On a day where second-ranked Clemson’s offense was, well, downright offensive, it took a defensive player to give the Tigers some breathing room. Since that player also made some solid plays on his original side of the football, he was an easy choice for our Player of the Game in Clemson’s 30-24 win over Troy on Saturday.
Christian Wilkins had seven tackles during Saturday’s action, good enough for a tie for second on the team. He had half a tackle for loss and deflected a pass, as well. That might have been enough on this day, but Tony Elliott and Jeff Scott had bigger plans for the sophomore defensive tackle.
Clemson’s offensive brain trust employed its newfound jumbo package, just as it did at the goal line against Auburn. Naturally, Troy stacked the box and aggressively attacked the line of scrimmage, thinking a power run was coming. The actual call was a step ahead.
Wilkins slipped out beyond the line to the right of the formation, and Deshaun Watson calmly flipped it to him for a short touchdown toss that gave the Tigers a 20-10 advantage. At that point, the Tigers were sputtering offensively—and that’s putting it kindly—and had been stopped on the one-yard line on the previous play.
Not only was the score a shot in the arm for a team in desperate need of one, it made Wilkins the first defensive lineman in Clemson history to catch a touchdown pass. Sounds like a Player of the Game, indeed.