11/17: Clemson’s Second Half Overpowers Duke in 35-6 Win

Clemson, SC – The phrase “a game of two halves” perfectly summarizes this purple-clad, cold affair as Clemson won 35-6 to advance to 11-0 against Duke.

 

Clemson’s first quarter play didn’t match the electric atmosphere before the game, as Duke took control of the game early. Clemson’s first two drives ended when Lawrence’s two passes to Renfrow on third and short fell incomplete.

 

Usually, Clemson’s defense gives the offense time to figure out their rhythm, but star quarterback Daniel Jones had other plans. While the Blue Devils couldn’t capitalize on their drives with touchdowns, a pair of 32 and 34-yard field goals in the first quarter gave Duke a 6-0 lead to end the first quarter and Clemson fans a heart attack.

 

For a brief glimpse, the Clemson offense found its rhythm – a 41-yard strike to Justyn Ross was followed by a two yard rushing score by Tavien Feaster to put the Tigers up 7-6 early in the second quarter. The euphoria didn’t last as Clemson’s next two drives were three and outs.

 

A Trevor Lawrence laser to Hunter Renfrow on third down normally brings cheers in Death Valley, but when Renfrow drops the ball and has to go to the locker room due to injury, the purple clad Tiger faithful were eerily silent in respect for Renfrow.

 

In between Clemson’s three and outs, Daniel Jones led an unusual eight play, eleven-yard drive. Duke’s fourth down conversion succeeded on a brilliant fake quick-punt play, but a mysterious offensive pass interference call negated the result and forced a punt. Officials called a targeting play on Isaiah Simmons that was overturned, but if it stood it would have been a contender for the worst targeting call of the year. When Duke punted, sophomore linebacker Brandon Hill targeted Amari Rodgers and was ejected from the game.

 

Trevor Lawrence delivered a beautiful would-be touchdown pass that Derion Kendrick dropped on third down to give Duke the ball back. Duke couldn’t muster any offensive success, and this time Clemson capitalized on their second chance.

 

The throws from Lawrence that were previously incomplete were hitting the receivers in stride, and Justyn Ross caught the last two passes for 31 yards and a score to put the Tigers up 14-6 near the end of the half.

 

At the half, Clemson had ten rushes for 17 yards against one of the nation’s worst rushing defenses. The second half would be a far cry from the first half starting from the opening whistle.

 

After a Duke three-and-out, the moment Tiger fans were waiting for arrived. Etienne burst off a 20 yard run to open the drive, and a few plays later he rushed 27 yards to put the Tigers ahead 21-6.

 

Duke marched down the field before missing a long field goal, losing whatever momentum they had and turning the game in favor of Clemson for good. Clemson’s next scoring drive featured two big plays – a 33-yard catch by Derion Kendrick and a 29-yard touchdown rush by Etienne late in the third quarter.

 

Adam Choice was the featured ball carrier (four rushes, 25 yards) on Clemson’s next drive (13 plays, 79 yards) that ended in a ten-yard touchdown pass to veteran receiver TJ Chase early in the fourth quarter.

 

In the first half, Clemson averaged five yards per play but only outgained Duke by 20 yards – as well as dreadfully failing to convert any of their seven third down attempts. Clemson had ten rushing attempts for 17 yards, while Duke had 71 rushing yards on 17 attempts.

 

The second half looked more like the game Clemson fans expected. Clemson scored 21 points to Duke’s zero points, rushed for over seven yards per carry as opposed to Duke’s 1.8 yards per carry, and the Tigers had over 250 yards to Duke’s 87 yards.

 

Daniel Jones completed 24 of his 43 passing attempts for 158 yards in his valiant effort, but Trevor Lawrence had the better game as he completed 21 of his 38 for 251 yards and two scores. Clelin Ferrell’s two sacks pushed him into double digit sack range – he is the first Tiger to achieve this since Carlos Watkins in 2016. Etienne rushed for 81 yards on nine attempts, and he tied the single season rushing touchdown record for a Clemson player with 17. Clemson had yet another game with over 200 yards passing and rushing.

 

Clemson’s first string defense still has not allowed a touchdown since their September 29thwin over Syracuse, and the Tigers are 11-0 heading into their rivalry game with the Gamecocks. On a day where favored teams struggled heavily, Clemson managed to put Duke away by making halftime adjustments to avoid an upset.

