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Clemson Keeps Rolling to the Finish Line

Clemson Keeps Rolling to the Finish Line

For the first time this season Clemson has won its third straight game. The Tigers got their second upset win in the month of November beating North Carolina 31-20. This is their second win in 2023 against a top-25 opponent. The win keeps Clemson undefeated through November so far at 3-0 since the month started. For another week, Clemson’s late-season surge continues.

Defense Does it Again

While the defense did give up a couple of big plays in this game, the overall performance of the Tigers’ defense was great once again. The most important thing was the amount of pressure the defensive front got against UNC quarterback Drake Maye. Through the air the Clemson defense made Maye look fairly pedestrian in this game. He finished the day 16 of 36 passing for 209 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. He tried to get things done with his legs as he also ran for 67 yards as well on some really good scramble plays.

The Tiger defense would just be too much though as they were able to collect four sacks on the day. Ruke Orhorhoro was in Maye’s face for much of the game. He has done a great job all year of causing pressure on the interior of the line of scrimmage. Orhorhoro continued his impressive play adding four tackles, a sack, and a tackle for loss. Two other Clemson defenders who had spectacular days were Jeremiah Trotter Jr and Nate Wiggins.

Trotter continues to prove he is one of the best defensive players in all of college football. The junior linebacker always seems like he is everywhere on the field at once. Making plays in both the pass and run game Trotter finished the game with 11 total tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, one sack, and a pass breakup.

Wiggins also showed he can do a little bit of everything too. Even as a cornerback, he showed he is not afraid to make plays in the run game as well as taking care of his responsibilities in the passing game. Wiggins got himself seven total tackles, one pass breakup, and an interception. Most impressively he did a great job making tackles on the edge of that defense.

Ground Game Gets It Going Again

For the third straight game, the Tiger offense leaned on the run game to get things going and again it worked. Clemson ran the ball 53 times against the Tar Heels. Phil Mafah, Will Shipley, and Cade Klubnik each got a rushing touchdown. Getting Klubnik involved in the running game might’ve been one of the most important things the Tigers did in this game. As the top dual-threat quarterback in his class coming into Clemson, it has been surprising the play calling did not have more of this sooner. Regardless, it really helped keep the Heels defense on their toes. Mafah, Shipley, and Klubnik combined for 247 rushing yards on the day. Shipley had an especially great day gaining 128 yards on the ground. Mafah ran hard as usual as well getting 84 rush yards himself.

This great rushing attack again opened up the windows for Klubnik to throw the ball downfield. Letting the run open up the run-pass option as well as the play-action game has helped Klubnik tremendously. Throwing the football, Klubnik finished the day completing 21 of 32 pass attempts for 219 yards and a touchdown. No interceptions this week.

On to Columbia

Clemson now rolls into rivalry week and the last game of the season with the most momentum they have had all season. They have finally got themselves on a bit of a winning streak, and have been able to knock off two very good top-25 teams in the process. Now they look to avenge the loss from last season in Death Valley to South Carolina. With the Gamecocks looking to become bowl-eligible in the game, the Tigers need to enter Williams-Brice with a chip on their shoulder.

 

Clemson Keeps Rolling to the Finish Line
Photo courtesy: Ken Ruinard-USA TODAY Sports

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