first time in the CFP’s five-year history. Furthermore, if Clemson or Alabama wins the champion will be the first 15-0 FBS National Champion. Two of the three undefeated teams will face off in the infamous stadium known as “Jerry’s World” as the Cotton Bowl hosts Clemson and Notre Dame. 

Each team has faced adversity throughout the year, but this will be each team’s toughest test. Notre Dame has the signature win against a highly ranked opponent that Clemson does not have – a 24-17 win against Michigan in the season opener. On the other hand, Clemson played an extra game when they defeated Pittsburgh in the ACC Championship game.

To get the elephant out of the way – it is unlikely that Dexter Lawrence, Braden Galloway, or Zach Giella will play in the Cotton Bowl. Coach Swinney expressed his support for the trio as they tested positive for trace amounts of a banned substance likely found in dietary supplements (unmarked). Losing junior draft prospect Dexter Lawrence will hurt Clemson significantly in the Cotton Bowl, while losing current role players Giella and Galloway will hurt in 2019 as they will likely face a one-year suspension. While the suspensions are unfortunate, Clemson has depth at the defensive tackle position to handle the loss of Lawrence.

Both teams changed quarterbacks midstream from more run-centric players to more pass-centric players and subsequently transformed their offenses into complete threats. Both of senior quarterbacks lead their teams to signature wins (Notre Dame vs Michigan, Clemson at Texas A&M). Notre Dame’s junior Ian Book replaced Brandon Wimbush while Clemson’s true freshman Trevor Lawrence replaced Kelly Bryant. 

Notre Dame runs the ball slightly more than Clemson, and they tend to rely on one running back. Dexter Williams is Notre Dame’s starting running back, and he has averaged almost eighteen attempts per game in his eight games. Clemson utilizes more running backs than Notre Dame, as Etienne only carries the ball 13.5 times per game. 

 In the passing game, both teams are formidable but the storyline is flipped. Clemson passes more than Notre Dame and uses more receivers (eight WRs with ten or more catches), whereas Notre Dame relies on their three main wide receivers more often. What Notre Dame has that Clemson lacks is a true threat from the tight end in the passing game – Alize Mack has 34 catches on the year, which is almost double the seventeen catches Clemson’s tight ends have combined in 2018.

While both defensive and offensive lines for both teams are quality, Clemson holds the advantage in the trenches. Clemson’s incredibly deep defensive line will cause problems for any offensive line, especially one that is good but not elite like Notre Dame’s. 

The Irish have an excellent passing defense, but in order to take advantage of it they will have to make Trevor Lawrence uncomfortable in the pocket (see the first half of the Boston College game). While the Irish have two excellent defensive ends in Julian Okwara and Khalid Kareem, it takes more than two linemen to generate a pass rush for sixty minutes. 

Notre Dame’s back seven is among the best in the nation, with Julian Love as an elite corner and Jerry Tillery as an elite linebacker. Their linebackers are capable of containing Clemson’s run game, and their secondary is a big reason why they boast an elite passing defense. This will be the Tigers’ toughest test on defense, as there is no weak link to exploit.

The pundits and bookies think that Clemson should win this game easily, and on paper it looks as if they should. Championship football is usually close though, and in that case special teams plays a vital role. The Tigers have been up and down on special teams this year, and they need an elite performance on special teams to win if the game is close.  

Oddshark’s projected score is Clemson 45.8 – Notre Dame 31, and Clemson is favored by 12.5 points. The over/under is 56.5, and sixty percent of the bets have been placed on the over. 

Prediction: Clemson 31 Notre Dame 17

Three Tigers Receive ACC Weekly Honors

CLEMSON, S.C. — The Atlantic Coast Conference announced today that quarterback Trevor Lawrence (Co-Quarterback of the Week), offensive lineman John Simpson (Offensive Lineman of the Week) and linebacker Isaiah Simmons (Linebacker of the Week) have earned ACC Player of the Week honors for their performances in Clemson’s 41-6 win against Syracuse on Saturday.

With the three selections, Clemson has now collected a total of 463 ACC weekly honors since 1978. It marks the third time since 2018 that Clemson has had three players earn weekly honors in a single week, joining the Texas A&M and South Carolina games last season.

