Clemson senior safety Tanner Muse admits he is a little bit bothered by the lack of attention the Tigers’ defense is getting from some in the media despite their high level of performance on that side of the ball.
Third-ranked Clemson is coming off its best defensive performance of the season in its 59-7 win over Boston College on Saturday, when the unit held the Eagles to just 177 total yards of offense – the fewest allowed by the Tigers in 2019 and the fewest they’ve allowed since limiting Boston College to 113 yards last season.
Clemson forced 11 punts and gave up only 10 first downs while holding BC to a 2-of-15 clip on third down and scoring a defensive touchdown for the second time in three weeks.
“I think it’s just the way the media is nowadays. It’s so all about offense,” Muse said on Monday. “Nobody really gets excited for a third-down stop anymore. You don’t see it on ESPN, you don’t see it on the highlight reels… So, I don’t know. It just kind of tears me up when we’ll have a shutout — like we just had 7 points and we gave up less than 200 yards — you don’t see that on ESPN. You don’t see the turnovers that we caused, you don’t see the stops that we caused… I don’t know.”
Clemson (8-0, 6-0 ACC) became the fourth team since 2000 to hold each of its first eight opponents of a season to 300 or fewer total yards, joining 2006 LSU, 2011 Alabama and 2012 Alabama.
Heading into Week 10 of the college football season, the Tigers are tied for sixth nationally in scoring defense (11.4 points per game allowed), ranked No. 2 in passing defense (136.1 yards per game) and No. 4 in total defense (246.1 yards per game) while also ranking in the top 10 in stats such as sacks (30.0; tied for sixth) and tackles for loss (66.0; tied for seventh).
Although the Tigers are playing lights out on defense, Muse feels the unit tends to get a bit overshadowed by Clemson’s offense which features a lot of star power in Trevor Lawrence, Travis Etienne, Tee Higgins, Justyn Ross and others.
However, Muse knows Clemson has plenty of elite talent on defense, too.
“I think A.J. Terrell is one of the top corners in the nation,” he said. “I think Isaiah (Simmons) is the best defensive player in the nation. K’Von Wallace is one of the best safeties in the nation. I think the fan base may (know) more names on the offensive side because it’s such a high-powered offense.”
As good as the Tigers are playing defensively, Muse says Clemson’s 2014 defense is still the standard the current defense wants to live up to.
That year’s unit finished first nationally in total defense (260.8 yards per game), third in scoring defense (16.7 points per game), second in passing defense (157.4 yards per game) and fifth in rushing defense (103.38 yards per game).
“I think the standard is set from the 2014 team, which was the best defense we’ve had here,” Muse said. “That’s the standard, and we’re all just trying to get to that standard or better.”
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