No. 4 Clemson handled divisional rival Florida State on Saturday night en route to a 31-14 win in front of a sellout crowd in Memorial Stadium. Clemson clinched its third consecutive Atlantic Division title and trip to Charlotte for the ACC Championship game.
The Tiger defense was relentless and took advantage of the Seminoles’ blunders on the offensive line. The unit was in the backfield all night wreaking havoc on freshman quarterback James Blackman, recording 10 tackles for loss and five sacks.
Entering Saturday’s game, Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables knew he could take advantage of the Seminole offensive front. But with Dexter Lawrence banged up, somebody else would have to step up.
Lawrence — listed as questionable on the injury report — did not dress out due to his foot injury, but junior defensive tackle Christian Wilkins rose to the occasion leading the way for the Clemson defense.
Wilkins delivered and led the charge of Clemson’s front seven in the face of several injuries. He finished the day with seven tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, and one sack.
In the first half, the Tiger defense held Florida State to a mere 46 yards.The yardage was split evenly with 23 yards passing and 23 yards on the ground.
Clemson’s defensive line also combined for five tackles for loss and four sacks.
In the second half, the Clemson defense continued its strong play, standing up as offensive struggles kept it on the field for extended periods of time.
Florida State took advantage of a tiring Clemson defense as well as injuries in the secondary to score a pair of touchdowns, one at the end of the third quarter and the other in the fourth quarter.
The Seminoles were held to just 21 yards rushing and 229 yards of total offense. Clemson’s defense led by Wilkins did its job on Saturday night.
If the Tiger defense can get healthy as they continue into the “championship phase” of the season, they will be a force to be reckoned with — and Christian Wilkins is a major part of that.