Making the Grade: No. 2 Clemson 38, Georgia Southern 7

Making the Grade: No. 2 Clemson 38, Georgia Southern 7

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Making the Grade: No. 2 Clemson 38, Georgia Southern 7

Second-ranked Clemson totaled 595 yards of offense, while holding Georgia Southern to 140 total yards as the Tigers rolled to an easy 38-7 victory Saturday at Death Valley.

Clemson finished with 309 rushing yards, while holding Georgia Southern to 80. The Eagles came into Saturday’s contest averaging 326.5 yards per game, which ranked fourth nationally.

So, how did the Tigers grade in the victory? Here is this week’s making the grade.

Quarterbacks

Kelly Bryant did not return to the game in the second half after he bruised his chest in the second quarter. Before he left, Bryant completed 7-of-10 passes for 68 yards. He was sacked one time and he threw an interception on the opening drive of the game. He also ran for 27 yards on six carries. Trevor Lawrence led the Tigers on two touchdown drives and completed the drive for a score after Bryant was injured.  Lawrence started off hot, completing 7 of his first 8 passes, but then he went just 5-of-11 in the second half. He finished the day 12-of-19 for 194 yards and a touchdown, a 57-yard pass to Justyn Ross. He also threw an interception, the first one of his career. Grade: B

Running Backs

Travis Etienne got the ball against the Eagles and he made the most of it. The sophomore rushed for a career-high 162 yards and scored two touchdowns to lead all running backs. Adam Choice did lose a fumble in the first quarter, but he bounced back to rush for 49 yards, including a 32-yard run. He also scored a touchdown. Tavien Feaster came into the second as he rushed for 32 yards on 10 carries. One of those runs was a 1-yard touchdown run. Freshman Lyn-J Dixon ran for 26 yards on five carries. He also made a pivotal block on a blitz pickup that allowed Lawrence to hit Ross down the middle for the 57-yard touchdown pass. Grade: A-

Wide receivers / tight ends

Clemson had 14 players catch the football. The thing that stood out the most was the fact four tight ends caught at least one pass. The four combined to catch five passes for 69 yards. They were mostly running wide open down the middle of the field. Braden Galloway caught one pass for 20 yards, while Cannon Smith and Milan Richard had 17-yard receptions. Ross led all pass catchers with 103 yards on three catches. Hunter Renfrow also had a 31-yard catch. Grade: A

Offensive line

Clemson averaged 6.7 yards per carry and gave up just one sack. However, it was not a perfect game. It did take four tries from the 2-yard line in the second quarter to get the ball in the end zone. The good news is a lot of players played on the offensive line and the coaches were very pleased with the play of the second and third team linemen. Co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott even said they played better than the first team. That kind of experience will bold well for the Tigers in the future. Swinney did take out the entire first-team line at one point and played the second team guys. He said when he brought the first-team back in they got the message he sent and they played better. Grade: B

Defensive line:

The defensive line had six of Clemson’s seven tackles for loss, including five sacks. Clelin Ferrell led the way with seven tackles, two sacks and another half tackle for loss. Austin Bryant had three tackles, including two sacks. Dexter Lawrence had four tackles from his nose tackle spot, while Christian Wilkins had a half a tackle for loss. Nyles Pinckney had three tackles, but he also caused a fumble and recovered it. Freshman defensive end Xavier Thomas also had a sack coming off the edge. Grade: A

Linebackers

Tre Lamar led the Tigers with 11 tackles as Clemson shut down Georgia Southern’s triple option. Strong side linebacker Isaiah Simmons had five tackles and played the option well and stayed within his assignments. Kendell Joseph had four tackles. Grade: A

Secondary

Georgia Southern threw just nine passes, completing three for 60 yards. That is not a good per-catch average. Of course, 40 of those yards went on a trick play, where Clemson once again did not stay home. They did play the run well and did a good job keeping the edge while defending the option, stringing plays out and allowing backside help to come and make plays. Safety Tanner Muse had five tackles. Grade: B

Special teams

Greg Huegel missed two field goals of 39 and 47 yards. B.T. Potter had six touchbacks, while Will Spiers had just one punt that went 32 yards. Amari Rodgers had two punt returns for just 2 yards. He did have one long return, but it was called back for an illegal block in the back. Grade: C

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