Despite starting nine new guys on defense in last week’s opening win over Wake Forest, Clemson’s defense did not miss a beat.
The Demon Deacons managed just 113 total yards in the first half, including just 13 rushing yards as the Tigers shut them out while building a 27-0 lead. Though Wake finished the game with 330 total yards, most of those yards came after Clemson built a 34-point lead late in the third quarter.
Clemson’s nine new starters were dominant, while also the edition of freshmen Myles Murphy and Bryan Bresee helped the defensive line control the line of scrimmage all night. Eight of the Tigers’ 11 starters on defense were sophomores.
The Tigers were missing starters Xavier Thomas and Justin Foster at defensive end, while corners Derion Kendrick and Mario Goodrich also missed the game. Early in the contest, All-ACC defensive tackle Tyler Davis left the game with an injury.
“Really proud and pleased and excited about a lot of young players that really flashed and really played well, whether it was guys up front or guys on the backend,” Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables said.
Of course, not everything was good. The Tigers, who will host The Citadel this Saturday at Death Valley, did give up 293 passing yards and several times they were burned by a deep ball or lost out on a 50-50 ball.
However, Wake had just 37 rushing yards and averaged just 1.1 yards per carry. Clemson had 11 tackles for loss and six sacks, while holding the Demon Deacons to 5-of-17 on third down.
“We got plenty of things we have to get better and improve,” Venables said. “Again, just playing sound and disciplined and getting fundamentally better the right way. Guys will do that. This is a developmental game and guys will get better. That is through repetition, so it is good to get the first game jitters out of them. I am really pleased with the overall effort.”
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