CLEMSON, S.C. (WSPA) – The Tigers enter week two coming off of a convincing win over Wake Forest and now prepare for The Citadel in their home opener. It’s a series in which Clemson has won seventeen straight.
The Bulldogs lost to South Florida in the opener, 27-6. It was a slow start for the offense, a unit that managed just two field goals in the first half and was held scoreless through the final thirty minutes.
But there were still signs of life in their triple-option scheme as they managed to rush for two hundred yards in the contest and rattled off a couple of big plays, including a 41-yard scamper by running back Raleigh Webb in the first half. Senior quarterback Brandon Rainey added 65 yards on the ground. Despite their overall lack of success in week one, they have the capability of breaking a big play at any given time.
The passing game was relatively nonexistent in the opener as Rainey was just 4-18 for 84 yards and one interception. The team also fumbled four times, losing two of them in a game where they were minus 3 in the turnover margin, making a clear impact on how the game played out. In situational football the Bulldogs were 8-18 on third down conversions, a 44% rate.
Defensively, the Bulldogs gave up over three hundred yards on the ground to USF at a 7.7 yards per carry clip. The Bulls converted 5 of 12 third down conversions. They did, however, hold the Bulls to just 102 yards passing at just over four yards per pass. The Citadel relies heavily on winning the time of possession battle, something they were successful at in week one (32:17 to USF’s 27:43), but turnovers and a lack of efficiency contributed mightily to their inability to capitalize and create momentum.
On special teams the kicking game was a bright spot on a rather dim afternoon for The CItadel. Kicker Colby Kintner was 2-2 on field goal attempts, converting a 45 and 41-yarder which became their only points of the game. The punt unit was not as successful. A mishandled snap in their own endzone led to a USF touchdown in what was a close 7-6 ball game at the time. The gaffe shifted momentum and kick-started the Bulls’ run.
The Tigers lived up to the hype in their first contest of the season against Wake Forest. Clemson tallied over five hundred yards of total offense in a 37-13 rout of the Demon Deacons. Trevor Lawrence was an efficient 22-28 for 351 yards and one score through the air while adding two touchdowns on the ground as Clemson jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter.
Travis Etienne notched his 18th one hundred yard rushing performance, a school record, at six yards per carry. After a comfortable 37-3 lead in the third quarter, the Tigers sent in the reserves. Clemson converted over half of their third down attempts and out-possessed Wake Forest, 34:44 to 25:16.
On defense, the Tigers were stout against the run allowing just 34 yards on 37 attempts. Their run defense will be tested heavily this week against the Bulldogs. They were relentless at rushing the passer as well, tallying six sacks. The only touchdown they gave up was with just over two minutes remaining with the game fully in hand. Although they had success in nearly every facet of the game, Clemson lost the turnover battle as they were unable to collect any takeaways while Taisun Phommachanh threw an interception on the Tigers’ final possession of the game. They’ll likely need to force a couple in week two if they hope to stymie The Citadel’s clock-draining attack.
Junior kicker B.T. Potter was a perfect 3-3 on field goal attempts, including a long of 52 yards.
Clemson has defeated The Citadel each of the last seventeen matchups dating back to 1933, the last time the Bulldogs were victorious against the Tigers. In their most recent meeting, on November 18, 2017, Clemson defeated The Citadel, 61-3.
Despite all their recent success, and bringing a number-one ranking into the contest, Clemson’s strong defensive front will need to be present early and often to thwart any hopes of the Bulldogs maintaining long drives, increasing their chances of breaking a big play. On offense, a heavy dose of Etienne on the ground could be the formula to mounting an early lead. Assignment football figures to be the key to Clemson shutting down the option.
It will be the season-opener in Death Valley as Clemson welcomes roughly 19,000 fans to Memorial Stadium. The Tigers play host to The Citadel on Saturday at 4 p.m.