Every season has its games where dominant teams will face outmatched opponents before facing better opponents in the conference schedule. 2020 has minimized this type of schedule as the ACC and Big 12 are the only two conferences allowing out of conference games. Clemson was able to face the Citadel as their out of conference opponent. The Tigers put away the Citadel early with a score of 49-0.
Grabbing A Big Lead Fast
The Citadel was clearly outmatched and it showed early. Clemson jumped out to a 28 point lead in the first quarter. Three scores early from Trevor Lawrence and a defensive score from James Skalski kept the Bulldogs from having any chance. Lawrence also added another touchdown in the second quarter before being replaced by DJ Uiagalelei. The Tigers finished off the first half with two rushing touchdowns by Uiagalelei.
Statistically, efficiency was the key to success for the Tigers. Lawrence missed one pass attempt in going 8/9 with 168 yards. Though he did not have a score, Travis Etienne did improve his efficiency from 6.0 yards per carry last week to 8.5 this week. Etienne also added a 44-yard punt return to set up the offense at the Citadel five-yard line. The Clemson defense was also incredibly efficient by allowing only 86 yards on the ground to the Citadel.
Backups Find Big Playing Time
With another big win, Clemson was able to feed a steady stream of substitutes into the game and allow their starters to rest. It was starting in the second quarter as Uiagalelei came in for Lawrence and Etienne only saw the field for the first 20 minutes. Uiagalelei and Taisun Phommachanh rotated series on the field until the final drive of the game. While Uiagelelei did run for two touchdowns in the second quarter, neither he nor Phommachanh was able to produce in the second half. The offense did not produce a single point and lost three turnovers. A lack of scoring might seem troublesome, but a scoreless second half is nothing to worry about. The defense was pitching a complete shutout and the offensive reserves were still moving the ball down the field.
The defense was able to give many players opportunities as well. Last week, 26 players found their way on the stat sheet. 32 athletes were able to make their way onto the stat sheet this week with at least one tackle. Brent Venables’ defense has already answered the bell by replacing starters in conference competition, now they are showing that they can finish a complete shutout. Big games are ahead for this defense and Venables should be confident in the abilities of his reserves.
On To The Wa-Hoos
Dabo Swinney’s Tigers have now easily controlled their first two games. This coming Saturday, the Tigers will face another ACC opponent in Virginia. The Cavaliers are coming into their first game of the season after having two games postponed due to COVID-19 concerns. Expect the Cavaliers to come out swinging against the Tigers and be much more competitive than Clemson’s previous opponents. Even though Virginia did not prove much competition in their 62-17 loss to Clemson last year, the progression of Bronco Mendenhall’s program will prove that they will be a much better match than either Wake Forest or the Citadel. As the game progresses, the Tigers should gain a comfortable lead to put away the Cavaliers.