This week national pundits went on record casting doubts as to the athleticism and physicality of Clemson’s defensive front. Saturday night the Tiger defensive line established themselves as a premier pass rushing and run stopping unit.
Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham found himself running for dear life in the backfield. The ACC Tiger defense racked up 11 sacks, 14 tackles for loss, a pair of pass breakups, and four quarterback hurries.
Due to heavy pressure the Auburn offense was limited to 117 yards of total offense. The harassment of Stidham led to a mere 79 yards passing.
The 11 sacks by the Clemson defense was the most for a Tiger defense since the 2004 Utah State game in which they had the same number. It was also the most sacks by a Clemson squad against a team currently in the FBS.
Kamryn Pettway had difficulty finding any running room as he carried the ball 27 times only gaining 74 yards, an average of 3.4 yards per carry. Clemson’s defensive line commanded the line of scrimmage, getting consistent push in the trenches and allowing less than 1 yard per carry on the ground.
Auburn started the game with a solid opening drive of 15 plays for 69 yards and a field goal to take an early 3-0 lead. The other SEC Tiger score came following a Clemson fumble on their own 10-yard line and led to another field goal.
From there on out it was all Clemson. The ACC’s Tigers held Auburn under single-digit yardage on seven drives and forced negative gains twice.
Defensive tackle Christian Wilkins proved himself as the catalyst of the stingy Tiger front. Wilkins sacked Stidham twice, had 2.5 tackles-for-loss, and 10 tackles.
Junior defensive end Austin Bryant was relentless off the edge Saturday night. Bryant finished with eight impactful tackles, four tackles for loss, and four sacks.
The Tiger defense bailed out the offense all night and earned the victory in the trenches. Auburn controlled the momentum early in the game but the Clemson defensive front remained strong and refused to budge.
Clemson’s defensive front certainly improved their stock Saturday night and showed the nation why they are one of the best units in the country.