|by David Hood|
Clemson’s 56-7 victory over Wake Forest was what Clemson fans have been looking for since the season-opening win over Georgia, and Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said on Sunday evening’s media teleconference that it is was the Tigers’ most complete game he has seen in a while.
The biggest thing that I took from the game was that Clemson pretty much imposed its will on the Demon Deacons in a game that was over at the 7:32 mark of the first quarter when Clemson jumped out to the 21-0 lead. Sure, Wake came down and got a touchdown and the Clemson offense had a few 3-and-outs, but you never got the feeling that the Deacs were really any kind of threat.
Of course, one of the biggest reasons for the big win was quarterback Tajh Boyd, who at some point in the first quarter next Saturday will go over 10,000 yards in his Clemson career (he has 9,971). Boyd and offensive coordinator Chad Morris both said last week that Boyd appeared to be pressing and trying to live up to expectations. Morris’ solution? Just go out and have fun, and Boyd appeared to be having a lot of fun Saturday.
However, I got the sense that Boyd had put a lot of the pressures behind him when we went down to the Clemson locker room for postgame interviews. Boyd is usually funny and loose, but he seemed out of sorts after the Thursday night win over N.C. State.
Saturday, he tried to help one media member clean off a camera, and then waxed poetic about the music of Chad Morris’ offense – was it the Blues or Country and Western? He opted for the Blues. And then he talked about the trip to Syracuse and had a great quote, saying, “Hey, we asked for Solid Orange, right? We are going to get that Saturday.”
He was then asked about the play of wide receiver Daniel Rodriguez – the Tigers tried to get the Purple Heart recipient a touchdown in the second half, and Rodriguez was close without getting his first score. Tajh laughed and said that D-Rod “just didn’t want it bad enough, and I told him that.”
He then mentioned that someone needs to make D-Rod’s story into a movie, and he was asked who would play him in the movie. Boyd opted for Derek Luke, who came into national acclaim for his role in “Antwone Fisher.” That response drew a laugh from the assembled media, who also have fun with Boyd, who is just different from any other quarterback we’ve had at Clemson. Yep, it was good to have the old Tajh back Saturday in Death Valley.
*Brent Venables’ defense held Wake Forest to just 2-for-14 on third down, a week after holding N.C. State to 3-for-16 on third down. That’s a lot better than where this defense was at times last season, and you can just sense this group is getting better each week.
The Tigers woke up Sunday morning and found themselves 38th nationally in total defense (346.5 yards per game) and 25th nationally in scoring defense at 17.3 points per game. Incidentally, Clemson is one spot ahead of LSU in total defense.
Clemson is also ranked sixth nationally with 15 sacks, and Vic Beasley has six of those. He is tied for third in the country with those six sacks.
*Speaking of stats – Clemson is fourth nationally in turnover margin. The Tigers are plus-7 in turnover margin – they’ve lost two fumbles but have recovered four fumbles and intercepted five passes. Those are the kinds of numbers that win ballgames.
*I am actually looking forward to the trip to Syracuse this week. We had to buy a flight that gets us up there a little earlier than what is normal for a football road trip in order to save a little money, but we plan on putting the time to good use by heading over to Cooperstown on Friday to go to the Baseball Hall of Fame. It’s not often I can scratch an item off the baseball bucket list on a football trip, but I plan to do that this week. I will also let everybody know how the press box in the Carrier Dome compares to other press boxes around the ACC, and I will post pics at some point on Saturday from inside the complex. We also have a Q&A with a Syracuse guy we are going to run later this week, and he will have some pointers for Clemson fans who are looking for good places to eat and tailgate on the trip.
*Speaking of the Carrier Dome, Dabo Swinney mentioned Sunday evening that he expects the Dome to be a little warm next Saturday night. Yes, the Carrier Dome is named after an HVAC manufacturer but it has no air conditioning. The reason? The Dome is used primarily for Syracuse University events, and most of those events occur from September-May, when temperatures in that part of the world are typically not very high. However, I’ve heard that early-season football games in the Dome can be sweltering.
*In case you missed it, freshman receiver Mike Williams told us he called his touchdown reception against the Deacons, the first of his Clemson career.
Williams scored on a 14-yard scoring toss from quarterback Tajh Boyd with just 29 seconds left in the first half of Saturday’s contest, but noticed that the Demon Deacon defense was giving him plenty of room on the post route two plays before the score.
“Two plays before the touchdown, I was wide open and I told Tajh that I was wide open,” Williams said after the game. “Two plays later they came back with the same play and I got the touchdown. I was seeing the safety was coming down, and I told Tajh to watch the safety and he saw me. Me and Tajh are trying to get that bond that he has with Sammy. That first Clemson touchdown feels great.”
David Hood can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org