Notes, Quotes from Clemson's win over Georgia Southern
|Saturday, September 15, 2018, 5:10 PM-|
CLEMSON HEAD COACH Dabo Swinney
On the game:
“With the first quarter of the season coming to an end, we couldn’t be any better than 3-0. We’re where we hoped to be, but we’ve still got a lot of improving to do as a football team. I like how we finished today, but I didn’t like how we started. I’m disappointed in the three turnovers. We also had some missed opportunities that we’ve got to take advantage of. There were lots of good things in today’s game, too. We had nearly 600 yards of offense and limited Georgia Southern to 140 yards of offense. We never let the scoreboard dictate our energy.”
On the performance of the Clemson offense:
“There were lots of positives, offensively. Eighteen different guys touched ball for us. Travis Etienne played well; he had a career-high 162 rushing yards. All of our running backs did good things. We ran the ball like we needed to. After Kelly Bryant went out with a chest bruise, Trevor Lawrence did a lot of good things, too. He made some big throws, but he missed some throws, too, [ones] that he probably wishes he could have back. Also, Justyn Ross showed everyone that he’s a really special player by getting 103 receiving yards. Again, overall, there were lots of positives on offense.”
On the defensive and special teams performances:
“Defensively, we played four quarters. I’m proud of our guys on defense. They were where they were supposed to be on most every play. They dominated up front. Austin Bryant and Clelin Ferrell both got a couple of sacks. Nyles Pinckney had a big fumble recovery...the sideline would’ve come unglued had he run it all the way back. We’ve now forced a turnover 11 games in a row. Special teams played its worst game. We had two holding calls on punt returns. I love the effort, and guys are fighting. But we’ve got to clean up our technique a little bit. We were just able to overcome some mistakes because of our talent.”
On his outlook moving forward:
“We’ve gotten some good, quality experience under our belts in this first quarter of season, which bodes well for us entering conference play. We’re going to Atlanta next week, so we have a huge challenge ahead of us. There have been lots of positive takeaways from the first three games, though. We’ve already got nine plays of 40 or more yards this season. Our next goal is to win the division.”
On the impact of the fans:
“I told our players to be sure to thank our fans. It’s been a chaotic week due to the weather. I didn’t know what type of crowd we’d have today, but they were awesome. Death Valley was practically full. We appreciate the fans that we have and the type of environment that we get to play in. Hopefully, we were able to give people some pause from what they might be dealing with to enjoy some football this afternoon.”
CLEMSON CO-OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR Tony Elliott
On the offense’s performance:
“We wanted to come out and run the football and establish the run. Overall, [I] just loved the effort. I thought we were ready to play [but] we just have to be more consistent. We had a couple drives where we shot ourselves in the foot with penalties and weren’t able to capitalize.”
On what changed in Clemson’s fourth drive of the game:
“If you look at [the drive], we were moving the ball. On the first three drives, it was self-inflicted. We had a penalty, got down in the red zone [and] had a penalty, then we had a turnover. So, we just had some things that cost us, but the guys [eventually] locked in. They continued to play, continued to work through the issues, and they started having success.”
On the game plan for the running backs:
“We wanted to make sure when we came out into this game that we were going to [make] an emphasis to establish the run. So, we knew it wasn’t just going to be Travis [Etienne] but all of the guys touching the ball. We wanted to see a consistent group. We wanted to see guys run with desperation, run hard… and go get ahead of the chains.”
CLEMSON DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR Brent Venables
On the play of the defense:
“I thought our guys were very detailed today. [They] played with a lot of energy [and] were very physical. We were able to get five sacks, which gives us options. They’re doing pretty good, and that comes from their preparation. I just loved the attitude the whole time. We played a bunch of guys, and everybody got in there and did well. Regardless of who you’re playing, it still comes down to details in alignments and eyes and footwork. Again, it just requires you to be very precise. You have to do a lot of little things because they’ve got angles and leverage on you. I thought our guys did a great job of really understanding how we felt they were going to attack us. We’re real pleased with the effort, and again, our attitude. You wouldn’t have known the difference if we were playing the Denver Broncos or Mary Poppins. That’s what it’s about. When you’re playing to a standard, and you’ve got the right guys in your huddle, that’s what it should be about.”
On the lateral pass by Georgia Southern:
“Yeah, the double pass was a well-designed play, so they got us on that one.”
