After a lackluster showing against North Carolina two weeks ago, second-ranked Clemson’s offense kicked into high gear following a bye week and got things rolling Saturday in a 45-14 rout of Florida State at Death Valley.
Head coach Dabo Swinney challenged the offense to be in attack mode against the Seminoles, and the Tigers answered the bell, totaling 552 yards, picking up 31 first downs and averaging 6.1 yards per play in the victory.
“Really proud of the way our guys came out of the locker room,” co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott said. “Any time you don’t play well, you always are ready to go play again. And to have an open week, have two weeks to have to wait before you go out there, it was great to see our guys come out and really attack and be precise and execute in all the things that we want. So, I thought that was great momentum.”
Clemson (6-0, 4-0 ACC) was aggressive from the get-go and took a shot down the field on the first play from scrimmage. Trevor Lawrence hit Tee Higgins for a 40-yard completion, and Travis Etienne followed with a 23-yard pass to Justyn Ross on a designed trick play.
Lawrence later tossed a shovel pass to Etienne for a 3-yard touchdown, capping a six-play, 75-yard opening drive that put Clemson up 7-0 less than three minutes into the game, and the Tigers never looked back.
“We really wanted to send a message to our guys that we were ready to go out and attack, and we weren’t just going to sit back and wait and see how people were going to play us,” Scott said. “We were going to attack, and that’s something that Coach Swinney really challenged our offense with … I think that first drive was kind of that first big punch that maybe we haven’t had the last few weeks.”
Scott was especially pleased with Clemson’s offensive line, which paved the way for 320 yards rushing on 53 attempts, an average of 6 yards per carry.
Etienne led the way with 127 yards on 17 totes.
“Really proud of the offensive line,” Scott said. “That’s a really good front – 300 pounds across the board. Those guys are very difficult to move and create space, and really challenged those guys up front to create some running room for the backs. When you do that, that opens up some of the shots down the field. So really proud, especially of that first group there in the first half and first drive of the third quarter.”
It certainly wasn’t a perfect performance by Clemson’s offense, which turned the ball over twice on an interception and a fumble, went just 5-of-16 on third down and failed on a couple of fourth-down conversion attempts.
However, the offense looked a lot more like the explosive, high-powered unit everyone expected it to be entering the season, and Scott hopes to see the Tigers build off the much-improved effort moving forward.
“We got to see a glimpse of what we can look like when we’re executing and everybody is on the same page,” he said. “I think the way they came out there and played says a lot about this group and hopefully where we’re headed.”
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