With the absence of Xavier Thomas, top-ranked Clemson had question marks surrounding its defensive line ahead of last weekend’s win at Wake Forest.
Freshmen Myles Murphy and Bryan Bresee answered those questions with an exclamation point and recorded three tackles, a half sack and a blocked field goal in their first action as Tigers.
Murphy had pregame jitters ahead of his first game but when the game kicked off, he replaced that anxiety with poised and proceeded to lead the Clemson defense against the Demon Deacons.
“It was special, honestly, on my first drive I was very nervous but when you make first contact on the field all the anxiety and jitters leave your body,” Murphy said. “I was telling myself that this is football, the same game I’ve played my whole life and the rest of the game felt like high school ball, so I did what I do on the field.”
The Georgia native led Clemson defenders in tackles, tackles-for-loss and sacks in his first game. Murphy finished with seven tackles, three tackles-for-loss and two sacks for a loss of eight yards.
Murphy earned his first career sack in the second quarter. Murphy finished with 2.0 sacks, the most by a Clemson true freshman since Dexter Lawrence against Virginia Tech in the 2016 ACC Championship.
It is no secret that defensive coordinator Brent Venables runs a complex scheme. Murphy feels he has a strong grasp on the system but still has a way to go before he has complete knowledge of the playbook.
“Honestly, all I can do is my best to learn the system and I feel like I’m coming along pretty well with the playbook,” he said. “It feels like he keeps adding onto the playbook but that’s who Coach Venables is and what makes him so good at what he does. I don’t know everything, but for what I do know it is paying off.”
Murphy and the young defensive line are eager to play in front of a home crowd of 19,000 on Saturday afternoon in Memorial Stadium. Clemson kicks off against The Citadel at 4 p.m. on the ACC Network.