Tiger Defense Comes Up Big in Second Half


by - Correspondent -
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Justin Miller grabs his third interception of the season.

CLEMSON - Despite trailing by just two points at halftime, Clemson's defense
was in trouble.


Wake Forest spent the first half of Saturday's game at Death Valley walking
all over John Lovett's unit, rolling up 295 total yards - including 189 yards
rushing - while holding onto the ball for all but just over eight minutes of
the half.


But despite the Demon Deacons eventually running their total yardage count up
to 523, Clemson came away with a 31-23 victory Saturday because of one key
advantage:


The Tigers won the turnover battle 5-0. All five WFU miscues came in the
second half.


"We went in the locker room and coach Lovett was like 'Keep plugging. Don't
let this one be like Virginia or the other games. We've got to win this one
on defense,'" said senior rover Altroy Bodrick. "We needed to get turnovers,
and we came out in the second half and did that."


Playing more aggressively and with a greater sense of purpose, the Tigers got
the turnovers on five of Wake Forest's final six possessions:


- True freshman Justin Miller, senior Brian Mance and Bodrick all had
interceptions. Bodrick's was the first of his career. Miller now has three
this season, Mance a team-high four;


- Travis Pugh recovered a Nick Burney fumble that set up Bernard Rambert's
third-quarter two-yard TD run that pulled Clemson within 23-21;


- Mance forced Chris Barclay's fumble by stripping him of the ball at the
five yard line. Had Barclay scored, the touchdown would have set up a
two-point conversion attempt to tie the game with 1:15 to go.


"The seniors got together and decided to win it," Bodrick said. "This is
Homecoming, it was our last time, and we knew we had to win it on defense.
That's been a goal for us all year, to win one on defense, and we finally did
it."


The did it against a Wake Forest offense designed to both run over and trick
opposing defenses.


The Demon Deacons under Jim Grobe have become one of the most physical teams
on Clemson's schedule, yet at the same time the multiple formations and
options shown by the offense can leave defenders hanging out to dry.


"They take their offense and they make you think a whole bunch," Bodrick
said. "Sometimes you're going to have a lot of one-on-one matchups, and if
you don't tackle the guy they're going to make a big play."

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