By Will Vandervort.
Clemson got a little bit of this and a little bit of that in Saturday’s game against Georgia State. And in the end the 22nd-ranked Tigers got a well-received 28-0 victory in front of 77, 683 fans in Death Valley.
With archrival South Carolina coming to town next Saturday, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney wanted to see his Tigers show improvement after last week’s disappointing defeat in Atlanta. He wanted to see them move on from the loss and show they are ready to finish the season on a strong note.
Though it wasn’t a dominating win as people might have thought, it was an efficient one – one in which the defense played like the second-best defense in the country and an offense that did just enough to give its faithful fans hope for next week even if freshman quarterback Deshaun Watson does not take the field.
Quarterback Cole Stoudt’s confidence was in question all week leading up to the game, but the senior—though not pretty at times—showed poise and enough arm strength to at least show some resemblance of a deep passing game. He threw an interception, but he also threw a touchdown and finished the game 19 of 29 for 132 yards and 108.2 quarterback efficiency rating.
The Tigers also introduced Tyshon Dye to full-time status. The redshirt sophomore ran for two scores and rushed for 124 yards on 20 carries in the first real work of his career. Dye had just five carries for 14 yards on the final drive of the night against Wake Forest a few weeks back.
Defensively, the Tigers (8-3) continued to do what they have done to everyone the last 10 weeks – dominate. Clemson held Georgia State to 155 total yards and intercepted quarterback Nick Arbuckle three times, all leading to touchdowns.
The Panthers (1-10) had just 40 rushing yards. They were the second team Clemson shutout this season. The first time that has happened since the 1998 team recorded shutouts over Furman and Maryland. The Tigers shutout NC State, 41-0, on Oct. 4.
The Tigers grabbed a 7-0 lead with 6:05 to play in the first quarter when Dye went up the middle for a three-yard touchdown. That capped a five-play, 30-yard drive that took one minute and 30 seconds.
Following a 37-yard interception return by Korrin Wiggins, plus a 15-yard penalty for a late hit out of bounds that put the ball at the Georgia State 26, Dye got his second touchdown – a 6-yard run up the gut for a 14-0 with 1:03 to go in the opening quarter.
Clemson continued to pour on in the second quarter as Gallman added a nine-yard run for a 21-0 lead and then Stoudt threw an eight-yard touchdown pass to Mike Williams with 34 seconds to play in the half.
Both touchdowns came after interceptions. Kearse intercepted Nick Arbuckle to set up Gallman’s score and then Garry Peters picked off the Georgia State quarterback just before the end of the first half, allowing Stoudt to find Williams for the 28-0 lead.