Clemson Defense Steps Up Against Duke


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TheTiger defense had three sacks and also added six tackles for loss.
TheTiger defense had three sacks and also added six tackles for loss.

CLEMSON – One week after their worst defensive performance of the season, the Clemson Tiger defense stepped up and turned in one of their best games in Clemson’s 31-7 victory over the Duke Blue Devils on Saturday.

The Tiger defense held Duke to just 168 total yards on 56 plays, including just 85 through the air, and limiting Duke to just 10 first downs. The Tigers also forced two interceptions and caused Duke to punt 10 times in the contest to go along with a couple of linebacker sacks, and defensive coordinator Vic Koenning said that there was a special feel to the day after the Tiger Walk.

“That Tiger Walk, if you can’t get geeked up to play after that, then you don’t have anything inside you,” Koenning said. “Our fans are showing our kids why this is such a special place to play. It is a lot easier to get internally geeked to play in front of a crowd like there was today.

“Without watching the tape, it seemed like we had more guys doing what they were supposed to do. We watched Duke go up and down the field on a lot of people, and there was a concern there, but the seniors did a good job in the locker room of keeping the focus.”

Safety Michael Hamlin, who had one of the interceptions, said it was good to finally put the debacle at Florida State behind them.

“We are back at the point where we believe in ourselves, and we’re not letting anything bother us,” Hamlin said.. “The coach challenged us to play a complete game, and it finally came. This will boost everybody’s confidence and everybody’s energy. The defensive pressure was a big key for us.”

The defensive line and linebackers were able to put consistent pressure on the Duke quarterbacks, and it was a first quarter hit that knocked Duke starter Thaddeus Lewis, the ACC’s passing leader, out of the game for good.

“It was a team thing,” defensive tackle Rashaad Jackson said. “Everybody put in the effort, and did their jobs, and took care of business. It felt great to be in front of the fans at homecoming, we played well and enjoyed ourselves, and gave our fans a show.”

Overall, the Tigers had three sacks, but also added six tackles for loss, and freshman defensive end DaQuan Bowers even batted down two passes at the line of scrimmage. Freshman linebacker Brandon Maye, whose first quarter sack helped thwart the Blue Devils’ first offensive series, led all Clemson tacklers with eight tackles.

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