Clemson defense has fun night with sack party


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Austin Bryant takes down Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham
Austin Bryant takes down Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham

CLEMSON – Christian Wilkins danced. Dexter Lawrence bounced and waved his arms, Austin Bryant chased down the quarterback and Brent Venables eventually cracked a smile.

Saturday night was fun for everybody involved with the Clemson defense.

Auburn had 74 yards on 24 total plays in the first quarter but managed just 43 yards on 42 plays over the final three quarters. Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham was 13-24 for 79 yards, and because of the sacks was credited 18 carries for negative 42 yards. Auburn hasn't given up more than 19 sacks in a season since Gus Malzahn took over as head coach in 2013, but gave up the big 11 to Clemson in one game.

Clemson’s locker room was a happy place in the aftermath.

“It erupted when everyone got in there. The music started playing and we started dancing. Everybody was smiling and laughing and enjoying the win,” Lawrence said after the game. “We were just playing and having fun. Coach (Dabo) Swinney said after the game we had 11 sacks and I didn't think it was that much. That just comes from preparation and playing football. He kept scrambling out and we kept making the tackle.”

Lawrence said he had fun all night long.

“It's great. We celebrate everything. It's crazy out there,” he said. “We're all out there hyping each other up and just pushing each other. We know that if we're not getting it that one of the others is. It's just great to know that those guys around me are just going and going and going and won't quit.

“This one was pretty fun. I enjoyed it. We got a lot of snaps and we just kept getting after the quarterback. It was fun. That's what all d-linemen want to do is get after the quarterback.”

Co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott admitted the offense played it conservative with the defense playing so well but said he enjoyed watching the defense dominate.

“Unbelievable. We have to go against them every day. We are not surprised,” Scott said. “They had 11 sacks, and that's absolutely incredible. We put our defense in some bad situations, especially early on in the first half and the defense bailed us out. We will return the favor later in the year, but kudos to Coach Venables, the defensive staff and all the guys on the defense.”

Wilkins said the best part of the night was sharing the win with his buddies.

“It's a lot of fun. Those are my best friends on the team. Those are my guys,” Wilkins said. “I came in with Austin and Cle and we were like that right off the bat, so it's good to see us having some success. Everybody knows me and Dex have a great relationship. It's fun to see you and all of your brothers out there having success. It's just good to see that because we're all putting in the work and working hard in the offseason and challenging each other. It's great. We're always challenging each other like, 'It's our time. The Class of 2015.' We really challenge each other out there on the field like, 'Ok, you made a play, now it's my time.' It works for us.”

Was it the most fun he’s had playing football?

“I would say so. It was pretty fun. Eleven sacks, you don't do that often,” Wilkins said. “Double digit sacks? You rarely get five or six in a game, so to be able to do that as a defense was pretty impressive. Next week is a new challenge, so we've got to really enjoy this one tonight and get ready to go tomorrow.”

Clelin Ferrell called it old school football.

“I love games like this. It goes back to old school football,” Ferrell said. “Not a lot of points get put up. Two very good defenses.”

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