|by Nikki Steele|
After jumping out to a quick 21-0 lead, Wake Forest’s defense started to slow Tajh Boyd and Clemson’s offense down; however, the Tiger lead 28-7 at half time.
Player of the half: Tajh Boyd looked out of synch for most of the games against South Carolina State and North Carolina State, but Boyd appeared to be having fun and hitting on all cylinders once again. Boyd completed 13-of-18 passes for 286 yards and three touchdowns. Boyd also rushed for one score.
Stat of the half: During the first half, Boyd threw for 286 yards – 42 more than he had during all of last week’s game against N.C. State. Clemson also has 361 total yards and is averaging nine yards per play, compared to just 3.7 yards per play for Wake Forest.
What’s working for the Tigers: On offense, Boyd is spreading the ball around to all of his receivers as well as mixing in the run to keep the Wake Forest defense off balance. Boyd appears more comfortable in the pocket and is having an easier time connecting with Sammy Watkins downfield for the big play. Defensively, the Tigers have gotten good pressure on Wake Forest quarterback Tanner Price.
Clemson receiver Mike Williams - a true freshman - also caught the first touchdown pass of his career, and he looks like a player who will continue to compete for playing time.
What’s not working for the Tigers: Injuries were big in the first half for the Tigers. Running back Roderick McDowell, defensive back Martin Jenkins, and offensive linemen Brandon Thomas and Ryan Norton were all banged up. The Clemson defense continues to give up the big play, but gave up just the one touchdown.
What the Tigers need to do to win: The Clemson defense needs to eliminate the big play and limit the underneath passes to Wake Forest wide receiver Michael Campanaro. On offense, the Tigers simply need to keep its foot on the gas and keep doing the little things right like they did in the first half.
Nikki Steele can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org