11/17: Halftime Analysis – Clemson 14 Duke 6

Score: Clemson 14 Duke 6

Key Events: Duke scored two first quarter field goals to take the lead against Clemson, Clemson then responded with a touchdown. Hunter Renfrow was injured and went to the locker room in the middle of the second quarter.

Positives: Clemson’s pass rush has harassed Daniel Jones all night, and they are hoping that the hits will add up as the game goes on. Clemson’s defense has settled down and stymied the Blue Devils after a shaky start in the first quarter.

Areas for Improvement: Clemson’s offense has struggled all night for various reasons. Trevor Lawrence has put too much heat on his passes, they haven’t ran the ball versus Duke’s porous run defense, and Hunter Renfrow was injured in the second quarter.

What to Watch in the Second Half:

Will Spiers started the game with two excellent punts before two less-than-stellar punts. Every punt will matter in this close game and he will need to have his best game of the year.

Daniel Jones is an incredible quarterback whom is coached by the legendary David Cutcliffe – a great combination to pull off an upset. He will need to continue having an excellent game, survive the hits of the defense, and Cutcliffe will need to make second half adjustments to keep their momentum strong.

Even though it is an over-used cliche, Clemson will need to establish the running game in order to secure the lead in the second half. If Etienne or another running back becomes the hot hand – watch out.

11/16: Clemson Duke Preview

Clemson, SC – Clemson has secured their bid in the ACC Championship game and they were rewarded with two home night games to finish the season. As most fans know by now, Duke is a consistent and well coached team in the Coastal as opposed to their lowly status in earlier decades.

Daniel Jones is arguably the second best quarterback in Duke history behind NFL Hall of Famer Sonny Jurgensen. He is probably the best quarterback Clemson has played all year along with Eric Dungey. He is massive and is fast, evidenced by his long touchdown run against UNC last week. Jones’ achilles heel is inconsistency throwing the ball – which is important to pulling off the upset. Jones and running back Deon Johnson make for an excellent pair of rushing threats that will force Clemson to play disciplined on defense.

Duke’s defense has suffered from injuries, and their rushing defense has been among the worst in the nation as of late. Clemson is more than willing to run the ball on a struggling defense, which could benefit Clemson if they jump to an early lead. If Clemson has another huge day rushing the ball, it won’t be out of necessity but instead out of choice. If linebacker Joe Giles-Harris is healthy and plays against Clemson, he could cause problems for Clemson’s offense.

While it may not be as extreme as the Syracuse game, expect to see both teams run the ball early and often. Travis Etienne should have an excellent game tomorrow, and it would not be surprising to see all four running backs score a touchdown. If Clemson can force Duke into difficult situations and make Daniel Jones consistently throw the ball, they should take care of business on Military Appreciation and Senior Day.

Hyatt, Wilkins Featured Among Nagurski Finalists, Outland Semifinalists

CLEMSON, S.C. — The Football Writers Association of America announced today that tackle Mitch Hyatt and Christian Wilkins have been named semifinalists for the 2018 Outland Trophy, presented annually to the nation’s top interior lineman. In addition, Wilkins has been named one of five finalists for the 2018 Bronko Nagurski Trophy, which honors the best defensive player in college football each year.

Wilkins joins Kentucky linebacker Josh Allen, Michigan linebacker Devin Bush, LSU defensive back Grant Delpit and Alabama nose guard Quinnen Williams as Nagurski finalists. Wilkins and Hyatt collectively represent a quarter of the eight Outland semifinalists, a list that also includes Williams, NC State center Garrett Bradbury, Wisconsin guard Michael Deiter, Houston defensive tackle Ed Oliver, Oklahoma guard Ben Powers and Alabama tackle Jonah Williams.

Hyatt has started every game this season for the nation’s fifth-ranked scoring offense (45.7 points per game) and ninth-ranked total offense (526.6 yards per game). His contributions on the offensive line have contributed to a number of stellar performances by members of the team’s offense, helping true freshman quarterback Trevor Lawrence lead the ACC in passing efficiency (158.60) and passing touchdowns (19) and powering three different running backs (Travis Etienne, Adam Choice and Lyn-J Dixon) to Top 12 national ranks in yards per carry. He earned Outland Trophy Offensive Player of the Month in October.

Earlier this season, Hyatt broke center Dalton Freeman’s school record for career snaps from scrimmage, as he enters this week’s contest with 3,420 career snaps to his credit. This week, he is expected to make his 53rd career start, which would break Clemson’s school record of 52, set by kicker Chandler Catanzaro.