On improvement of defense’s discipline:
“We just have to take it one week at a time. You try to correct the mistakes from a week ago, and it’s a process. We’ve got three new guys in the back end, and backups that haven’t played much. We’ve just got to keep coaching, put them in a good position and do a good job with correcting the mistakes and explaining how we think they’re going to try to attack us. We’ve got good enough players. We’ve just got to improve on a lot of little details and techniques and discipline and understanding and schemes, all of it.”
On keeping the intensity for four quarters:
“A week ago, the intensity was not a problem. Intensity with details is a big part of it, and that leads to great execution. We played with great effort for three games. I’m very pleased with the intensity and the passion that our guys are playing with. You just have to play smart, and we have to coach them better. Our effort’s been there.”
On Nyles Pinckney recovered fumble:
“He’s a guy that’s been really on the come-up, has really made a ton of improvement since he’s been here and has worked incredibly hard for his opportunities. I feel like he’s going to be a really good player, and he’s capable of getting out there and playing real quality football. That was a really big play in the game, and that’s 11 straight games that we’ve forced a turnover...that’s a big deal. Part of playing good defense is ball disruption and getting the ball back for our offense.”
CLEMSON QB TREVOR LAWRENCE
On team’s offensive performance:
“We ended up finishing well. We stalled on a few drives but, for the most part, we moved the ball well. We are trying to get better in all areas. We are focusing on more specific plays and are trying to be more consistent.”
On skilled receiving core:
“It’s nice to have good wide receivers. I know that if I don’t throw a perfect pass, and it’s a little bit off, they’ll still catch it. We have really great receivers making plays for us. Everyone on the field is a great player, and I can go anywhere with the ball at anytime.”
On personal growth through first three games:
“I feel like I have matured a bit, as far as handling situations goes. Individually, I feel more confident now that I’ve played a home and an away game.”
On performance of Travis Etienne:
“He played really well. He ran hard and ran tough. He was very explosive, so that was awesome.”
CLEMSON RB TRAVIS ETIENNE
On his career-best game:
“I feel like, as a running back, the results were a reflection of my [offensive] line. The line did a great job, and the receivers really did a great job of blocking. That really helps the back, and we really need that to be successful.”
On splitting time with other RBs:
“I feel like we all complement each other. We can do different things with the ball and, when we rotate, we are all fresh and play our best.”
On his offensive production:
“Yardage-wise, this was one of [my] best games, but I still think about the things I didn’t do. Technique-wise, it might not have been my best game, but when it comes to yards, it was.”
CLEMSON DE AUSTIN BRYANT
On the game:
“We know what we’re capable of, but we just had to go out there and do it for four quarters. We played well last week; in the first half, we were lights out. We kind of fell asleep in the second half. Today, we just wanted to prove that we could play a full game and be dominant for four quarters.”
On facing Georgia Southern’s offense:
“It’s always tough getting ready for a new opponent, especially the offense that Georgia Southern runs. That option offense isn’t easy to defend. Every option team doesn’t look the same. Furman’s [offense] is different from Georgia Southern’s [offense]. It’s a challenge each week to play those option teams, but we were locked in in our preparation this week, and I think it shows.”
On whether the time change was a distraction:
“Not really. We could have played on Thursday at four in the morning. It [doesn’t] matter.”
CLEMSON DE CLELIN FERRELL
On team’s defensive performance:
“We had a successful game against the triple option. Obviously, that’s the second time that we’ve played against something like that. It is going to give us great momentum going in against Georgia Tech.”
On building the team’s confidence:
“Your confidence can only go up when you play well. I guess it helped us as a defense that we feel like we played well. As a team, I feel like we’ve definitely gotten better, but we still have a long way to go. It was good to go out there and see a lot of great improvements against a team like this.
“We’re through the first quarter of the season. Now we are starting ACC play, which is going to be huge. We are on to our next goal, which is to win the division so we are hoping to get started on that coming up.”
GEORGIA SOUTHERN HEAD COACH CHAD LUNSFORD
On the game as a whole:
“To have [had] a chance in this game, we [had] to make sure we got in a rhythm on offense. When we finished the first half, I think we had 18 plays on offense and we had 50 plays on defense. There’s no chance [to win], when you’re playing the No. 2 ranked team in the country, if you’re going to do that. So, we’ve got to make sure that we get in some type of rhythm...that we’re going back and forth. I think the defense played really well in the first quarter to give us a chance to hang around and play, but we just [have to] get more on offense at the start of the football game.”