Lawrence’s selection is his first of the season and the sixth of his career. He joins Woody Dantzler, Tajh Boyd and Deshaun Watson as the only Clemson quarterbacks to earn six career ACC weekly honors. Lawrence completed 22-of-39 passes for a career-high 395 yards with three passing touchdowns in addition to tying his career high with 42 rushing yards and rushing for a touchdown for a third consecutive game.

Simpson’s selection is the second of his career and his second in as many weeks. He becomes the first Clemson offensive lineman to earn weekly honors in back-to-back weeks since Mitch Hyatt against Georgia Tech and NC State in 2017. Clemson’s offensive line held Syracuse’s potent pass rush without a sack and helped power Clemson to more than 600 yards of offense for the second time in three games this season.

Simmons’ selection is the first of his career. He became the first Clemson linebacker to earn ACC Linebacker of the Week since Dorian O’Daniel following a 2017 contest against Virginia Tech. The Clemson coaching staff credited him with 11 tackles including career highs in tackles for loss (3.5) and sacks (2.0).

The honor is the second received by Simmons for his performance last week. On Sunday, Simmons collected National FBS Defensive Player of the Week honors from the Walter Camp Football Foundation, becoming the ninth Clemson player to receive Walter Camp National Player of the Week honors since 2004 and the second to do so this season, joining Travis Etienne following his performance in the season opener against Georgia Tech.

ACC Announces Football Game Times & Networks for September 28

GREENSBORO, N.C. (theACC.com) – The Atlantic Coast Conference announced the following football game times and networks for the week of Sept. 28.

 

Friday, Sept. 27

Duke at Virginia Tech, 7 p.m., ESPN – as previously announced

 

Saturday, Sept. 28

Holy Cross at Syracuse, Noon, ACCN

Delaware at Pitt, 12:30 p.m., RSN

Clemson at North Carolina, 3:30 p.m., ABC or ESPN – network designation after the games of Sept. 21

Wake Forest at Boston College, 3:30 p.m., ACCN

Georgia Tech at Temple, 3:30 p.m., CBSSN – as previously announced

Virginia at Notre Dame, 3:30 p.m., NBC – as previously announced

NC State at Florida State, 7:30 p.m., ACCN

 

Open Dates: Louisville, Miami

 

All times are Eastern.

Clemson Extendeds School Record 18 Game Win Streak in 41-6 Win Over Syracuse 

Syracuse, N.Y. – No. 1/1 Clemson set a school record for consecutive wins in its 40-6 win over Syracuse at The Dome on Saturday night. The Tigers’ (3-0, 2-0 ACC) 18 consecutive win surpassed the mark of 17 set in 2014-15. The Tiger defense recorded eight sacks and held Syracuse (1-2, 0-1 ACC) to 187 yards of offense.

Trevor Lawrence set a new career high in passing yards in the Clemson win. Lawrence completed 22-39 passes for 395 yards and three touchdowns.The quarterback rushed for 42 yards and found the endzone in the second quarter for his third rushing touchdown of the season.

Amari Rodgers recorded his first two receiving touchdowns of the season, including a 87-yard touchdown from Lawrence in the third quarter. Rodgers, in his second game back from an ACL injury, finished with 121 receiving yards.

The Clemson defense held the Orange to just 51 yards in the second half. The Tigers’ registered eight sacks, with six different players recording one. The defense sacked Tommy DeVito six times in the first half, the most sacks in a half since defeating Auburn in 2017. 

Clemson will be back in action on Sept. 21 against the Charlotte 49’ers at Memorial Stadium. The game will be broadcasted on ACC Network with a kickoff time of 7:30 pm.

9/14: Clemson Pulls Away Late in Syracuse Scare, Wins 41-6

Reporting from South Carolina – Remember when Clemson’s offense was going to bail out the fresh Tiger defense? Remember when Clemson’s offense and their star quarterback inexplicably struggled in September? Pepperidge Farms remembers – both in 2016 and 2019.

 

Clemson appeared to have conquered the old haunt of the Carrier Dome early in the first quarter. First, Trevor Lawrence sliced the Orange defense apart and capped it off with a 16-yard strike down the seam to ‘Bionic Man’ Amari Rodgers. Lawrence followed it up next drive with an ice-cold one yard run in the end zone where he beat the end around the edge and stared him down as he jogged in for six points.

