TCI hands out some helmet stickers to top performers from second-ranked Clemson’s 54-0 win over Syracuse on Saturday…
The big winner in Saturday’s game from a player standpoint might have been Clemson’s backup quarterback. Schuessler came in and took charge of the offense, leading or capping three scoring drives and another that resulted in a missed field goal. The veteran was Clemson’s top passer on the day, throwing for 177 yards and two touchdowns while completing 11 of his 17 attempts. Schuessler appeared composed when he lobbed a perfect pass to Artavis Scott for a five-yard touchdown and when he later found Deon Cain open for an 18-yard score on his final pass of the game.
The redshirt junior appears to have hit his stride. Williams reached the 70-yard mark in receiving yardage for the fourth time in five games with Saturday’s six-catch, 106-yard performance. He was targeted nine times—tied for tops on the team—and cashed one of those targets in for a 14-yard touchdown early in the second quarter. On that scoring play, Williams powered through a tough tackle just shy of the goal line in order to find the end zone. He continues to be Watson’s favorite target, although he might soon have some company…
…in the form of Deon Cain. He was the wideout who tied Williams with nine targets to lead the Tigers, and he turned his five opportunities with the ball in his hands into 125 receiving yards. Cain was the recipient of Clemson’s longest play of the season so far when he caught a deep ball from Watson and finished it off with a touchdown 65 yards later. He also caught a crucial pass over the middle on third-and-12 that led to a score, then he snagged an 18-yard touchdown pass from Schuessler on his final catch of the day.
Scott was the possession receiver in Clemson’s offense on Saturday, grabbing a team-leading seven receptions for only 45 yards. Those seven catches matched a season high for Scott, and they included a five-yard touchdown in the third quarter. Scott’s best attribute on display during Saturday’s tilt was his elusiveness, which had been hit-or-miss this season prior to facing the Orange. He wiggled his way for extra yardage on multiple occasions, which is the same reason he was on the field fielding punts against the Orange, as well.
Statistically, Muse only had three tackles, but he made a pair of plays that epitomized Clemson’s defensive effort against the Orange. His ferocious hit on Brisly Estime after a kickoff return in the first quarter got the crowd going. It was one of the most emotionally charged plays in Saturday’s contest. Then, he intercepted a short pass that nearly hit the ground and was tipped multiple times and returned it 64 yards for the game’s final touchdown. The freshman made quite an impression on the Military Appreciation Day crowd at Memorial Stadium.
Boulware made another of Saturday’s most emotionally engaging plays. He attempted to bring down Dontae Strickland after a catch-and-run that gave the Orange a first down by picking him up off of the ground and body-slamming him to the turf. Some part of the play was flagged by an official, but the crowd was already in a frenzy by that point. It was one of Boulware’s team-leading seven tackles in the game.
Tankersley’s first interception of the season was the highlight of his night, but that was only the beginning. The senior cornerback had six tackles—all solo—and broke up a pass. Beyond that, he was able to prevail an abundance of times in his matchup with the ACC’s top wide receiver—Syracuse’s Amba Etta-Tawo. Tankersley (among others) held the standout to his second-worst yards-per-catch average of the season, no small feat facing an offense that targeted him ten times.
Photo Credit: Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports