No. 5 Clemson dominated Kent State in a 56-3 win on Saturday in Death Valley. The Tigers begin the season 1-0, while the Golden Flashes fall to 0-1. Here is a look back at how Clemson earned the victory:
What happened is pretty much everything the Tigers could have hoped for. Clemson amassed 665 yards of total offense, and it was a balanced effort with 353 yards passing and 312 rushing. Clemson recorded 34 first downs, committed only four penalties, converted 50 percent of its third-down attempts (5-for-10) and its only fourth-down attempt, and went 5-for-6 in the red zone. Defensively, meanwhile, the Tigers yielded just 120 yards — including just 1 yard through the air. Clemson’s suffocating defense allowed a measly five first downs, held the Golden Flashes to an average of 2.4 yards per play, and posted five tackles for loss.
Clemson scored on its first three possessions of the game — a 26-yard run by C.J. Fuller, a 61-yard pass from Kelly Bryant to Deon Cain and a 3-yard run by Adam Choice — to take a 21-0 lead at the 3:18 mark of the first quarter. Bryant added an 8-yard touchdown run with 1:13 to go before halftime to give his team a 28-3 lead at the break. The Tigers then blew the game open, scoring on their first four possessions of the second half. Tavien Feaster followed a 2-yard touchdown run by Fuller — his second of the game — with a 47-yard touchdown run of his own before Cornell Powell scored on a 14-yard pass from Zerrick Cooper. Freshman running back Travis Etienne provided the final 56-3 margin with his first career touchdown run, a 4-yard scamper, early in the fourth quarter.
What went right?
The first start of Bryant’s career went right, as Clemson’s new quarterback completed 16-of-22 passes for 236 yards and a touchdown. He also ran for 77 yards and a score on seven carries to finish the game as the team’s second-leading rusher. Bryant was accurate for the most part and displayed his ability to throw the deep ball with his 61-yard bomb to Cain. The performance should certainly boost Bryant’s confidence heading into the Auburn game next weekend.
What went wrong?
Not much, though Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables probably isn’t pleased with giving up more than 100 yards rushing to Kent State. You can bet he would have liked to see his unit force a turnover, as well. But that’s nitpicking. So is pointing out Bryant’s interception, the lone turnover of the game, which was a result of a deflection off of Tee Higgins in the end zone.
This contest, which featured a vast talent disparity, was no really no contest at all. The game changed when Clemson got off the bus and ran down the hill.