No one expected UConn to come in and move the football against Clemson’s proud defense on Saturday. But the Huskies were expected to at least get over 100 yards of total offense.
However, that is not what happened.
UConn, instead, managed just 99 total yards, including minus-17 on the ground, as the Tigers rolled to a 44-7 victory at Death Valley.
The 99 yards Clemson surrendered marked the first time since 2009 it held an FBS opponent under the century mark, while the minus-17 rushing yards ranked as the fifth best performance by a Clemson defense all-time.
“I the loved the passion, the intensity, the preparation to detail, they just had a real determined spirit to them,” Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables said about his unit.
The Tigers (7-3) also had six sacks, two interceptions and held the Huskies to 0-for-14 on third down. It represented the first time Clemson held an opponent to zero third-down conversions since 1992 when it did it against North Carolina (0-for-8).
It was Clemson’s third time holding an opponent without a third-down conversion since 1978 (1992 vs. North Carolina, 1978 vs. Wake Forest).
Venables could not recall if he coached a defense the held an opponent without a third down conversion.
“I usually just remember the bad plays,” he said after the game. “My memory is not very good when it comes to fun facts, to be honest. But we were due. We have been talking about third downs and being more precise. We have been talking about finishing plays and making those layups.
“So, today was a better day. There are still some things we will watch on film that we need to correct and fix, but today, it was all good.”
The Huskies’ only points came on a 99-yard kickoff return by Brian Brewton to open the game. From there, the Clemson defense took over. The Tigers’ six sacks were a season high. They also tallied nine tackles behind the line of scrimmage.
“Man, our defense was tremendous,” head coach Dabo Swinney said. “It was the first time since 1992 (the opponent) was 0-for (nothing) on third down. I think it was 0-for-14.”
UConn (1-9) was also 0-for-4 on fourth down Saturday.
“I know 0-for-4 on fourth down does not count as a turnover, but I count them as turnovers,” Swinney said. “They were a huge four stops on downs, and obviously, we got the two takeaways. It was a just a great day.
“Six sacks and a great job by Mario [Goodrich] and Sheridan [Jones] to get the turnovers, as well, and then they were negative in rush yards. It was just a really, really good day defensively.”
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