Despite what looked like a closer margin of victory, second-ranked Clemson’s defense dominated Wake Forest in its 28-14 win Saturday in Death Valley.
However, when looking at the score and stats one does not see dominance. The Demon Deacons totaled 336 yards offensively, 16 first downs, and were sacked just one time.
But what the stats don’t tell is that Wake tallied 136 yards and scored both touchdowns in the final 11:48 of the game, after the Tigers built a 28-0 lead and started playing their second- and third-team players.
Through three quarters Clemson held the Demon Deacons (4-2, 1-2 ACC) to only 200 yards and no points and was just 2-for-11 on third down. In the fourth quarter, Wake Forest took advantage of Clemson’s young and inexperienced players, and some busted plays, to break up the shutout.
Some of the veteran defensive players knew they played too well to allow that kind of production late in the game and were not satisfied with the end result.
“We all hold each other to a standard and that wasn’t our best,” defensive end Austin Bryant said. “We definitely need to clean that up going forward.”
Linebacker Dorian O’Daniel had another successful day personally, but like Bryant, he was mad they gave up two touchdowns in the fourth quarter.
“I was made, too,” the graduate student said. “We have not had a shutout this year and we had an opportunity. To see it slip away over something dumb or a bonehead play, busted coverage, it is disappointing.
“If a team scores on a competitive play, then so be it. Let’s spot the ball and we will line up. But to give charity away, we don’t like that on defense.”
O’Daniel was particularly upset about Wake Forest’s second touchdown with just over two minutes to play. Demon Deacons’ quarterback Kendall Hinton found tight end Cam Serigne wide open in the corner of the end zone to cut the Tigers’ lead to 28-14.
Bryant had an outstanding day racking up seven tackles overall, including two tackles-for-loss, but giving up the two-late scores soured his afternoon somewhat.
“All of the starters, we were upset because there shouldn’t be any change when we come out of the game” the junior said.
The Tigers (6-0, 4-0 ACC) do not have much time to clean it up this week as they travel to Syracuse to square off with the Orange and their explosive offense in just six days.