Good, Bad and the Ugly
What a difference a month can make. A month to get people healthy and to gameplan. On November 7th, the Clemson Tigers took to the road, traveled to South Bend, and took on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish without the services of starting Quarterback Trevor Lawrence, starting linebackers James Skalski and Mike Jones, Jr., and starting defensive tackle Tyler Davis.
DJ Uiagalelei accepted the challenge, threw for 439 yards, but the tigers came up short. By the end of the game, the defense, already short three starters to begin with, was short tive more starters and Notre Dame took advantage in double OT to edge the Tigers 47-40. Fans stormed the field (what epidemic). The Tigers hit the road back home, and while there were two more games to play before the ACC Championship game, you could feel the resolve leading up to last night’s rematch.
The “Good” was plentiful last night.
‘It would be a crying shame if the Heisman Trophy doesn’t attach its name to Trevor Lawrence. That’s what I’ve got to say about that guy.” Coach Dabo Swinney could not have said it any better. All Lawrence did was complete 25-36 (2 for spikes to stop the clock) for 322 yards, two touchdown passes, and to top that off, he added 90 yards on 14 carries and another touchdown. Playing on a team that routinely has the game in hand by the 3rd quarter, Lawrence rarely has a chance to put the team on his back and carry them to the finish line. That’s just what he did last night. TL is the ultimate game manager.
Travis Etienne hadn’t had a 100-yard rushing game since October 10th against Miami. He put that to rest last night with a solid 124 yard night and a beautiful 44-yard touchdown run in the 2nd quarter. Amara Rodgers? What can you say about Rodgers. He had 8 catches for 121 yards and a 67-yard TD reception for the Tigers first touchdown of the night.
Clemson is widely known as WRU of college football. Freshman E.J. Williams fits that mold. For the night, Williams hauled in four passes for 80 yards and a 33-yard TD reception in the 2nd quarter. The #2 highlight on ESPN was a circus one-handed catch in the 3rd quarter that resulted in a Tiger first down.
The offensive line had it’s good and bad moments, but Walker Parks has got to be mentioned. He came on in the 2nd half to rest Jordan McFadden and made a couple of big blocks on running plays that made the announcers don him as “their favorite player”.
You can’t mention the “Good” without praising the entire defense for their effort against the Irish. In the first game, ND had their way with a Clemson defense that was depleted from start to finish. In the first game, the Irish had 208 yards rushing and 310 passing. Remember, the Tigers were without several starters to begin the game, and lost several more by halftime to injury. Last night, WITH a healthy defense, the Irish was held to 44 yards rushing and 219 passing. That’s a 255 yard difference. The “really good” part of all this? Freshmen freshmen freshmen. Bryan
Bresee and Myles Murphy are well known from this 2020 class, as is LB Trenton Simpson, but one that stood out was freshman Malcolm Greene. Greene was 2nd on the team in tackles with six and was everywhere!
As a whole, the defense gave up 263 yards of total offense to the Irish, one garbage time touchdown, sacked Ian Book six times for 39 yards in losses, and TEN tackles for loss for another -50 yards. This defense came to play and get their revenge after giving up 47 points, albeit 14 of those given up in two overtimes. Hats off to DC Brent Venables for a beautifully crafted gameplan.
It’s hard to find a lot of “ugly” in this game for the Tigers. Now, for the Irish, we could talk for days on what went wrong for them. They had no answer for Trevor Lawrence, and Book looked drastically different from the last time these two teams played. The Tiger defense kept him in the pocket and the secondary covered receivers like a blanket. The Irish were inside the Clemson 30 three times in the 1st quarter and came away with only three points. You can’t do that against a team like Clemson and expect to come out victorious.
In the 4th quarter, up by 31 points, there was a very brief lack of focus by senior safety Nolan Turner, which cost him being able to play in the 1st half of the first round of the playoffs. Turner is a valuable member of that secondary. Due to the targeting call, Turner will have to be ready to play in the 2nd half of the next game. Other than this one momentary lack of focus, this game did a 180 from the first meeting.