Clemson edged Syracuse 17-14 for its first road win of the season.
Once again, the offense lacked rhythm or consistency, but the Tigers found a way to get it done on defense.
Head coach Dabo Swinney felt his team did just enough to secure a victory.
“We did enough to win the game and that is the objective,” Swinney said. “We have a lot of work to keep improving, but we have won two in a row and that is some momentum for us.”
Clemson’s defense started slow and allowed Syracuse running back Sean Tucker to run the ball effectively in the first half.
Tucker, the Football Bowl Subdivision’s leading rusher, toted the ball 12 times for 132 yards in the first half on Friday. But in the second half the Tigers held him to 25 yards on 10 carries.
For defensive coordinator Brent Venables it proved a tale of two halves.
I thought they blocked us and were doing some things schematically that were a little bit different, we prepared for everything, but you can’t simulate it in practice,” Venables said about the opening half.
“But they had 26 yards rushing in the second half, 25 for him and we did a much better job just getting settled in and getting in a groove,” he continued.
Not only did the Tigers’ defense bottle up Tucker in the second half. But the unit shut down quarterback Garrett Shrader for the entire game.
Syracuse rushed for 354 yards last week against Wake Forest and Shrader ran for 178 yards on 29 carries. On Friday night the sophomore ran seven times for six yards.
Baylon Spector felt the Tigers prepared adequately and executed well to keep Schrader from extending the pocket.
“He’s a great player and a great talent and he can run with his legs because he’s a super talented guy,” the linebacker said. “We had to be ready because when he scrambles, he can make plays so we wanted to confine him so he couldn’t get out and make those long plays with his legs.”
Clemson returns to action next Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at Pittsburgh.
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