Wilkins has started all 10 games for Clemson, serving as a key interior presence on a Clemson defense that ranks among the national leaders in almost every major statistical category. Thanks in part to both Wilkins’ production, presence and leadership, the Tigers rank tied for first in the country in scoring defense (12.7 points per game), second in total defense (253.6), third in rushing defense (82.3 yards per game) and ninth in passing defense (171.3 yards per game).

This season, Clemson’s coaching staff has credited Wilkins with 40 tackles (10.5 for loss), 10 quarterback pressures, 3.0 sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. Wilkins also became the first Clemson defensive lineman in the two-platoon era to score a rushing touchdown when he scored on a one-yard touchdown run at Florida State.

In addition to being a Nagurski finalist and Outland semifinalist, Wilkins has been named a finalist for the William V. Campbell Trophy and the Senior CLASS Award.

Clemson Sets New Record for Student-Athlete Graduation Success

CLEMSON, S.C. – Clemson Athletics set a new school record with a 92% graduation success rate in the report released by the NCAA on Wednesday, in which data from the incoming classes of 2008-11 academic years were included. In addition to setting the overall athletic department record, which was bested by one percentage point after the program earned a 91% GSR score each of the previous three years, the Tiger football and men’s basketball programs also set new program records for their graduation rates.

 

“The emphasis that our entire athletic department has on graduating student-athletes is evident in these record-breaking Graduation Success Rate percentages,” Director of Athletics Dan Radakovich said. “It’s great to see the rates continue to show the results of the hard work of our student-athletes who have dedicated themselves in the classroom to achieve their degree.”

 

The GSR of 92 ranks in the top 20% among the 351 reporting public institutions. The overall score of 92 also ranks in a tie for 12th among all Power Five Conference schools, which puts Clemson in the top 18% of schools in that category. Ten of the Tigers’ 13 sports eclipsed the national average GSR for NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision schools, while an 11th program tied the national average.

 

(NOTE: When reporting GSR scores, the NCAA combines cross country, indoor and outdoor track and field. Also note that the Clemson women’s golf and softball programs will not have GSR scores until the four-class data becomes available for calculation.)

 

Six programs, baseball, men’s basketball, men’s golf, men’s tennis and women’s tennis and volleyball, earned perfect scores of 100 in this year’s report. The Clemson volleyball program has earned a perfect score 14 years in a row, every year since the data began being released in 1998. Women’s tennis has nine-consecutive 100% GSRs, men’s tennis has four and baseball now has two, after earning its first-ever perfect score last year.

 

The Tiger men’s basketball program earned its first-ever perfect GSR score this year, improving 12 percentage points from last year’s report. Clemson football’s 87% graduation success rate is a new record for that program, which bested its previous high of 85% from one year ago.

 

NOTES ON CLEMSON’S OVERALL 92% GSR

  • Set a new school record, after three-consecutive years at 91%
  • Among the top 20% of 351 reporting institutions
  • Among the top 18% of 65 Power Five Conference institutions

 

CLEMSON SPORT-SPECIFIC GSR NOTES

  • The baseball program earned its second-consecutive score of 100, after receiving its first perfect score one year ago
  • The men’s basketball program set a new record, earning its first-ever perfect score of 100, improving 12 percentage points from last year’s report
  • The football program also set a record with an 87% score, improving from a score of 85% last year
  • The men’s golf program has earned three-consecutive perfect 100s
  • The men’s tennis program has scored perfect 100s four years in a row
  • The women’s tennis program has earned nine-straight perfect scores, and a total of 10, out of the 14 years the data has been released
  • The volleyball program has achieved a perfect 100 GSR score 14 years in a row, every year since the data began being released in 1998

Etienne Selected As Doak Walker Award Semifinalist

CLEMSON, S.C. — The PwC SMU Athletic Forum announced today that Clemson running back Travis Etienne has been named a semifinalist for the 2018 Doak Walker Award, which annually honors the nation’s top college running back.

Etienne is one of 10 semifinalists, joining a list that includes Arizona State’s Eno Benjamin, Boston College’s A.J. Dillon, Memphis’ Darrell Henderson, Michigan’s Karan Higdon, Kentucky’s Benny Snell, Florida Atlantic’s Devin Singletary, Arizona’s J.J. Taylor, Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor and Texas A&M’s Trayveon Williams.

