Top-ranked Clemson dominated Syracuse in its first road game of the season Saturday with a convincing 41-6 victory at The Dome.
The Tiger defense shut down the Orange, known for their high-powered offense, and held them to just 187 yards of total offense. Opposing quarterback Tommy DeVito found himself on the run and was sacked eight times in the game.
One of the game’s biggest plays came in the third quarter after Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence threw one of two interceptions and gifted Syracuse (1-2, 0-1 ACC) a first-and-goal from the 9-yard line. Sophomore Mario Goodrich delivered with an interception of his own on the following play which led to a 3-play, 96-yard touchdown drive that gave the Tigers a commanding 24-6 lead.
Goodrich stayed relatively quiet in his freshman campaign with just six tackles in limited action. But Saturday night he stepped up in a crucial situation and opened the floodgates for the Tigers to take over in the Loud House.
The Kansas City, Missouri native credited his success to great coaching and help from his teammates.
“Coach (Brent) Venables put us in the right call and the quarterback was holding the ball,” Goodrich told members of the media following the game.
“Our defensive line did what it was supposed to do and on the back end we made a play to get the ball back to the offense.”
Before the play defensive back coach Mike Reed told Goodrich, he was up and that he was built for the moment and the young defensive back made a big-time play and gave his offense an opportunity to seize complete control of the game.
The Clemson defense has made a habit of forcing a change of possession deep in its own territory. Three different times following Lawrence’s interceptions the Tigers intercepted Georgia Tech on fourth-and-goal from the one, intercepted Syracuse on first-and-goal from the nine and forced a turnover on downs after the Orange took over at the Clemson nine.
Nothing reveals more about a unit then how it responds to adversity and the Clemson defense has shown its tenacity thus far in a small sample size of three games. The next man up mentality was on full display Saturday and this Tiger defense is special.
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