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Big Clemson Win Heading Into FSU Game

Big Win for Clemson

Saturday night the Tigers made a statement getting a 48-14 win over Florida Atlantic. Clemson played its cleanest game turnover wise thus far in 2023 and it made a huge difference. Dabo Swinney’s team looked as strong and prepared as ever. Now with a very good win against a solid FAU team, the Tigers need to carry that momentum into the week four matchup with Florida State. If they can keep the turnover numbers down once again, they will give themselves a really good shot at beating the Seminoles.

Minimizing the Turnovers

Nothing has plagued the Tigers’ season more than turnovers. As talked about in the week three preview cutting out the turnovers would be crucial to the Tigers getting the win this week, and building success for the rest of the season. Coming into this week the Tigers had six turnovers in their first two games. In this game, Clemson only gave the ball up once from a muffed punt on special teams. The offense did not put the ball on the ground once all night. The defense on the other hand collected four turnovers overall. Winning the turnover battle four to one proved to be beneficial for the Tigers getting the victory as 14 of their points came off of turnovers.

Efficient Offense

As expected, week after week the Clemson offense starts to look much better. The players at every position appear to gain confidence in what they are doing and what their role is as the season progresses. The run and short passing games again looked very good and set things up for the Tigers to get a couple of big plays downfield. Running back Phil Mafah had another good game finishing with five rushes for 42 yards and a touchdown.

Cade Klubnik’s game is maturing each week. In terms of his decision-making, this might have been his best game as the starter. Klubnik started out hot in the first quarter. By the end of it, he already completed eight of nine passing attempts for 76 yards and two touchdowns. The sophomore made all the right decisions to start the game. He went through his progressions well, found the open guys and when nothing was there he used his legs. The third quarter got a bit sloppy but overall for only his fourth start at the college level he showed much growth. Klubnik finished completing 16 of 27 passes for 169 yards and three touchdowns. He also ran six times for 35 yards and a touchdown.

It was not just Klubnik who showed a lot of growth though. The receivers stepped up big time as well. On the night 14 different receivers caught a pass. Two guys who had great games though were Tyler Brown and Jake Briningstool. Brown was the one who muffed the punt, but he more than made up for it with his play the rest of the game. Brown had three catches for 49 yards and two touchdowns. One touchdown was on a 30-yard pass play. Briningstool was a guy who needed to get more involved in the passing game this week and he did. He got himself 3 catches as well for 18 yards and a touchdown. This is the kind of momentum the offense needed to get ready for that Florida State defense next week.

Playmaking Defense

On defense, the Tigers made plays all night long. It started with Nate Wiggins getting the pick-six on the first drive of the game. This would be the first of two interceptions that Casey Thompson would throw before leaving the game with a knee injury in the second quarter. Altogether the defense tallied three interceptions on the night and four turnovers overall. Wade Woodaz got an interception for the second week in a row. The other Tiger who got an interception was Khalil Barnes who had a monster game.

Barnes was all over the field against FAU making plays. He finished the night with six total tackles, one tackle for loss, one interception, two pass breakups, and one forced fumble. All night the freshman made sure his name was called. Another Tiger who had a great game was Barrett Carter, making tackles everywhere on the field. Carter had seven total tackles and assisted on a tackle for loss. The whole defensive line and linebacker core of Clemson applied pressure all night though. There were two sacks on the night for the defense, one by TJ Parker and another by Jaylin Philips. The defensive front for Clemson also only gave up 83 rushing yards all night.

All around this was a very strong performance by the defense. There are so many playmakers on this defense not just in the starting 11 but also going into the second and even third team. Young players are stepping up big time which is a great sign for the future of the program. A performance like this will go a long way in staying atop the ACC.


This was Clemson’s strongest performance of the year by far this young season. A big reason for that was cutting out the turnovers. When the Tigers are not giving the ball up, they look like a whole different team. A much more dominant team that has run the ACC for years and could continue to do so.  The young players finally getting their chances and stepping up is making the Tigers look more like the team we expected them to be. FAU was a good test to prepare for Florida State. Now it is up to Swinney’s squad to carry this momentum into noon this Saturday. If Clemson wants to shut down the hype and show they are still the “gold standard” of the ACC this is the Clemson team that will need to show up and they will still have to give a little more.


Big Win for Clemson

Photo courtesy: Gannett-USA TODAY NETWORK


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