Heading into Saturday’s top 15 showdown with No. 13 Auburn in Death Valley, Clemson defensive end Austin Bryant had 3.5 sacks in his career. In the third-ranked Tigers’ 14-6 victory, he more than doubled his career stat.
Bryant had a record-tying four sacks as the Clemson defense produced 11 overall, while holding Auburn to just 117 total yards on a night that belonged to the defense. While the offense struggled early, the Tigers’ defense set the tone with a second-quarter stand following a turnover that hinted what kind of night it was going to for Auburn.
“We were all working together, the two inside guys were pushing them out to me and Clelin (Ferrell) and we were pushing him up in the pocket to Dexter (Lawrence) and Christian (Wilkins),” Bryant said. “So, it was a great effort by all four of us being able to come together and work as one.”
Clemson’s 11-sack night was the most sacks in one game by a Clemson defense since the 2004 unit did the same against Utah State in 2004.
Auburn took a 6-0 lead on Clemson after Daniel Carlson made his second field goal of the night, a 28-yard kick, with 14:17 to play in the second quarter. But that was all the SEC Tigers got the rest of the night as the defense stoned them to just 43 total yards in the final three quarters.
With the defense doing its thing, the offense finally got on track late in the second quarter as quarterback Kelly Bryant engineered an 88-yard touchdown drive to close the first half, which he capped with a three-yard touchdown run. He then opened the second half with a 27-yard touchdown run that proved to be all the Tigers needed.
“We answered a lot of questions tonight about how can we handle adversity,” Austin Bryant said. “People knew that last year’s team could handle adversity. This was our first real test of the season. I feel like we stood up right in the face of adversity. I think we did very well.”
Bryant said the defense knew that once the game got to the second half Auburn was going to have to throw the ball a little bit more and they just pinned their ears back and went after quarterback Jarrett Stidham.
“We knew their tendencies and we were able to be effective when it was our time too and when we had a chance too we brought it.”
Clemson has not allowed a touchdown in either of the first two games in wins over Kent State and Auburn. It is the first time Clemson has not allowed a touchdown in each of its first two games since 1964.
“For us to have to hold on to the game in the first half … it was awesome. We were just out there playing and having fun.”
They had a lot of fun, especially Bryant, who now has 7.5 sacks in his career.