 

Then the spooky magic of the Carrier Dome entered the equation. Clemson’s defense dominated Syracuse’s shuffled and befuddled offensive line, but Clemson’s offense failed to capitalize in an equally frustrating manner – scoring one field goal on their next six drives.

 

The long awaited knockout punch seemed as if it was never going to come as Clemson’s exciting 14-0 lead aged into a worrisome 17-6 advantage at halftime.

 

The beginning of the second half felt worse –  Trevor Lawrence threw a telegraphed interception (intended for Tee) that was returned to the nine-yard line. Venables’ defense bailed out the offense as Goodrich intercepted a pressured DeVito on the next play.

 

Clemson’s one impressive player on offense was its most unlikely candidate: Amari “Bionic Man” Rodgers, in his second game back from his ACL tear five months ago (what a miraculous recovery).

 

He took a short Lawrence pass in the flat 87 yards down the sideline to the house as he stayed in bounds after the catch by less than a millimeter. After a super long review, the Tigers extended their lead to 24-6, but the tricks weren’t over yet.

 

Lawrence threw yet another telegraphed interception, but the game was sealed when the defender was tackled at the three-yard line. The ‘Air Raid’ Orange lined up in a power-goal line formation that Venables’ defense snuffed out for four consecutive downs in the middle of the third quarter.

 

Syracuse’s six total points on four trips to the red zone proved to be the decisive factor in the matchup. Venables’ defense simply reloaded and completely shut down the Orange offense in every meaningful way possible.

 

Clemson’s offense tacked on several late scores to make the final score 41-6, improving to 3-0 (2-0 ACC) on the year. The game harkened back to early 2016 in more ways than one – the Tigers usually struggle early in the season and are still finding their offensive identity.

 

All wins count the same in the record books, but this game was definitely closer than 41-6. How far the Tigers will go this year depends on when the offense finds its identity, and how good it can truly be.

 

 

9/14: Halftime Report: Clemson 17 Syracuse 6

Big Moments: Clemson scored a touchdown on two consecutive drives in the first quarter to go up 14-0. Etienne and Higgins left the game for short periods due to injuries.

Positives: Clemson’s defense has stifled the Orange all night in large part due to their pass rush. Venables is playing mind games with the Orange offensive line that is rearranged due to injury. Syracuse’s offense has only performed well on two drives, and on both drives they settled for field goals.

Room for Improvement: Clemson has dominated the game everywhere but the scoreboard as they fail to capitalize on their opportunities and ‘click’. The Syracuse defense is vulnerable, but the Tigers have failed to turn the talent differential into points.

What to Watch For: With several questionable hits by the Orange, the Tigers main goal after winning will be to escape injury free. The other question is when will Clemson deliver the knockout blow? The game doesn’t feel close at all but its an odd game, and when teams hang around upsets can happen. If Clemson doesn’t come out with the gas pedal to the floor – things could get interesting.

 

9/14: Clemson Syracuse Preview

Broad Overview: Syracuse is a solid ACC program on the rise that looks to be in a rebuilding year. This will be their first game at home, defeating Liberty on the road 24-0 and losing to Maryland away 63-20. Turnover differential is a volatile year-to-year statistic, and Syracuse was exceptionally lucky in the turnover department last year. It doesn’t help that impressive quarterback Eric Dungey graduated either.

Believe it or not, Syracuse actually returns three first team All-ACC players from 2018. One of Syracuse’s best players isn’t draft eligible yet, as true sophomore safety Andre Cisco was a first team All-ACC pick as a freshman last year. In addition to both specialists and Cisco, defensive end Alton Robinson (2nd team all ACC) leads the Orange on defense as the 25th ranked prospect on The Draft Network’s 2020 Big Board.

In addition to Syracuse being better in 17 and 18 than they likely are this year, both games involved injuries to Clemson’s starting quarterback. Kelly Bryant probably played at less than full health (despite coaching staff assurances) in 2017, and Trevor Lawrence leaving the game combined with the saga of Bryant leaving in 2018 (and CJ Fuller’s death) introduced hard-to-quantify factors in the game last year.

Syracuse has struggled at linebacker so far this season, which means that Etienne and Lyn-J could dominate on the ground in the Carrier Dome if the Tigers jump to an early lead.

Oddshark Segment: Clemson is favored by 27.5 points, and 56% of bets have Clemson covering the spread. The over/under is 64.5 points and 65% of betters have taken the over. Oddshark’s projected score is 54.6 Clemson to 19.5 Syracuse.

