Stats & Storylines: Clemson offense leads the way in week two
|Monday, September 12, 2022, 7:00 AM- -|
In a reversal from game one versus Georgia Tech, Clemson got off to a blistering hot start scoring touchdowns on five of its first six drives against Furman on Saturday. They led 35-9 with 10 minutes remaining in the third quarter.
So while they stumbled a bit after that, the outcome was never in question. The Tigers cruised to a 35-12 win. The defense only surrendered 12 points but gave up 384 total yards and struggled to get the ball back to the offense.
They’ll get another tune up with Louisiana Tech (1-1) coming to town before the Tigers travel to Winston-Salem to take on a Wake Forest team that got QB Sam Hartman back earlier than expected after a scary blood clot situation. Taking a deeper look at Saturday:
DJ Uiagalelei: 21/27 (77.8%), 231 yards (8.6 Y/A), 2 TDs, 1 INT
Uiagalelei built on his week one performance by completing 77.8% of his passes for 231 yards – a yardage total he only topped once in 2021 (vs. UConn). He hit his receivers in stride, navigated the pocket well, and ran the ball effectively at opportune times.
Beaux Collins was once again his favorite target leading the Tigers with four receptions for 57 yards and a TD. DJ hit him perfectly in stride on a deep ball that went for 40 yards and connected with him on a fade route in the end zone. Tiger fans have to be encouraged with the progress they’ve seen at quarterback
Uiagalelei’s day could have been better, if not for a pair of drops by EJ Williams, one of which hit him square in the chest. Despite his early season struggles, Clemson's Dabo Swinney gave EJ a vote of confidence by saying “We’re going to need him and he’s going to make those plays.” Swinney also noted that he missed time with injury during fall camp and is still getting into form. If Clemson’s receivers can elevate their play, the passing offense could be potent.
Clemson Rushing: 147 yards on 28 carries (5.3 YPC)
While the passing game was crisp, the ground game ran into some trouble. The offensive line struggled to get a consistent push against the Paladin defense. While the rushing numbers aren’t awful, a lot of it was thanks to the running backs getting away from defenders at the line of scrimmage. Clemson’s O-line failed to open holes to give the running backs easy and consistent yards. It seems every August the coaching staff eagerly shares how the offensive line is making major strides in camp and then September rolls around and we don’t see the progress in actual games.
Moving two players (Will Putnam and Walker Parks) to new positions and starting a true freshman (Blake Miller) was never likely to go smoothly right from the start. Hopefully, they get more comfortable and improve as the season goes on.
Furman Third Down Efficiency: 10/18
Clemson could not get off the field on third down and lost the time of possession 34:45 to 25:15. Swinney noted his frustration saying “We did not play to anywhere we need to defensively… [I’m] just disappointed with how we handled the quarterback and a little loose in coverage.” Despite their struggles on third down, they still held Furman to 12 points. Even some of Clemson’s best defenses have been known to have one fluky bad game (Clemson’s 56-35 win over the Gamecocks in 2018 comes to mind). The Tigers will hope that's all this was. It is hard to worry too much about this defense.
Wild Weekend Around the Country
It was a wild weekend of college football. The day started with Alabama going to Texas. Texas QB Quinn Ewers looked great but left the game in the first half with an SC sprain (out 4-6 weeks). Despite that, the Longhorns outplayed the Crimson Tide for most of the game. They didn’t cash in on enough opportunities though, making an Alabama comeback feel almost inevitable. In the end, QB Bryce Young led Alabama on a touchdown drive and a field goal drive in the final five minutes to deliver a 20-19 win for the Crimson Tide. Georgia is deserving of the No. 1 ranking after Alabama’s sloppy performance.
No. 6 Texas A&M was held to just 14 points in a 17-14 home loss to Appalachian State. No. 8 Notre Dame lost 26-21 to Marshall at home, dropping them to 0-2. They have not won a game since Brian Kelly left for LSU. Clemson’s November road trip to South Bend is looking much more inviting.
Finally, Nebraska lost 45-42 to Georgia Southern in what was another putrid defensive performance from the Cornhuskers. Coach Scott Frost was their starting quarterback in 1996 and 1997. Having him lead them back to prominence would have been a nice story for college football, but things have come apart in Lincoln as they’ve already announced his dismissal. What a wild weekend it was.