By Chandler Carver.
By Chandler Carver
Here is a look back at the Tigers victory over Ball State Saturday in Death Valley.
Clemson throttled Ball State, 52-27, thanks largely to an air attack that really could do no wrong. Clemson’s big playmakers (Tajh Boyd, DeAndre Hopkins, Andre Ellington, etc.) made enough plays early in the game the second half was completed largely by the second team. The Tigers put up 526 yards of total offense and ran 84 plays, which is to be expected in the home opener of the defending ACC Champions.
Clemson changed the game in their favor early. After marching down the field and scoring on the first drive of the game, Clemson’s defense held Ball State to a three-and-out on the Cardinals’ first drive. When the Tigers got the ball back, they again marched right down the field and scored. Thanks to the defense, what could have been a 7-6 score in Ball State’s favor quickly turned into a 13-0 Clemson lead.
This was an important game for the Tigers, even though it was only the second game of the season. Clemson had to come out and prove that they could win a big game, then turn around and really pound out a game against a lesser opponent. Clemson put up 52 points, including 32 in the second quarter, even without their starters playing most of the second half. They proved today that beating Auburn in the Georgia Dome wasn’t a fluke; that Clemson has a chance to be the “real deal” again this year.
A big turning point in this game happened in the second quarter. After kicking a 45-yard field goal to make the score 21-10 Clemson, Ball State attempted an on-side kick. Lateek Townsend fell on the ball, giving the Tigers their best starting field position of the day (the Ball State 33-yard line). Three plays later, DeAndre ‘Nuk’ Hopkins caught his second touchdown pass of the game to make it 28-10 Tigers.
What went right?
Clemson’s passing attack was firing on all cylinders, especially in the first half. Tajh Boyd, who only played one and a half quarters, finished 19-of-23 for 229 yards and three touchdowns. Nuk Hopkins finished with six catches for 105 yards and three touchdowns. Believe it or not, this was the first time in his career Hopkins finished with more than one touchdown catch in a game. Cole Stoudt came in for Boyd and finished 12-for-18 with 123 yards and a touchdown. It’s the first time since 2010 that Clemson has had two quarterbacks finish with at least 100 yards through the air. Twelve different Tigers caught a pass, including walk-on Daniel Rodriguez, the 24-year-old Army veteran who has already won the hearts of Tiger fans.
What went wrong?
Clemson’s defense still needs some work. Even after a week of practice to correct mistakes from last week’s performance, there were still moments of busted coverage in the secondary, poor tackling on first contact and multiple penalties. Allowing touchdown runs of 54 and 21 yards against Ball State isn’t what you want from your defense. Ball State finished with 380 total yards of offense, including 252 yards on the ground. There were some bright moments, but the defense is going to have to improve if the Tigers want a chance to defend their ACC Championship title.
They said it.
Clemson Head Coach Dabo Swinney
“We were coming off an emotional game last week. They did a great job setting the tone early with some great drives. We scored the most points in a half of any Clemson team since 1981.”
“It took [Daniel Rodriguez] seven years and two wars to get his first collegiate reception, but he has no bigger fans than his teammates.”
Defensive tackle DeShawn Williams
“We’re getting there. It’s like Coach Venables said, we just have to keep going. We have to get ready for ACC play. I know we will. We have too much pride to let people run us. We’ll be ready next week.”