TCI hands out some helmet stickers to some of second-ranked Clemson’s standout performers from Saturday’s 19-13 win at Auburn…
The senior safety finally gets a chance to be a full-time starter this season, and his play on Saturday showed that the distinction was well-earned. Johnson only registered two tackles—not exactly the worst thing in the world for the last line of defense—but he made two of the biggest plays of the game on Clemson’s behalf. The first was a leaping interception of Jeremy Johnson midway through the third quarter that saved a touchdown with his team up by ten points. The second was his pass breakup that ended the game, a second-effort deflection that guided the ball toward the end zone turf.
Sure, his roughing the passer penalty was directly responsible for Auburn’s lone touchdown, but Boulware was outstanding otherwise. He totaled six tackles, including one for a loss. He forced a fumble near the goal line on a fourth-and-short play that kept Auburn from scoring late in the third quarter. His fourth-and-goal interception ended yet another Auburn scoring threat with a little more than six minutes left to play. The senior leader was largely brilliant, save one prominent hiccup.
There was much talk during the offseason about splitting carries a little more evenly, but Saturday’s game looked a lot more like what we saw a season ago. Gallman was the workhorse back for the Tigers, racking up 30 of his team’s 33 running back carries for 123 yards and a touchdown. His short scoring run on fourth down with 7:34 remaining in the second quarter gave Clemson a lead it would never relinquish.
The former walk-on lived up to his reputation in this contest. He caught only three balls for 27 yards, but his sprawling touchdown catch in the back left corner of the end zone with about ten minutes to go in the game was critically important in deciding the final outcome. The play spanned 16 yards and reminded fans, once again, that Renfrow is a reliable option in the receiving corps in big moments down the stretch.
The sophomore got the start at defensive end tonight, proving he can handle bouncing between that spot and defensive tackle. Wilkins provided six tackles, including 2.5 tackles for loss, and one quarterback sack. He also batted down a tunnel screen that could have gone for big yardage and registered one quarterback pressure.
Anyone who questioned whether Joseph could handle the MIKE linebacker role found the answer on Saturday night. The sophomore was the team leader with nine tackles, including two for loss, and pressured the quarterback once. It was not a perfect performance, but it was far better than average for a player tasked with quarterbacking the defense and making his first career start.
The legend of Dexter Lawrence grew on Saturday night. The gargantuan freshman was second on the team with seven tackles and earned his first career sack when he took down Johnson for an 11-yard loss. He also broke up a pass, and perhaps most importantly, he allowed Clemson fans to dream about what might be coming down the road for him.