William’s Take: Dino Babers is an excellent coach with an excellent scheme who has done a wonderful job at Syracuse. The Orange have the potential to cause Clemson problems (see 2017 and 2018), but Clemson is akin to FSU in the 1990s with its run of dominance in ACC play. This doesn’t look to be Syracuse’s year to challenge Clemson (UNC looks excellent however) – Clemson 48 Syracuse 17

Allstate and the AFCA announce Clemson’s Dabo Swinney as honorary head coach of the 27th annual roster

The American Football Coaches Association announced today that Clemson Head Coach Dabo Swinney has been named honorary head coach of 2019 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team for his leadership in the Clemson community and commitment to giving back.

 

Swinney is the sixth member of the Clemson program all-time to earn an AFCA Good Works Team distinction, joining Robert Carswell (1999), Nick Eason (2000), Xavier Dye (2009), Deshaun Watson (2016) and Sean Pollard (2018).

 

Since 2009, the Swinney family and Dabo’s All In Team Foundation have given nearly $5 million back to communities and programs in the state.

————-

 

Twenty-Two College Football Players Named to the
2019 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team
®

 

 

NORTHBROOK, Ill., Sept. 12, 2019 – Allstate and the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) select 22 student-athletes and one honorary coach for the 2019 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team®. Narrowed from a list of 137 nominees by an esteemed panel of judges, including Kirk Herbstreit (ESPN) and Tim Tebow (Florida, 2009 team), these players stood out for their leadership in local communities and overall commitment to giving back.

 

“Because being a student-athlete is about more than their performance on the field, we’re honored to share the stories of these deserving young men who embody the ‘good’ in college athletics,” said John O’Donnell, president of Allstate’s Western Territory. “At Allstate, we are inspired by their positive impact and we unite in this passion to serve local communities.”

 

The team acts of service range from the founding of an organization that serves the homeless, to raising research funds for the rare disease community. Nearly all are involved in local youth mentorship initiatives, and the team has collectively volunteered thousands of hours to better the lives of those in their communities.

 

“I’ve had the privilege of not only being a member of the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team, but also witnessing firsthand how these young men are able to inspire and ultimately change the lives of those around them,” said Tim Tebow, two-time national champion and former Allstate AFCA Good Works Team member. “Each year, I’m impressed by the way that Allstate and the AFCA share the important stories of these players’ ‘good works,’ and I’m honored to be part of such a special program that has become a source of inspiration in the college football community.”

 

The following players and honorary head coach are named to the 2019 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team:

 

Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS)

Koby Quansah Duke University
Denzel Goolsby Kansas State University
James Smith-Williams NC State University
Connor Wedington Stanford University
Isaiah Sanders U.S. Air Force Academy
Marcel Dancy University of California
Jake Fromm University of Georgia
Bryce Torneden University of Kansas
Landon Young University of Kentucky
Tre Tipton University of Pittsburgh
Spencer Eason-Riddle University of South Carolina

 

Combined Divisions (FCS, II, III & NAIA)

Danny Munoz Bethel University (Minn.)
George Hatalowich Davidson College
Ryan Landis Frostburg State University
Josh Pearson Jacksonville State University
Aaron Feazelle Mississippi College
Jacob Katzer Morningside College
Ben Ellefson North Dakota State University
Ben Bartch Saint John’s University (Minn.)
Dante Olson University of Montana
Ryan Oliver Utica College (NY)
Luke Bevilacqua Wayne State University (Mich.)

 

Honorary Head Coach

Dabo Swinney Clemson University

 

The Allstate AFCA Good Works Team will be invited to the 2020 Allstate® Sugar Bowl® and will join Tebow and Allstate volunteers to give back to New Orleans through a special community service project. Allstate will recognize the team during the halftime show.

 

Fans are invited to visit ESPN.com/Allstate to vote for the 2019 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team captain once per day, now through Nov. 22. The team captain will be honored at The Home Depot College Football Awards on ESPN later this season.

