The highlight of the night for Clemson’s defense during the Tigers’ win over Boston College on Saturday came at the outset of the second half.
On Boston College’s first possession of the third quarter, senior linebacker Chad Smith forced Eagles quarterback Dennis Grosel to fumble the ball, which was recovered by defensive end Logan Rudolph and taken to the house for a 39-yard touchdown that pushed Clemson’s lead to 45-7.
“That’s a defender’s dream, is to scoop and score or a pick-six,” Smith said. “Any time a defense can score a touchdown, that’s a huge momentum swing for us. So, it was a big play, big moment in the game, and you could kind of tell right after that it was kind of that nail in the coffin.”
Smith rushed up the middle on a linebacker blitz and beat an attempted block from running back AJ Dillon to get into the backfield for the strip sack of Grosel. Smith nearly picked up the ball before being knocked down by Grosel, but Rudolph was right there to scoop it up and score.
Smith, who had a game-high nine tackles, is going to make sure Rudolph knows that he couldn’t have made the big play without him.
“I try to be right there next to him, like ‘hey, you scored because of me,’” Smith joked. “But it was a team effort. It was a great call by Coach V (Brent Venables) and everyone was in position, and I just kind of added on and tried to make a play. Logan was in position and saw the ball, scooped it up and scored.”
A week after Boston College rushed for 429 yards in a win over NC State, Clemson’s defense held Dillon and the Eagles’ ground attack to just 97 yards.
The Eagles came into the contest ranked sixth in the nation and first in the ACC with 278.3 rushing yards per game.
“We had a lot of respect for Boston College and how they run the ball,” Smith said. “A.J. Dillon, he’s a great back. He’s a big back, and they were able to rush for a lot of yards against NC State. So, that kind of perked our ears right there because NC State’s got a great defense, so we had to make sure that we were on point as a defensive group with communication and getting lined up. There was a lot of funky formations that kind of trick you as a defender and get you out of position, and that’s how they kind of make their hey.
“So, we were on point today — great calls, guys executing the play, and we were able to be successful.”
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