Clemson is top Tiger; defense keys win over Auburn

Sep 11, 2017, 00:38
Clemson is top Tiger; defense keys win over Auburn

"Ryan Carter's play down the field, it was a thing of beauty", said Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney. "They're the defending national champs".

Clemson scored a playoff-case-boosting nonconference win over an SEC team in which it allowed just six points, and it will continue its pursuit of a third straight playoff bid with a road trip to Louisville next week, where its defensive line will be faced with Heisman victor Lamar Jackson ... but also a vulnerable Cardinals offensive line.

Alabama-like defensive pressure was the formula. After a 2016 season with multiple quarterbacks, Baylor transfer Jarrett Stidham is the new Auburn quarterback.

The majority of Auburn's effectiveness was confined to the first half, where it managed two field goals on its first three possessions. Junior quarterback Kelly Bryant directed two long scoring drives. "It wasn't flawless, but we can build on it". "But offensively we just didn't get it done".

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Auburn played a lot of men in the box on a consistent basis, daring Clemson QB Kelly Bryant to win with his arm, as opposed to his legs. Two years ago, Clemson defatted Notre Dame 24-22 in the face of a historic rainstorm that led to catastrophic flooding throughout much of the state. The Tigers appeared to be missing the explosiveness of Kam Martin, who curiously didn't get any carries, and Kerryon Johnson, who was out for the game after injuring his hamstring in Week 1. Clemson's game against Auburn on Saturday, however, presented a different challenge.

The difference this year is Clemson will have to learn if it can build toward matching last year's offensive fireworks. The Tigers did lose a ton of talent to the National Football League from last year's team. That turned out to be misleading.

Bryant looked like he might be seriously hurt when he hit the ground hard after running backward with Russell in pursuit.

His return was the grit that Swinney saw in his team. After all, the Tigers had to replace a number of key players this fall, including Deshaun Watson, Wayne Gallman, Mike Williams, Carlos Watkins, Ben Boulware, Cordrea Tankersley, and Jadar Johnson.

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Instead, they should remember what happened next: With less than four minutes remaining in the half and down 6-0, Bryant completed 6 of 9 passes for 79 yards - including going 3 of 3 on third down - and ran in the go-ahead touchdown with 42 seconds remaining before halftime.

Jackson continued his torrid start to the 2017 season by torching North Carolina for 525 total yards and six touchdowns on Saturday afternoon.

Bryant completed 19 of 29 passes for 181 yards, but it was his running ability that keyed the victory. That was enough to get by, thanks to the defense. The Tigers limited Auburn to just 117 yards on 66 plays - an average of just 1.8 yards per play. In college football, sack yardage is subtracted from the rushing total.

Clemson, which has led the nation in total tackles for loss each of the past four seasons, had 14 tackles for loss, including 11 sacks - one shy of the school record.

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Swinney in particular paid kudos to Wallace, the sophomore who finished with three tackles and logged significant minutes.

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