Notebook: Tigers keep rolling out the big plays

Notebook: Tigers keep rolling out the big plays

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Notebook: Tigers keep rolling out the big plays

Clemson’s offense came into Saturday’s game with Georgia Southern leading the nation in plays of 40 yards or more with six. The second-ranked Tigers added to that total in their 38-7 victory at Clemson’s Death Valley.

Trevor Lawrence’s 57-yard touchdown pass to Justyn Ross in the second quarter and Travis Etienne’s 40-yard touchdown upped the Tigers’ total to eight through the first three games of the season.

The Tigers amassed 595 total yards overall, including 286 passing and 309 rushing. It marked the second time this season Clemson has reached 200 passing yards and 200 rushing yards in the same game and the 36th time the program has done so under head coach Dabo Swinney.

Clemson is undefeated (36-0) in those contests.

“There were lots of positives, offensively,” Swinney said afterward. “Eighteen different guys touched ball for us. Travis played well. All of our running backs did good things. We ran the ball like we needed to.

“After Kelly Bryant went out with a chest bruise, Trevor did a lot of good things, too. He made some big throws, but he missed some throws, too, that he probably wishes he could have back. Also, Justyn Ross showed everyone that he’s a really special player by getting 103 receiving yards. Again, overall, there were lots of positives on offense.”

It has been a long time. Etienne totaled a career-high 162 yards on 16 carries. The 100-yard rushing game was the second of Etienne’s career and his first since last year’s game against Boston College, when he ran for 113 yards.

His 162 yards are the most by a Clemson running back since Wayne Gallman ran for 187 yards against North Carolina in the 2015 ACC Championship Game.

With Etienne’s performance, Clemson improved to 33-2 when producing a 100-yard rusher since 2011.

Almost automatic. Clemson rushed for 309 yards and is now 47-1 when rushing for at least 200 yards under Swinney. The 309-yard game is the most rushing yards by a Clemson team since its win over Boston College last year when the Tigers rushed for 342 yards.

“We wanted to come out and run the football and establish the run,” co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott said. “Overall, I just loved the effort. I thought we were ready to play. We just have to be more consistent. We had a couple drives where we shot ourselves in the foot with penalties and weren’t able to capitalize.”

Stingy defense.  Clemson has not allowed a first-half touchdown at Memorial Stadium since Nov. 12, 2016 win it lost to Pittsburgh, a streak of 10 consecutive home games without allowing a touchdown in the first two quarters.

The Tigers held Georgia Southern without a touchdown in the first half and has held opponents without a first-half touchdown seven times in the last eight games.

The Eagles finished the game with just 140 yards, including 80 on the ground. They came into Saturday’s game ranked fourth nationally in rushing offense, averaging 326.5 yards per game.

“I thought our guys were very detailed today,” defensive coordinator Brent Venables said. “They played with a lot of energy and were very physical. We were able to get five sacks, which gives us options. They’re doing pretty good, and that comes from their preparation.

“I just loved the attitude the whole time. We played a bunch of guys, and everybody got in there and did well. Regardless of who you’re playing, it still comes down to details in alignments and eyes and footwork.”

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