On play of CJ Wright:
“We’ve been working CJ Wright. This has really been the first opportunity to get him in [the game], and he did a really good job. I know he put a fumble on the ground later in the game [but] a lot of that has got to do with [the fact that] he played a lot of defense today, and he probably got tired. We [have] to continue to work with him on ball security because he can be a weapon for us.”
On Clemson’s defense:
“I think Clemson’s defense is really good. I think that front four is maybe one of the best in the country, and they did a really good job today. Our guys tried to fight them, tried to get after them, but those guys, they got us.”
Clemson amassed 595 total yards, including 286 passing and 309 rushing. It marked the second time this season that Clemson has reached 200 passing yards and 200 rushing yards in the same game and the 36th time the program has done so under Head Coach Dabo Swinney. Clemson is undefeated (36-0) in those contests.
Running back Travis Etienne totalled a career-high 162 yards on 16 carries. The 100-yard rushing game was the second of Etienne’s career and his first since Sept. 23, 2017 vs. Boston College (113). His 162 yards are the most by a Clemson running back since Wayne Gallman ran for 187 yards against North Carolina (12/5/15).
On a 40-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter, Etienne eclipsed the 1,000 career rushing yards mark.
With Etienne’s performance and the Tiger win, Clemson has now posted a 33-2 record when producing a 100-yard rusher since 2011.
Clemson rushed for 309 yards and is now 47-1 when rushing for at least 200 yards under Swinney. The 309-yard game is the most rushing yards by a Clemson team since Sept. 23, 2017 when the Tigers rushed for 342 yards.
With 100-yard performances from both Justyn Ross (receiving) and Travis Etienne (rushing), today’s game against Georgia Southern marks the first time a Clemson team has had two players eclipse the 100-yard passing/rushing plateau since Nov. 26, 2016 (Wayne Gallman - 112 yards rushing; Mike Williams - 100 yards receiving)
On his second completion of the day — a five-yard completion to Tee Higgins — quarterback Kelly Bryant recorded his 300th career pass completion, becoming only the 10th player in school history to complete 300 career passes (Tajh Boyd, Charlie Whitehurst, Deshaun Watson, Cullen Harper, Woodrow Dantzler, Nealon Greene, Kyle Parker, Rodney Williams and Tommy Kendrick).
With his sixth completion of the day, an 11-yard pass to Trevion Thompson, Bryant passed Tommy Kendrick (303 from 1969-71) for the ninth-most career completions in Clemson history.
Etienne opened the scoring on a one-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. Etienne has now scored a rushing touchdown in three straight games for the fourth time in his career and scored a rushing touchdown in 13 of his 16 career games.
This marks the second consecutive year that a member of the Tigers has opened a season with a rushing touchdown in each of the first three games of the season. Kelly Bryant accomplished the feat in the first three games of 2017.
Etienne’s second-quarter touchdown was the culmination of a 13-play, 93-yard drive. It was Clemson’s third scoring drive of 90 yards or more already this season. Clemson had four scoring drives of 90 or more yards in 14 games in 2017.
Running back Tavien Feaster scored his first rushing touchdown of the season on a one-yard run in the second quarter. The rushing touchdown was the 10th of his career, giving Clemson three active players with at least 10 career rushing touchdowns (Feaster, Etienne, Bryant).
Wide receiver Justyn Ross scored the second receiving touchdown of his career on a 57-yard pass from quarterback Trevor Lawrence.
Including a 64-yard touchdown pass to Tee Higgins last week, Lawrence has now thrown touchdown passes of 50 yards or more in back-to-back games. It is the first time a Clemson quarterback has done so since Kelly Bryant threw touchdown passes of 53 and 61 yards in back-to-back games against The Citadel and South Carolina, respectively in 2017.
Ross finished the contest with a career-high 103 receiving yards on three receptions.
With a catch on the game’s second play from scrimmage, wide receiver Hunter Renfrow extended his streak of consecutive games played with a reception to 31.
During his sixth snap of the game, tackle Mitch Hyatt became only the fifth player in Clemson history to play 3,000 career snaps from scrimmage (Dalton Freeman, Landon Walker, Kyle Young and Glenn Rountree).
Hyatt made his 45th career start, tying OG Jeb Flesch (45 from 1988-91) for the 10th-most career starts at any position in Clemson history.
