For those who have called Clemson a finesse team this year, they are not really paying attention.
According to Brian Hennessy, Clemson Athletic Communication’s secondary contact for Clemson Football, the Tigers lead the nation in rushing yards per game among non-triple-option teams. On the other side of the ball, the defense ranks third nationally in fewest yards per carry allowed despite playing three three-triple options teams in the first six weeks of the season.
That does not seem like a finesse team to me.
Clemson is averaging 280.8 yards per game on the ground and is on pace for its best per game average in 40 years. The Tigers rank fourth nationally, behind triple-option teams Georgia Tech, Army and Navy. Clemson played Georgia Tech as well as Georgia Southern, who ranks No. 9 running the ball, another triple-option offense.
The Tigers’ defense held Georgia Southern to 80 rushing yards and Georgia Tech to 146. Opponents are averaging just 2.49 yards per carry against Clemson this season and that number could be way lower had head coach Dabo Swinney not taken out his starters in their blow wins over Furman, Georgia Southern, Georgia Tech and Wake Forest.
In the two games in which Clemson’s starting defense played pretty much the whole game, Texas A&M ran for just 71 yards and Syracuse rushed for just 61. The Aggies just averaged 2.2 yards per carry, while Syracuse rushed for 2.3.
As we all know, Clemson (6-0, 3-0) made a commitment to the running game after being held to a season-low 115 yards against Texas A&M in Week 2. Since then, it has averaged 330.3 yards per game on the ground, including 471 in last week’s 60-point win at Wake Forest.
What people don’t know, is that Clemson has rushed for at least 248 yards in five of its first six games. That marks the first time that has happened since 1978.
Also, according to Ross Taylor, Clemson Athletic Communication’s primary contact for Clemson Football, the Tigers’ 1,685 yards through the first six games, ranks sixth among other Clemson teams dating back 1954. Only the 1978 (1,837), 1986 (1,755), 1992 (1,714) and 1990 (1,703) teams have rushed for more yards through the first six games.
Sometimes stats can lie. However, there is enough data to prove Clemson has been pretty physical on both sides of the line of scrimmage through the first six weeks of the season.