This season, Etienne has rushed 127 times for an ACC-best 1,076 yards with 15 rushing touchdowns and caught nine passes for 56 yards with a receiving touchdown. Entering this week’s contest against Duke, he holds Top 10 national rankings in rushing touchdowns (15, fourth), total touchdowns (16, tied for fourth), points per game (9.6, tied for seventh) and yards per carry among qualified backs (8.47, eighth), in addition to producing explosive runs of 20-plus yards (15, second) and 30-plus yards (eight, tied for third) at an elite rate.

Etienne’s running on opponents has resulted in a run on the school’s record book. Against Syracuse, Wake Forest and NC State, he became the first player in school history to record three rushing touchdowns in three consecutive games. And among Clemson players with at least 1,000 career rushing yards, his 7.87 career yards-per-carry average ranks as the best in school history, ahead of the school record of 5.92 set by Jackie Calvert from 1948-50 and ahead of active Clemson running back and teammate Tavien Feaster (6.13).

Votes will be cast after this week’s games to determine the three Doak Walker Award finalists who will be named on Monday, Nov. 19. The 2018 Doak Walker Award recipient will be announced live on ESPN on Thursday, Dec. 6.

Renfrow Named Finalist For Burlsworth Trophy

CLEMSON, S.C. — The Burlsworth Trophy selection committee announced today that Clemson wide receiver Hunter Renfrow has been named one of three finalists for the 2018 Burlsworth Trophy. The honor is awarded annually to the most outstanding football player in America who began his career as a walk-on.

Along with Cal running back Patrick Laird and Wyoming safety Marcus Epps, Renfrow was one of three finalists selected from a list of 10 semifinalists announced last week.

A former triple-option quarterback at Socastee High School in Myrtle Beach, S.C., Renfrow started his Clemson career as a walk-on after turning down scholarship offers from several FCS programs. He has since become one of the most prolific receivers in Clemson history.

Renfrow enters this week’s game against Duke having recorded 1,974 receiving yards with 15 receiving touchdowns on 172 career receptions, the sixth-most career receptions in school history. He enters the contest tied for school records in career starts by a wide receiver (42, tied with Terry Smith) and consecutive games with a reception (38, tied with Artavis Scott).

Throughout his career, Renfrow has been responsible for some of Clemson’s most memorable performances, including a seven-catch, 88-yard, two-touchdown performance as a redshirt freshman in Clemson’s first College Football Playoff National Championship Game against Alabama, and following that performance the next year by catching the game-winning touchdown pass against Alabama to secure Clemson’s second national championship in school history.

Finalists will be honored and the winner of the 2018 Burlsworth Trophy will be announced Monday, Dec. 3rd at a luncheon in Springdale, Ark., hosted by the Brandon Burlsworth Foundation, in conjunction with the Springdale Rotary Club.

The trophy is named in honor of Brandon Burlsworth. Without one D1 scholarship offer, Burlsworth walked on to the Razorback team in 1994, worked his way to being a three-year starter and was eventually named an All-American in 1998. Burlsworth was selected as the 63rd overall pick by the Indianapolis Colts in the 1999 NFL draft, but was tragically killed in a car accident 11 days later. The Burlsworth Foundation was created in his memory and supports the physical and spiritual needs of children, in particular those children who have limited opportunities.

Clemson To Host Military Appreciation Day On Saturday

CLEMSON, S.C. — Clemson University will celebrate Military Appreciation Day on Saturday during the football team’s 7 p.m. game against Duke, and the university has a full slate of activities planned throughout the day and throughout the week in conjunction with the event’s 25th anniversary.

The game is part of Military Appreciation Week, as earlier today, Clemson University Staff Senate hosted a Veterans Appreciation Reception in the Walter T. Cox Plaza for all Clemson faculty and staff members that are veterans. On Wednesday, flags will be placed on the Scroll of Honor Memorial at 5 p.m. All are welcome to attend and participate in this ceremony.

On Saturday, Bowman Field will feature displays from the Army, Air Force and Marines. The displays will include military ground vehicles, helicopters and interactive areas that can be enjoyed by those of all ages.

Following a Tiger Band performance in the amphitheater, a military parade — along with the Tiger Band — will roll from the Holmes and McCabe dormitories around 6 p.m.