Clemson recorded five sacks and has now posted at least three sacks in three straight games for the first time since the Tigers recorded a combined 13 sacks across the Wake Forest (three), Syracuse (six) and Georgia Tech (four) games in 2017.
Defensive end Austin Bryant recorded his first sack of the season to force a three-and-out in the first quarter. He added another in the fourth quarter to record his second career game with 2.0 or more sacks, joining a 4.0-sack performance against Auburn in 2017.
Defensive end Xavier Thomas recorded his first career sack in the second quarter.
Defensive end Clelin Ferrell recorded 2.0 sacks to push his season total to 5.0 and his career total to 20.5. He entered the week ranked third in career sacks among active FBS players.
Ferrell has now recorded 2.0 sacks in back-to-back games, becoming the first Clemson player to have two or more sacks in consecutive games since Vic Beasley against Florida State and North Carolina in 2014.
Ferrell became the first Clemson player to record a sack in each of the first three games of a season since Vic Beasley in 2014.
In the fourth quarter, defensive lineman Nyles Pinckney forced and recovered a fumble, both career firsts.
Clemson has now forced a takeaway in 11 consecutive contests, the program's longest streak since a 15-game stretch across the 2012-13 seasons.
Linebacker Tre Lamar matched a career high with 11 total tackles.
On a 37-yard field goal in the third quarter, kicker Greg Huegel passed Obed Ariri (288) for seventh-most career points in school history.
The Tigers recorded 383 total yards on offense in the first half, the most by a Clemson team since Nov. 5, 2016 when the Tigers hung 396 yards on Syracuse in the first half of that game.
Clemson led at halftime, 21-0. Dating back to last season, Clemson has shut out its opponents in the first half of six of its last eight games (21-0 vs. Georgia Southern, 27-0 vs. Furman, 21-0 vs. Miami, 20-0 vs. South Carolina, 38-0 vs. The Citadel, 17-0 vs. Florida State).
Clemson has now won 55 of its last 57 games when leading at halftime.
Clemson has not allowed a first-half touchdown at Memorial Stadium since Nov. 12, 2016 against Pittsburgh, a streak of 10 consecutive home games without allowing a touchdown in the first two quarters.
Clemson held Georgia Southern without a touchdown in the first half and has held opponents without a first-half touchdown seven times in the last eight games.
The game was the first all-time meeting between Clemson and Georgia Southern. It marked the second straight season in which Clemson had faced an opponent for the first time in history, as the Tigers earned a 56-3 win in their first ever meeting with Kent State in 2017.
The Tigers committed their first turnover of the season on an interception on the eighth play of the game. Clemson opened the season with 136 plays without a turnover.
WITH THE WIN
Clemson has now won 46 of its last 50 games, dating to 2014.
Clemson has now opened 3-0 for four straight years and for the seventh time in the last eight years.
Clemson extended its winning streak in non-conference regular season play to 18 games. Dating back to 2014, Clemson’s current 17-game winning streak in regular season non-conference games entering the game was already the longest such streak in program history.
Clemson won its 10th consecutive game at Memorial Stadium, dating back to a 56-7 win against South Carolina on Nov. 25, 2016. The team’s current home winning streak is Clemson's third double-digit home winning streak in Dabo Swinney’s tenure as head coach (21 from 2013-16, 13 from 2011-12). Clemson has won 31 of its last 32 at home.
Clemson extended its winning streak in Saturday games to 19, the longest of any Power Five school in the country. It is the second-longest Saturday winning streak in school history, trailing a 21-game Saturday streak across the 2014-16 campaigns.
Clemson won its 16th consecutive game in the month of September, dating back to 2014.
Dabo Swinney pushed his all-time record in non-conference play as a head coach to 39-13, including a 32-8 record against non-conference opponents in regular season play.
Swinney improved to 9-6 as a head coach all-time in games against schools from the state of Georgia. He entered the game with a 6-5 mark against Georgia Tech, a 1-1 record against Georgia and a 1-0 mark against Georgia State.
Clemson led 24-0 after three quarters and is now 76-2 since 2011 when leading after three quarters.
Clemson recorded a 27-3 advantage in total first downs, and is now 76-2 record when recording more first downs than its opponent since 2011.
Clemson has now won 58 straight games when holding teams under 23 points (dating back to 2010).