Instant Halftime Analysis: UNC gets early momentum
Etienne looks for running room in the first half (Photo by Neil Redmond, USAT)

Instant Halftime Analysis: UNC gets early momentum

by - Staff Writer -

CHAPEL HILL, NC – North Carolina brought its A-game while Clemson brought its C-game in the first half of Saturday’s game.

After a slow start for both Clemson’s offense and defense, the Tigers and Tar Heels were tied at 14-14 at halftime.

Clemson offense had 221 total yards – 126 through the air and 95 on the ground. North Carolina had 155 yards of total offense – 99 yards passing and 71 yards rushing.

PLAYER OF THE HALF: Will Spiers punted twice for a 44-yard average, including a 47-yard punt late in the second quarter. The 47-yard punt flipped the field, giving Clemson’s defense room to work.

STAT OF THE HALF: Clemson gave up 14 points in the first half. The Tigers haven’t given up more than 14 points in a game this season.


*Tee Higgins was targeted four times in the first half and caught all three passes for 60 yards, including a 28-yard reception. He caught a 17-yard pass on third-and-nine late in the first half that set Clemson up Clemson’s second touchdown of the day.

*Trevor Lawrence completed 10-of-13 passes for 126 yards. He also carried the ball eight times for 29 yards.


*Turnovers – Clemson running back Travis Etienne has had problems holding onto the ball at times this season and for the first time it cost the Tigers as North Carolina turned it into seven points.

*Offensive consistency – Of Clemson’s five drives, three of them went for three yards or less. Clemson needs to string together some longer drives to get into a rhythm and give the defense a break.

*Big-play defense – Uncharacteristically, Clemson’s defense gave up three plays of 25 yards or more in the first half.

TURNING POINT OF THE HALF: Clemson started off slowly on offense but finally seemed to have gained a little momentum after going on a four-plus minute drive to tie the game at 7-7 in the second quarter. Clemson’s defense forced a three and out to give Clemson the ball back and after Travis Etienne picked up the first down, he lost the ball giving North Carolina the ball on the 42.

Michael Carter broke free for a 31-yard run and three plays later, North Carolina quarterback Sam Howell found Beau Corrales for a touchdown giving North Carolina a 14-7 lead with 7:55 to play before halftime.


Offensively, Clemson needs to limit the turnovers because that was really the difference in the first half. Tee Higgins needs to continue to be a big target of Lawrence and the Tigers need to utilize the middle of the field to soften up the Tar Heel defense and open the run game.

Defensively, the Tigers have to eliminate the big play that hurt them in the first half, both on the ground and through the air. There were a few times the Heels were able to leverage the outside run for big gains, and Terrell got beat on the early score. If they can tighten those up, things will get better.

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