When Clemson’s secondary gave up 510 passing yards and five touchdowns to South Carolina quarterback Jake Bentley in the regular-season finale, they were ridiculed by the fans and media alike.
With the College Football Playoff approaching and with the prospects of facing Notre Dame’s Ian Book and possibly either Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa or Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray in the national championship game, there were not too many people who believed the Tigers could withstand those elite quarterbacks and still win both games.
However, they proved everyone wrong, and they did it with dominating performances.
In its last three games combined, the Clemson secondary allowed just 463 yards on 43 of 86 passes with four interceptions and gave up just one touchdown.
Book, who led the nation in completion percentage prior to the Cotton Bowl Classic, was limited to 17 of 34 passes for 160 yards, while being intercepted once in a 30-3 Clemson victory.
In the national championship game against Alabama, the Tigers held Tagovailoa to 22 of 34 for 295 yards and one touchdown, while intercepting him twice, including a 44-yard touchdown return by cornerback A.J. Terrell on the Crimson Tide’s opening drive.
Clemson finished the year ranked No. 10 nationally in completion percentage defense (53.2), 11th in touchdown passes given up (13) and 15th in pass efficiency defense (110.9). The Tigers were No. 24 in yards allowed per game (189.6).
Not too bad for a unit that was maligned for much of the year primarily due to just two bad games. With Clemson a year more experienced and a year wiser with the return of Terrell at corner, Tanner Muse at free safety and K’Von Wallace at strong safety, plus reserve safeties Nolan Turner and Denzel Johnson and reserve corners Kyler McMichael and Mario Goodrich, look for the secondary to be a strength in 2019.
–Videos courtesy of the ACC Digital Network
Move over Alabama, Clemson is the new King of College Football. In our new magazine “Little Ole Clemson”: The Best “Little” Dynasty Ever, we examine not just the 2018 team’s run to being “the best ever” but examine the last four seasons and how Dabo Swinney turned Clemson into the new dynasty of college football. We also take a look at the role former athletic director Terry Don Phillips played. We go behind the scenes at the Tigers’ run to a second national championship in three seasons and the previous three national championship runs. It also features stories on the Power Rangers, the 2018 senior class, high quality photos and much, much more.
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