After struggling most of the first half, second-ranked Clemson was desperate for a push that would put an end to its stagnant style of play.
Defensive lineman Christian Wilkins became the answer the Tigers needed to set the pace for their 30-24 victory over Troy on Saturday in Death Valley.
“I know we are searching for things in a situation like this because of how we feel, but we had three drives in the four quarter and came away with seventeen points, so one thing to know about this team is they know how to win and they find a way to win,” Clemson co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliot said afterwards. “We just have to make sure we aren’t putting ourselves in those situations by getting off to a good start, establishing our rhythm early so we can play looser ball down the stretch.”
On third-and-goal from the one yard-line with 13:55 left in the fourth quarter, Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson play-action faked the ball to running back Wayne Gallman, and then threw it to Wilkins for the touchdown, who was wide open in the end zone. The play put the Tigers up 20-10 at the time and was the spark they needed to jump start their stagnant offense.
“We have practiced it several times. They just installed it and said be ready and we got the opportunity to do it today,” Wilkins said after becoming the first defensive lineman in Clemson history to catch a touchdown pass.
With a lot of preparation and practice put into running the play, Wilkins was not nervous at all and was confident in what the outcome would be.
“I knew if we executed right it was going to be open so I wasn’t really nervous,” he said.”It was there it was a good play call. We knew they were going to be aggressive so the coaches called it and I was was wide open.”
Following Clemson’s win, the defensive lineman said he was glad he was the guy that could make such a game-changing play for the Tigers.
“I was happy to be there and make the play for the team. It was definitely an adjustment and I’m happy I was able to do it,” Wilkins said.
Defensive coordinator Brent Venables complimented Wilkins on his success at becoming the first defensive lineman at Clemson to catch a touchdown.
“It was awesome. That’s some good coaching there,” Venables said jokingly. “Christian is a great athlete. You can utilize him in so many ways. He is very talented and such a good guy.”
And he was the guy that answered the call for the offense when it was trying to find some answers.