Tigers slowly but surely took them apart in every phase of the game
All week leading up to Saturday’s night game, all we heard was if “The U” was back. Was this the year when Miami truly shows it can once again compete with “the Big Boys” in college football?
The answer was a resounding no. And it was not anything the seventh-ranked Hurricanes did. It was what Clemson did.
The top-ranked Tigers proved once again why they are the kings of the ACC and perhaps all of college football, as it once again embarrassed Miami, 42-17, at Frank Howard Field in Clemson.
Clemson was not perfect, it was far from it, but it dominated Miami in such a way that every one of the 19,000 watching at Memorial Stadium and the millions back home knew the game was over even before halftime.
Even when Miami’s DJ Ivey picked up a blocked kick and returned it 48 yards for a touchdown on the last play of the first half, no one thought the Hurricanes were going to make a comeback. Clemson just methodically took apart the Hurricanes in every way.
“I love the mental toughness and mental focus of our team,” head coach Dabo Swinney said. “I thought we controlled the game from really the opening kick. We certainly had a lot of miscues and things that we would like to have back, but to see our team respond over and over again was awesome to see.”
Clemson (4-0, 3-0 ACC) dominated the Hurricanes on both sides of the line of scrimmage. Miami rushed for just 89 yards, while the Tigers tallied 258. The ‘Canes averaged just 3.9 yards per play, while Clemson averaged 6.2.
The Tigers forced three turnovers, sacked the quarterback five times, and held Miami to just 210 total yards. Miami had had just 79 total yards in the first half and 132 entering the fourth quarter.
After hearing all week how dynamic and exciting quarterback D’Eriq King is, Clemson’s defense made him look human. Though he rushed for 84 yards, he did not score until 8:31 left in the game on a 7-yard run.
He completed just 12-of-28 passes for 121 yards, was intercepted twice. He came into the night completing better than 66 percent of his passes with no interceptions.
“As players, we just go with the game plan the coaches give us,” linebacker Baylon Spector said. “We do the best we can and try to execute that the best we can. We just had players underneath that were just ready to go get the quarterback.
“We saw that one play where he carried it all the way to the red zone. He is a very explosive player, but at the end of the day it comes down to the game plan and the players that have to execute it.”
On the offensive side, Clemson executed the game plan well, too. Whether it was a perfect throwback pass to Braden Galloway from Trevor Lawrence for a 24-yard touchdown to get things started or a 72-yard run by running back Travis Etienne.
The Tigers finished the game with 88 plays, 44 rushing and 44 passing. They had 550 total yards.
“We had a good plan to attack them,” offensive coordinator Tony Elliott said. “If we need to throw the ball, we threw the ball. If we needed to run it, we would run it. Once we got into the game, they had two weeks to get ready for us, so we were expecting the possibility of some new stuff, but once we got dialed in on what they were doing, the guys went down and executed.
“We’re just proud of their overall performance, but the beautiful thing is we left some stuff out there on the field. We left a couple of scoring drives on the field, which is going to be awesome to show these guys and keep them hungry as we move forward.”
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