Prior to the game, South Carolina families of Fallen Soldiers will be introduced on the field and join the Tiger Band for the patriotic portion of its pregame show. There will be several special guests and high-ranking military officials in Memorial Stadium for Military Appreciation Day. In-game military recognitions will include the introduction of these officials, the hero-of-the-game and the Purple Heart Spotlight.

All veterans and active-duty military members are invited to come down to the field and be recognized during halftime. Participants should go to portal X in the WestZone or enter through the visitor’s tunnel (Gate 10) with five minutes remaining in the second quarter.

During halftime, the Tiger Band will play the “Armed Forces Medley,” and all veterans and active-duty military members are asked to stand to be recognized when their branch’s song is played. Veterans will be recognized in the west end zone by branch during this time as well. A fallen soldier tribute will take place with the solider cross and a 21-gun salute in the east end zone, ending with the playing of “Taps.”

Fans who have a ticket to this game and are unable to attend are encouraged to donate their tickets to a veteran by visiting http://clemsontigers.com/militarytix.

The game features a “Purple Out,” as fans are encouraged to wear purple in support of the military. Clemson is proud to partner with Alta Gracia, 47 Brand and Operation Hat Trick in support of Military Appreciation Day merchandise and support of the military.

Clemson-branded Operation Hat Trick (OHT) products will be available online at http://www.shopclemsontigers.com and in-venue during the game, as well as at other local retailers such as Tiger Sports Shop and Academy Sports. OHT is a non-profit organization that increases awareness, support and funding for the recovery of wounded service members and veterans through the sale of branded merchandise, proceeds of which are distributed to selected organizations that support OHT’s mission.

Clemson was one of the first universities to adopt the OHT program when it launched as a national brand in 2012. Last year, Clemson was the top selling OHT collegiate partner and received recognition from OHT as a finalist of the OHT Excellence in Service Award. This award is presented to universities that demonstrate a strong commitment to OHT and OHT’s military support mission. As a recipient of the Service Award, OHT donated $3,500 in Clemson University’s name to Purple Heart Homes – Golden Chapter in the local marketplace.

All of the week’s initiatives and events are representative of Clemson University’s deep and sincere gratitude for the sacrifices made by active military members and veterans.

Lawrence, Wilkins Awarded ACC Weekly Honors

CLEMSON, S.C. — The Atlantic Coast Conference announced today that quarterback Trevor Lawrence (ACC Rookie of the Week) and defensive tackle Christian Wilkins (ACC Defensive Lineman of the Week) have earned ACC weekly honors for their performances in Clemson’s 27-7 victory at Boston College on Saturday.

With the two selections, Clemson has now collected a total of 454 ACC weekly honors since 1978. Clemson players have earned a total of 14 selections thus far in 2018.

Last week, Lawrence posted career highs in completions (29) and pass attempts (40) while accounting for 295 passing yards. He threw his ACC-leading 19th touchdown pass of the season in addition to scoring his first career rushing touchdown on a six-yard run.

Lawrence’s selection is his fourth of the season, joining honors after performances at Georgia Tech, vs. NC State and at Florida State. It is Clemson’s fifth Rookie of the Week selection this season, including running back Lyn-J Dixon’s selection at Wake Forest. Lawrence becomes the first Clemson player to earn four Rookie of the Week selections from the ACC since Sammy Watkins in 2011.

Wilkins recorded five tackles, including one for loss, against Boston College in helping the Tigers limit the Eagles to only nine rushing yards. Wilkins also lined up in the offensive backfield on the Tigers’ go-ahead touchdown pass from Lawrence to tight end Milan Richard. This week, Wilkins can break Jim Stuckey’s school record for career starts by a defensive tackle (40 from 1976-79).

ACC Announces Game Times & Networks for November 23 & 24

GREENSBORO, N.C. (theACC.com) – The Atlantic Coast Conference and its television partners announced the following football game times and networks for the week of November 24.

 

Friday, Nov. 23

Virginia at Virginia Tech, 3:30 p.m., ABC

 

Saturday, Nov. 24

Georgia Tech at Georgia, noon, SEC Network (previously announced)

Florida at Florida State, noon, ABC

Syracuse at Boston College, noon, ESPN

NC State at North Carolina, 12:20 p.m., Raycom

Wake Forest at Duke, 12:30 p.m., RSN

Pitt at Miami, 3:30 p.m., ESPN or ESPN2 – network designation after the games of Nov. 17

South Carolina at Clemson, 7 p.m., ESPN

Kentucky at Louisville, 7 p.m., ESPN2