Clemson VS LA Tech: Thoughts & Impressions
by: Grayson Mann
The Clemson Tigers played their first night game on Saturday Night. The lights were bright, and the show did not stop. Here is how the game went for The Tigers.
The first quarter was filled with bright lights and show-stopping drives led by DJ Uiagalelei and company. The Tigers came out on fire to start the game. Something very notable to point out is that week by week, the plays designed for DJ to run the ball himself have grown. The confidence in DJ is evident, and he has performed up to that standard. His best throw of the quarter came on a sideline fade to Joesph Ngata, who made an unbelievable grab. His ability to make those plays for the offense could prove valuable as conference play heats up with a trip to Wake Forest next week.
The second quarter started with another scoring drive, but one that resulted in just three points. Antonio Williams proves he can be that Amari Rodgers and Hunter Renfrow mix. He’s got superior intelligence on the football field and is the guy DJ looks for in third-down situations. Within the early portion of this game, you can see flashes of what a consistent offense can be, but they are yet to put it all together. On the defensive side of the ball, there was a mixed result. The Tigers would hold LA Tech to just field goals, but the way LA Tech moved the ball down the field is something to note for the future. As the games continue to get more challenging, this defense will have to respond in a big way. In the first half, The Bulldogs would outgain the Tigers through the air. The half would conclude with the Tigers up 13-6 in what could be summarized as a mixed bag at halftime.
The key question going into the half was how the Tigers would respond.
The Tigers would start the second half with a response. Jeremiah Trotter Jr. would come up with a significant interception that would result in a 32-yard touchdown courtesy of Will Shipley. Clemson coming out strong was a great sign that this team can handle adversity and respond well to a team’s best punches. They have done this in Atlanta to start the season against Georgia Tech. Barrett Carter would make a great read on a third-down throw that resulted in an interception. The defense came out in the third quarter with a sense of urgency, creating chaos that ended in turnovers. On the offensive side, the run game has come alive, with Will Shipley leading the charge with over 100 yards in the third. DJ, Shipley, and Mafah made great plays that helped extend drives and show a side of the offense we had not seen perform up to their standard. Clemson would continue to pull away as DJ found Beaux Collins for a 32-yard touchdown. Their connection is apparent as DJ has looked for him often in red zone situations, with Collins making the most of his targets. The third quarter would wrap up with Cade Klubnik’s first appearance of the night. The freshman quarterback generated applause as he stepped onto the field. It is evident how excited fans are to see what Cade will do in his career as a Tiger.
The fourth quarter would begin with an LA Tech score as Clemson would start to infuse some backups into the game mixed with some starters. These are the games where you see what lies behind the typical starting eleven on defense.
Clemson would slowly see their lead chipped away as the Bulldogs put together two consecutive scoring drives. The Bulldogs would throw for over 300 yards on the night, carving up Clemson’s defense in certain situations. The starters on offense, including DJ, would return to finish the job and put away the Bulldogs. This would be courtesy of a touchdown pass from DJ to Antonio Williams. Antonio continues to make plays consistently and will be a valuable part of this offense in the future. The defense would make another stand, with Kevin Swint recovering a fumbled snap. The Tigers would quickly capitalize on the turnover and let Kobe Pace go to work as he scored a touchdown to put the game away.
As the Tigers move to 3-0 on the year, there are some notable improvements and concerns. The schedule from here will only continue to grow in difficulty, so it will be interesting to see how this team progresses moving forward.
The Tigers will be on the road next week to take on the Demon Deacons, who will be the Tiger’s toughest test of the year so far.