How this Clemson defense compared statistically to the last one

How this Clemson defense compared statistically to the last one


How this Clemson defense compared statistically to the last one


The final numbers are in.

Clemson’s identity over the course of the 2021 season was a defensive-oriented team that needed to do just enough on offense. The Tigers stayed true to form in their Cheez-It Bowl win.

Clemson finished with 315 yards and found the end zone just once, but the Tigers also got two field goals from B.T. Potter and some help from the defense to end their season with a 20-13 win last week. Clemson suffocated one of the Big 12’s top offenses to the tune of 270 total yards and used Mario Goodrich’s pick-six to notch its 10th and final win of the season.

With all but two starters back, the defense was once again among the nation’s best under the guidance of coordinator Brent Venables, who parlayed the Tigers’ success on that side of the ball over the years into his first head coaching job at Oklahoma. Just how close did Clemson come to matching or exceeding its defensive performance from a season ago?

With just one game left in this college football season, here’s how Clemson’s defense finished out of 130 Football Bowl Subdivision teams in major statistical categories compared to last season. Numbers in parentheses indicate the Tigers’ national ranking for that category.

Points allowed

2021: 14.8 per game (2)

2020: 20.2 (18)

Total yards allowed

2021: 305.5 per game (8)

2020: 326.8 (15)

Rushing yards allowed

2021: 96.3 per game (7)

2020: 112.7 (15)

Passing yards allowed

2021: 209.2 per game (34)

2020: 214.2 (41)

First downs

2021: 222 (t-14)

2020: 192 (66)

Third-down conversions

2021: 34.1% (21)

2020: 31.2% (10)

Fourth-down conversions

2021: 41.7% (30)

2020: 36.8% (16)

Red zone

2021: 64.5% (2)

2020: 77.4 (31)


2021: 3.23 per game (9)

2020: 3.83 (5)

Tackles for loss

2021: 7.1 per game (13)

2020: 9.1 (3)


2021: 12 (t-40)

2020: 14 (t-9)

Turnover margin

2021: plus-0.23 (45)

2020: plus-0.67 (22)


2021: 6.08 per game (64)

2020: 5.42 (44)

Special teams

Punt average

2021: 38.4 (82)

2020: 37.8 (79)

Punt return average

2021: 4.43 (117)

2020: 9.46 (34)

Kickoff return average

2021: 24.8 (20)

2020: 22.8 (36)

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