The Clemson Tigers have started the 2018 season with a 6-0 record (3-0 ACC) as they continue the journey they hope will take them back to the College Football Playoff.
In this edition of our Up Downs feature, we take a look at the players that made a move last Saturday in the Tigers’ 63-3 win against Wake Forest and those that are elevating their game and/or position on the depth chart.
We also take a look at which players have fallen down due to injury, performance, etc.
Tanner Muse: Muse recorded his second career interception, and first since 2016, when he picked off a pass in the first quarter against Wake Forest. The interception set up a Clemson touchdown drive that put the Tigers up 14-0 early in the second quarter. Muse also teamed up with Clelin Ferrell to stuff a Wake rushing attempt on fourth-and-1 from Clemson’s 19-yard line in the second quarter. Clemson’s offense capitalized on that defensive stop as well with another touchdown that gave them a 28-0 lead heading into halftime. A week earlier against Syracuse, Muse nearly grabbed another interception. The junior safety has been on his game the past couple of weeks and was named co-defensive player of the game by Clemson for his performance in the win against the Demon Deacons.
Lyn-J Dixon: Dixon earned ACC Rookie of the Week honors for his contributions in the victory over Wake Forest. The true freshman displayed his dynamic potential, tallying career highs in rushing attempts (10) and rushing yards (163) while scoring the first two rushing touchdowns of his career on bursts of 65 and 52 yards in the second half. Dixon also showed he is a weapon in the passing game with a 41-yard reception. The future is bright for the Butler, Ga., native.
Adam Choice: Like Dixon, Choice had a career day at Wake. The fifth-year senior broke off the longest run of his career with a 64-yard touchdown, surpassing a 39-yard touchdown run against Louisville last year. Choice also reached the 100-yard rushing mark for the first time in his career, posting 128 yards on 10 carries, an average of 12.8 yards per tote.
K.J. Henry: Henry had the best game of his young career while playing in his hometown of Winston-Salem, N.C. The true freshman registered four solo tackles, the second most among Clemson defenders in the game, and two of those were tackles for loss.
Entire O-line: Clemson’s offensive line was outstanding as a whole against Wake, paving the way for 471 yards rushing. That’s the most rushing yards in a single game under head coach Dabo Swinney, the fourth-most yards on the ground in program history and the most since Oct. 31, 1981, when the Tigers amassed 536 rushing yards against Wake Forest. Clemson averaged 11.8 yards per carry on 40 attempts, breaking the previous school record set on Oct. 17, 1903 against Georgia Tech (11.2). Clemson’s entire offensive line was named the offensive players of the game by Swinney following the victory over Wake.
Tavien Feaster: Feaster was the odd man out among Clemson’s running backs during the win at Wake. While Travis Etienne rushed for 167 yards and three touchdowns, and Dixon and Choice each had career days, Feaster carried the ball only three times for 4 yards. The junior suffered a slight shoulder injury in the first half and did not play in the second half as the coaches did not want to risk further injury.
Mark Fields: A week after missing the Syracuse game due to a discipline issue, Fields returned against Wake Forest. However, the senior cornerback could not come up with a big play when given the chance, letting a would-be interception slip through his hands in the first quarter when the game was still tied at 0-0. Unfortunately for Fields, dropped picks have become a theme.
Trevor Lawrence: The Wake Forest game wasn’t Lawrence’s sharpest outing, which is a scary thought for opponents considering he still finished 20-of-25 passing for 175 yards and two touchdowns. Lawrence lost a fumble in Clemson territory on the Tigers’ second drive of the game when it was still a 0-0 score, and he missed his target on several throws throughout the contest. But that is being nitpicky, as the true freshman did connect with Justyn Ross and Tee Higgins for scoring strikes of 55 and 20 yards in the second quarter, respectively, to help Clemson take control of the game entering halftime. Lawrence should only keep improving as he continues to gain experience as the Tigers’ unquestioned starter.