Clemson opens its home season against Troy on Saturday. As the second-ranked Tigers prepare to take on the Trojans, here are five numbers to watch in this week’s game…
9: Players who recorded a tackle for loss in last week’s win against Auburn. Kendall Joseph led the way with three, followed by Christian Wilkins with 2.5 and Cordrea Tankersley with two. As a team, the Tigers had 14 tackles for loss. Only three teams in the country had more, and that’s not altogether surprising. Over the past three seasons, Brent Venables’ defense has become the nation’s standard-bearer for bringing opposing defenses to the ground behind the line of scrimmage. Clemson has led the nation in that category each season during that stretch, even though the program has suffered significant personnel losses over and over again. With a bunch of new starters and first-year players in the rotation, conventional wisdom says that might not be the case in 2016, but the unit appears to be off to a good start.
36: Number of players who played at least one snap from scrimmage against Auburn last week. No one played fewer than five, and most took the field for the vast majority of plays. That probably won’t be the case against the Trojans. Clemson should be able to amass a comfortable lead fairly quickly if things go according to plan, so some of the freshmen who didn’t see the field in the opener should get a shot. Fans of Tavien Feaster, Cornell Powell, K’Von Wallace, John Simpson, or any other never-before-seen player should be rewarded on Saturday.
294: Days between home games for Clemson football. There is always a long layoff between games from one season to the next, but this one has seemed particularly lengthy given the number of times the Tigers have taken the field other places since the last home game. The Tigers have not played in Memorial Stadium since November 21, 2015, when they defeated Wake Forest 33-13 on Senior Day. Saturday’s contest will end a stretch of five consecutive games away from home, dating back to last season.
468: Total yards gained by Clemson’s offense against Troy in 2011. That game was the first meeting ever between the two squads, and it represented the first chance for Chad Morris to put his brand of offense out on the field at Clemson. The initial returns weren’t great, as the Trojans led 16-13 at halftime and the boobirds came out in force to send the Tigers to the locker room. Fortunately for Morris and the man that hired him, Dabo Swinney, Clemson blew Troy away after the half and coasted to a 43-19 win that momentarily made people forget about the disappointing 6-7 mark the program posted in 2010.
706: Total yards of offense Troy gained last week against FCS bottom-feeder Austin Peay. The Trojans were balanced in their attack, picking up more than 300 yards both rushing and passing. Granted, the level of competition will be significantly greater this week, but Troy’s offense is no slouch. Its head coach is Neal Brown, a former offensive coordinator at Texas Tech and Kentucky that is a fan of the air raid as employed by Mike Leach and his followers. The Trojans like to throw quick passes to neutralize opposing pass rushers, then they will throw in a downhill rushing attack once the defense has spread itself out enough. Clemson’s defense might have a tougher time this week than it did down at Auburn.