By Will Vandervort
Vic Beasley isn’t used to wearing funny hats, but he proudly wore the Leather Helmet Award, which is given to the Most Valuable Player from the Clemson-Boston College every year, during Saturday’s postgame press conference.
“I can get used to it,” the Tigers’ star defensive end said smiling after Clemson’s 24-14 victory in Death Valley.
Beasley became the first defensive player to win the Leather Helmet Award as he had five tackles, including one sack and two tackles for loss and a fumble recovery for a touchdown in the third-ranked Tigers’ win.
“It was a big-team effort,” he said. “Our defense comes out every week and tries to play the best we can.”
The defense has especially been playing that way when the game in on the line. First there was the Georgia game, when they made several key stops in the Tigers’ come back victory. Then there was Beasley’s sack and strip fumble in the win at NC State. Then against BC, with Clemson clinging to a three-point fourth quarter lead, linebacker Tony Steward sacked quarterback Chase Rettig and knocked the ball out of his hands.
Beasley, who has seemed to be everywhere this season, alertly picked up the loose ball and rumbled 13 yards for the game-clinching touchdown.
“When I saw the ball, I thought, ‘Ah, yes! I was waiting for this moment my whole career – it was my turn, I guess,” he said.
Owning the conference. The Tigers have now won 11 straight ACC games. That is the longest such streak since Clemson won 20 straight against ACC foes from 1981-84. By the way, the last ACC team to beat Clemson – Florida State, who will visit Death Valley next Saturday in a battle of top five teams.
Stingy. Clemson’s defense held the nation’s leading rusher in Andre Williams to just 70 yards rushing and a 2.9 average on yards per carry. He entered the game averaging 153.6 rushing yards per game and 5.8 yards per carry.
A consistent winner. Clemson has now won 14 straight games by double-digit points over unranked teams. So much for the theory on “Clemson pulling a Clemson.” Unless this is what they mean.
An Elite defense? Clemson has now held its opponent to 14 points or less in five straight games. That is the longest such streak since the Tigers did it in six straight games from the end of 1989 to the first game of 1990.
A new meaning for the term scoring defense. Clemson now has three defensive touchdowns on the season with Beasley’s 13-yard return. That is the most since 2006 when the Tigers recorded four defensive touchdowns.
Almost perfect. Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney is now 18-2 in home ACC games in his five seasons as head coach and has won 13 straight against conference foes in Death Valley.
Sack masters. The Tigers led the nation in sacks per game entering Saturday’s game with a 3.8 mark. The defense recorded five sacks in the game to give them 24 sacks for the season, an average of 4.0 per game.
Another record. Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd threw for 334 yards against Boston College to become the all-time leader in passing yards in Clemson history with 9,836 yards. He also moved in to fourth place in ACC history in career passing yards.
Boyd now has 14, 300-yard passing games in his career. That moves him in to sole possession of second place in ACC history in that category. He also earned his 27th win as a starting quarterback with the victory.
Boyd is now second in total offense in ACC history. He has 10,788 in his career, trailing only Philip Rivers of NC State. He passed former Georgia Tech signal-caller Joe Hamilton in today’s game for second on the list.
Mr. Explosive. Sammy Watkins had seven catches for 101 yards and a touchdown. He now has 11, 100-yard receiving games in his career, just one shy of the Clemson record of 12. He also moved in to fifth place in Clemson history in career receiving yards with 2,509.