 

The Allstate AFCA Good Works Team was selected by an esteemed voting panel, which includes Tebow, Herbstreit and O’Donnell, along with: Zaid Abdul-Aleem (Duke, 1994 team); Matt Stinchcomb (Georgia, 1997, 1998 teams); Brian Brenberg (St. Thomas, 2001 team); Mike Proman (Amherst, 2002 team); Wes Counts (Middle Tennessee State, 1999 team); media members Blair Kerkhoff (Kansas City Star), and Paul Myerberg (USA TODAY); Frank Solich, 2019 AFCA President and Ohio University Head Coach; and Joe Taylor, 2001 AFCA President and athletic director at Virginia Union University.

 

“This is the 12th year that Allstate has partnered with the AFCA to help honor deserving football student-athletes on the Good Works Team,” AFCA Executive Director Todd Berry said. “This award embodies what is great about the human spirit, football student-athletes and coaches from all parts of the country dedicated to one thing, giving of their time and energy to make a difference in their communities.”

 

Throughout the season, fans can follow along and join the conversation by using #GoodWorksTeam on their social media channels to learn more about these incredible players and their stories.

 

About the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team

The Allstate AFCA Good Works Team was established in 1992, by the College Football Association, to recognize extra efforts by players and student support staff off the field. AFCA became the governing body of the award in 1997 and continues to honor players who go the extra mile for those in need. Allstate became the presenting sponsor starting with the 2008 season.

 

Since the recognition program began, the SEC leads all conferences with 75 athletes, followed by the Atlantic Coast Conference with 43, and the Big 12 Conference with 35. Georgia is in first place with 20 honorees, followed by Kentucky and Nebraska with 15. Super Bowl XLII, XLVI and XLI champion quarterbacks Eli and Peyton Manning were members of the 2002 and 1997 Allstate AFCA Good Works Teams, respectively.

 

About the AFCA

The AFCA was founded in 1922 and currently has more than 11,000 members around the world ranging from the high school level to the professional ranks. According to its constitution, the AFCA was formed, in part, to “maintain the highest possible standards in football and in the coaching profession” and to “provide a forum for the discussion and study of all matters pertaining to football.”

 

# # #

9/8: Tigers Stifle Aggies 24-10 In Death Valley Heat, Crowd

Clemson, SC (reporting from home due to sudden illness) –

 

Trevor Lawrence returned to form, and Kellen Mond had a bad game. That was enough for Clemson to dominate A&M in a 24-10 slugfest.

 

It took a quarter for Clemson to fire on all cylinders, though. BT Pottter missed a 47-yard field goal on Clemson’s opening possession in what proved to be a mostly uneventful first quarter.

 

The Aggies spent most of the first quarter ‘establishing the run’ with relative success, playing keep away and converting a 4th-and-1 on the ground.

 

Establishing the run isn’t what matters though, just ask Clemson. Elite running back Travis Etienne was bottled up by Elko’s excellent defense, and the Tigers only gained 46 yards (18 att.) on the ground in the first half.

 

What matters is the quarterback and the passing game, and that is where Clemson holds a distinct advantage and will as long as Trevor Lawrence is the healthy starting quarterback.

 

Lawrence didn’t even set records in the hottest kickoff in Death Valley’s history – he didn’t need to.

 

The first ‘wow’ moment was the dagger – where Clemson won the game. Fisher’s game plan was to bottle up Etienne at all costs, but in doing so he failed to account for the transcendent quarterback in shotgun.

 

Lawrence saw he was under pressure, so he rolled left all the way near the sideline. At the last moment, he flipped his hips and launched a 30-yard pass to the end zone where two Clemson receivers were open and waiting.

 

Ross and Higgins made several incredible catches, Amari Rodgers returned to action with loud cheers, and Clemson’s defense stymied the Aggies as they raced through the second quarter to a 17-3 halftime lead.

 

The second half mainly consisted of Clemson clamping its hold onto the lead, and Texas A&M frantically trying to force their way back in the game to no avail.

 

Clemson stretched the lead to 24-3 in the middle of the third quarter, and Texas A&M almost responded with an impressive 69-yard drive.

 

Almost. Just when the Aggies were close to scoring, Clemson’s pass rush forced Kellen Mond to underthrow a lob that Tanner Muse snatched out of air on the one-yard line.

 

The Aggies defense (appeared) to do what the Aggies offense couldn’t do and posted points on the board by forcing a safety.*

 

*Until an odd sequence of events occurred. The referees called a twelve men on the field penalty against the Aggies, negating the safety. The call was blatantly wrong, which the referee acknowledged after a long video review. However – because the whistle was blown prior to the snap, the play could not be reversed and the play didn’t happen.

