AUBURN, Ala. — With second-ranked Clemson trailing by three points with a little less than seven minutes to play in the second quarter of its 19-13 win over Auburn, the Tigers lined up in a jumbo package on fourth-and-goal from the Auburn one.
The play featured Garrett Williams and Jordan Leggett at tight end with Christian Wilkins and Dexter Lawrence in the backfield with running back Wayne Gallman. Having the two defensive tackles on the field in the offensive backfield took the Jumbo in the “Jumbo Package” to another level.
“That was fun. I like that,” Wilkins said afterwards. “I’m glad that the offensive coaches have enough confidence in us to go out there and do that and let us play a little offense.”
It might have been fun for Wilkins and Lawrence, but Auburn’s defense wanted nothing to do with it. As Wilkins described it, “They kind of hopped out the way. We did not have to do much” as Gallman ran through a hole off the right side untouched for the game’s first touchdown.
“Nobody was in the hole. I was expecting somebody. I was just trying to blow something up, but there was nothing to blow up,” Lawrence said smiling.
Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venable said he was glad it wasn’t his defense that was trying to matchup against the 6-foot-4, 310-pound Wilkins and the 6-foot-5, 340-pound Lawrence.
“You have to have some beef (to stop them),” Venables said. “Those are two guys they are not only big and strong, but they are super athletic and can move their feet. They can change their direction in a short area and get underneath the pad and leverage area so that would be a tough one to matchup personnel wise.”
Lawrence said the Tigers have been practicing that play in their goal line work, and when they were walking on the field at Jordan-Hare Stadium for the fourth-and-goal play, he told Gallman to follow him into the end zone. So Gallman did, but there was nobody from Auburn there waiting for either one of them.
Landmark Win. Usually win a team is the No. 2 team in the country it does not get too many “Landmark Wins.” But Saturday marked the first time Clemson opened with a win on the road against a team currently in the Southeastern Conference since 1903.
Clemson has now won three straight games against Auburn in the series after losing 14 in a row.
Sack masters. Clemson has had at least one sack in 31 consecutive games. The Tigers recorded their first two of the year on back-to-back plays in the second quarter against Auburn when Lawrence and Wilkins each brought backup quarterback Jeremy Johnson down for huge losses.
The Tigers’ defense also recorded 13 tackles for loss. Clemson has ranked in the top five nationally in tackles for loss in each of the previous three seasons.
Streak comes to an end. Clemson saw its streak of 11 consecutive games with at least 500 yards of total offense end, as the Tigers finished with 399 against Auburn.
Win the close ones. Clemson is now 12-2 in games decided by seven points or less since the beginning of the 2011 season.
He knows how to win. Clemson is now 7-1 in season opening games under head coach Dabo Swinney, including three wins over SEC opponents. He has nine wins over SEC competition overall.
Moving on up. Watson’s touchdown pass to Hunter Renfrow in the fourth quarter was the 50th of his career and moved him to second all-time in Clemson history, ahead of Charlie Whitehurst (2002-05).
The Wayne Train means another win. Gallman rushed for 123 yards, his 13th career game with at least 100 yards. Clemson is 13-0 in those games. Gallman needs just two more 100-yard rushing efforts to match Raymond Priester’s career Clemson record of 15, set from 1994-97.
Gallman needs just 23 yards to move into the top 10 among Clemson’s career rushing leaders. Gallman had 30 carries Saturday, the second time in his career he had 30 or more in a game.