Top-ranked Clemson dismantled No. 7 Miami 42-17 on Saturday night as it dominated on both sides of the ball.
The Tigers (4-0, 3-0 ACC) frustrated highly touted Hurricane quarterback D’Eriq King and a high-flying offense that had only allowed three sacks in their first three contests.
Miami (3-1, 2-1 ACC) finished the game with 210 yards of total offense and struggled to gain positive yards for much of the game.
Defensive coordinator Brent Venables compiled a masterful game plan to limit explosive plays by putting King under duress and forcing him to deal with a barrage of defensive formations.
Venables attributed a lot of Clemson’s success to extra preparation and film study by the defensive players on their own time.
“I thought our guys played with great discipline and passion, we were very physical,” he said. “Our preparation, the way they practiced and watched film by investing extra time on their own really showed tonight and paid huge dividends.”
Miami averaged 232.3 yards rushing per game before Saturday when it was held to 89 yards rushing. Venables made a point for Clemson to attack the zone running game to throw off the rhythm of the Hurricanes’ up-tempo scheme.
He knew the Tigers needed to get aggressive early and throw King off pace with a variety of defensive fronts.
“We wanted to change it up to make them uncomfortable and keep them guessing,” Venables said. “They are an excellent zone running team and we really disrupted them to a point that disrupted the flow of the offense because everything they do goes through that run game.”
Clemson made it a point to live in the backfield and pressure King, before Saturday he had only been sacked three times and been pressured on 12-percent of his drop backs. The Tigers sacked King three times, hurried him twice and tackled the Canes for a loss 11 times.
He had to run for his life in a collapsing pocket which forced poor decisions in the passing game as well. King completed just 12-of-28 passes for 121 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions.
“Our guys were on the same page and created pressure. We did a really good job of collapsing the pocket and stepped up in a firm pocket,” Venables said. “We wanted to change his launch point as much as we could, and those guys complimented each other up front and in the back really well tonight.”
Schematically, Clemson ran a three-man front for most of the night with an extra linebacker. That way the Tigers could utilize their speed at linebacker and disguise blitzes to confuse King and force him into bad decisions.
Clemson returns to action on Saturday at 12 p.m. in Atlanta against ACC foe Georgia Tech.