 

While Venables won the matchup of minds, Jimbo Fisher managed to fit in a final jab as Wydermyer scored the lone touchdown with six seconds left in the game to cover the spread and earn some pride.

 

The difference in this long-awaited matchup doesn’t appear on paper – the box score nor the recruiting stars.

 

What were the differences? The superior conditioning of the Clemson players. The NFL-level talent in the Tigers aerial attack. Kellen Mond failing to repeat last years’ gutsy impressive performance.

 

The differences were the intangibles.

9/8: Halftime Report – Clemson 17 Texas A&M 3

Big Moments: Clemson’s BT Potter missed an 47-yard field goal, and Texas A&M responded by kicking a 32-yard field goal to take the lead (instead of running a fake field goal with the kicker as a lead blocker a la Alabama).

Trevor Lawrence sparked Clemson’s previously struggling offense by rolling out to his left near the sideline, flipping his hips, and throwing a 30-yard touchdown strike to two Clemson players in the same end zone space (Ross caught the score).

Amari Rodgers made his debut with a roar from the crowd after his ACL tear during Spring.

What Went Well: Due to a combination of Clemson’s solid pass defense, A&M’s run-first game plan, and Kellen Mond’s inaccuracy, the Aggies haven’t seriously threatened the Tigers through the air. Conversely, Trevor Lawrence and the stable of receivers have made NFL level throws and catches on the regular.

Areas to Improve: Clemson’s rushing defense has struggled as the linebackers have missed several tackles in addition to allowing A&M to convert on a 4th-and-1 rushing play. The Aggies game plan has been focused on stopping Etienne and they have largely succeeded.

What to Watch For: What makes matters worse for the Aggies is that Clemson gets the ball back to start the second half after the late touchdown to end the half. A&M’s double digit deficit could increase, forcing Mond to throw the Aggies back in the game in order to have a chance.

 

9/5: Clemson Texas A&M Preview

Broad Overview:

 

The Tiger’s (likely) toughest test of the 2019 regular season is this weekend, as they will face an elite game day coach and a talented team in Jimbo Fisher’s Aggies. Clemson Offensive coordinator Jeff Scott praised his abilities as an elite play caller, schematic mind, and game day coach.

 

While Venables is unquestionably the best defensive coordinator in the nation, DC Mike Elko is in the group right vying for second place, with names like Bud Foster, Jay Bateman, and others. He turned down head coaching offers to remain with the Aggies and will make 2.1 million dollars in 2019.

 

The Aggies are among the best teams in terms of talent that Clemson will face in the regular season. Despite the loss of all-conference players TE Jace Sterenberger and RB Traveyon Williams, the Aggies still have formidable talent and several NFL prospects.

 

All-SEC punter Braden Mann has returned for his senior season, boasting an average of almost 51 yards per punt last year and a 71% touchback percentage.

 

Additionally, the Aggies have three players on The Draft Network’s Top 200 rankings for the 2020 draft. Junior DT Justin Madubuike is one, and the other two are WR Kendrick Rogers and QB Kellen Mond. Madubuike is versatile and won’t be caught with his pads up, so Clemson’s offensive line will have to identify and account for his presence at all times.

 

Rogers is a physically gifted player with a knack for spectacular catches, and he is just as talented as Clemson’s star receivers. He missed most of fall camp with an injury and he was underutilized last season, but he can be a major thorn in the Tigers’ side.

 

Throwing him the ball is junior QB Kellen Mond, who showed his skillset last season with an impressive performance against Clemson. He appears to have improved on his consistency while still retaining the ‘wow’ factor that made him stand out last year. In addition to his excellent arm, he is athletic, mentally tough, and won’t cower in the pocket at the sight of adversity.

 

Oddshark Segment: The consensus is that Clemson will win, and the predicted score is 47.7 to 26.8. Clemson is favored by 17 points, and 63% of bets have Clemson covering the spread. Lastly, 70% of bets have the game going over the line of 64.5 points.

 

William’s Prediction:Clemson is probably the best team in the nation, but college football isn’t won and lost on paper. The Tigers still have kinks to work out that Georgia Tech couldn’t expose or capitalize on, and Texas A&M should be an excellent team in their own right. Clemson 42 Texas A&M 35