The opponent on the other sideline is becoming irrelevant when it comes to the Clemson Tigers. In the last 17 contests, they have won all but two by double digits, and many of those games haven’t been competitive past halftime. Clemson continues to roll over the opposition regardless of who they are or what conference they come from. Their standard of play is at an elite level, and they never seem to lack the focus or intensity to rise to it. That is a testament of the coaches attention to detail, and the players buying in to each week’s preparation.
Clemson Continues To Roll Regardless Of Opposition
The Texas A&M Aggies provided perhaps the toughest test the Tigers faced all of last season. This year’s match-up in week two was thought to be a good measuring stick for 2019. If that indeed is the case, Clemson continues to be at the top looking down on the rest of the college football world. They took care of business 24-10, in a game that was never in doubt past the midway point of the second quarter.
Attack, Attack, Attack
The Tiger’s defense was possibly filled with some question marks after losing so much talent from last season. But through two games, they have allowed just 12 points and 291 yards per contest. It was tough to gauge the new look defense after the blowout of Georgia Tech, because of the transition that program is undergoing. The SEC’s Aggies were thought to provide a much sterner test. That did not happen. Clemson continues to be dominant on that defensive side of the ball, smothering Texas A&M and making their quarterback Kellen Mond look rattled all game.
Once the Tigers get the lead, they ratchet up the pressure. They will blitz and blitz and blitz, knowing they have teams on their heels. That pressure breaks most offensive game plans, as Clemson continues to bring the heat. Isaiah Simmons has emerged as the leader and top play maker on the 2019 unit, with 16 tackles in two games. For the past five seasons, the Tigers have lived in opponents’ back fields. They lead the nation in tackles for loss over that time span, and have 11 so far this season.
The Tigers’ superstar signal caller Trevor Lawrence has not been at his best so far this year. He has not been bad by any means, but its clear he has not hit top gear. Luckily for him he has two of the most dynamic pass catchers in the nation. Even when Lawrence isn’t on point, Justyn Ross and Tee Higgins are still capable of making plays. Their ability to make tough catches through, around, and over opposing defenders has been on full display in 2019. This duo is quickly proving themselves to be as talented as some of the greatest wide receivers in program history.
Ross hasn’t yet broken off any of the big plays he became known for as a freshman, but he still leads the team in receptions. Higgins is averaging 21 yards per catch. He continues to impress with his ability to attack the ball while its in the air. Each of these wide outs has great hands and the unique ability to adjust to the ball while mid flight. As Lawrence settles in throughout the season, expect the big plays in the passing game to become both more explosive and frequent.
Ground And Pound
While the air attack has yet to hit high gear, the running game is steamrolling over defenses. Travis Etienne had over 200 yards in the opener, and the Tigers are averaging 266 yards a game on the ground. The Aggies came to town determined to stop Etienne from running wild. They had success in doing so, holding him to 53 yards on 16 carries. The Tigers’ offensive staff adjusted beautifully as the game wore on. They started to get their star tailback the ball in the pass game to get him more open space to make plays.
They also utilized his explosive back-up, Lyn-J Dixon, who averaged 7.2 yards on his 11 carries. Texas A&M loaded the box to stop Etienne, but played the pass more when he was off the field. Dixon took full advantage of the space he was given. This offense is loaded with weapons and is more than comfortable beating teams in a variety of ways. Even more important is that the staff recognizes when in game adjustments are necessary and has the willingness to make them.
17 And Counting
Clemson continues to pile up dominant performances, and their current 17 game win streak is tied for the longest in school history. They will look to break that record as they travel to the Carrier Dome to face the Syracuse Orange this weekend. It was thought that this two week stretch could define the Tigers’ season if the happened to slip up. The Aggies were dispatched with ease, now its on to a conference foe. No other ACC school has given Clemson the type of problems the Orange has over the past two seasons. However, Syracuse got pummeled against Maryland this past weekend, taking some of the luster off of this match-up.
Ultimately, it doesn’t seem to matter to the reigning national champs. They have become an elite program by defining things with their own level of performance. Clemson now measures itself by its own standard, knowing how they play will determine the outcome regardless of the opponent. They have proven they have the focus and precision to perform each week. It doesn’t matter who is on the opposing sideline. As long as Clemson continues to do this, the wins will come in bulk.