Tigers open season with 35-10 win over North Texas

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Andre Ellington broke through the line of scrimmage on the second play of the game and raced almost untouched 60 yards into the end zone.
Andre Ellington broke through the line of scrimmage on the second play of the game and raced almost untouched 60 yards into the end zone.

CLEMSON –Flashes of brilliance punctuated by long periods of frustration.

That statement best sums up the Clemson Tigers’ 35-10, season-opening win over Sun Belt opponent North Texas at Death Valley Saturday afternoon, a game that saw glimpses of the talent on hand, but also awakened the echoes of last season’s end-of-season slide on defense.

Clemson rang up 423 yards of total offense, including 100 yards each by running backs Jamie Harper and Andre Ellington, but the defense gave up 462 yards as North Texas held the football for an astounding 41:52 of the sixty minute contest.

Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said to give credit to North Texas.

“North Texas played us tough throughout the game,” Swinney said. “They hung in there and gave us a challenge. We had a lot of unknowns about them coming into the game, but our veteran guys made a lot of adjustments. The best thing about the game is that it’s over. At the end of the day all that matters is the score and they had only 10 compared to our 35.”

Swinney said the difference in the time of possession – 41:52 to 18:08 – was due in part to Clemson’s quick scoring plays, but said that third down [North Texas converted 11-of-22] was also an issue.

“The 42 to 18 minute difference is very frustrating,” he said. “We had some explosive plays, which led to quick scores. We need to improve on third downs as a defense.”

The 2010 season got off to C.J. Spiller-like start, when Andre Ellington broke through the line of scrimmage on the second play of the game and raced almost untouched 60 yards into the end zone for a 7-0 Clemson lead just 16 seconds into the season.

Following that initial burst however, the Tigers went into an offensive malaise, gaining just 40 yards over the next 27 game minutes, while North Texas ran off double the number of offensive snaps, 32-16.

That all changed after a North Texas punt with just over three minutes remaining in half. The Tigers took over at their own 30-yard line, and when wide receiver Brandon Clear broke into the open down the right sideline, Parker hit him in stride for a 70-yard touchdown pass, the first of Clear’s career.

North Texas answered with a quick drive that culminated in a 13-yard touchdown pass from Nathan Tune to Darius Carey, cutting the Tiger lead in half at 14-7 with 1:13 remaining in the half.

Clemson didn’t take long in responding following the ensuing kickoff, with Parker hitting Dwayne Allen on a 24-yard pass on the first play. Harper rumbled 17 yards on the second play, and Harper caught an 8-yard dart from Parker on the third play, breaking two tackles near the goal line and scoring for a 21-7 Tiger lead.
“I didn’t even know I was the hot read on that play,” Harper said. “I kind of came off the line and got right up against the defender, and when I turned around, the ball was right there. And it was moving. I just wanted to make sure I caught it, but then my thought is that I had to get into the end zone. You always want to score, and that was just a case of wanting to score right there. And it was big for us, because that proved that we can score in the two-minute offense.”

Some of the numbers from the first half were puzzling, especially for a Clemson defense that had hoped to improve against the run.

North Texas running back Lance Dunbar had 15 carries for 96 yards in the half, part of a 45-play effort for the Mean Green that saw them outgain the Tigers 234-228. Time of possession was 22:52 for North Texas to 7:08 for Clemson, and the Tigers ran just 20 plays. North Texas was also 7-for-13 on third down conversions.

Defensive coordinator Kevin Steele said he was pleased with the adjustments his unit made at halftime, but said missed tackles were the main issue in the first half.

“They have some players that can play anywhere in the country,” Steel said. “That quarterback could play for just about anybody else that we play, and that running back can play for anybody. But we had a lot of missed tackles. The good thing is that that is correctable, and we will correct that this week.”

Clemson missed a golden chance to score midway through the third quarter, marching into the red zone, but Kyle Parker threw a pass that was intercepted in the end zone to stop the drive. The Tiger defense recorded its first three-and-out of the day on the ensuing drive.

Ellington rushed three times for 30 yards on Clemson’s next drive, capping it off with a strong 14-yard run that saw him push his way into the end zone for a 28-7 lead. The rush also put him over 100 yards on the day, the first 100-yard game of his career.

A North Texas field goal trimmed the Clemson advantage to 28-10 with 12:27 remaining, but Clemson responded with a seven-play, 51-yard drive that saw Harper going over 100-yard rushing mark with his three-yard touchdown run that gave Clemson a 35-10 lead with 9:05 remaining that accounted for the final score.

Swinney said that he would like to see both running backs continue to gain over 100 yards each.

”Both guys went over 100 yards, which was great,” Swinney said. “I wouldn’t trade those two for any other guys in the nation. If we can establish and keep a good running offense throughout the season, we can have an effective offense.”

Clemson quarterback Kyle Parker, who finished 9-for-17 for 170 yards, said the Tigers have to become more consistent on offense.

“We have a lot of talented players, the biggest thing is that we need to become more consistent,” Parker said. “Now that we’ve played the first game, we’re going to be able to go into the rest of the games really knowing what we have. There are a lot of things we can get better at, and we’re going to have to get better. Today was a day to build our confidence for the rest of the season.”

The Tigers return to action next week with a 3:30 p.m. home game against FCS foe Presbyterian.


*Dawson Zimmerman had a second quarter punt that traveled 79 yards, the second-longest punt in Clemson history. Mitch Tyner had an 81-yarder in 1973 against Texas A&M.

*Attendance was an announced crowd of 75,000.

*At the 12:27 mark of the fourth quarter, both teams had 375 yards of total offense. However, North Texas had run 64 plays and Clemson just 33. The time of possession at that point was 35:04 to 12:09.

*Jamie Harper and Andre Ellington both had over 100 yards rushing, the first time Clemson has had two runners over the century mark since the 2007 game at Maryland. In that game, James Davis had 129 yards and C.J. Spiller 106 yards.

*Both running backs went over 100 yards on the day on touchdown runs.

North Texas vs Clemson (Sep 04, 2010 at Clemson, SC)

Score by Quarters     1  2  3  4   Score
-----------------    -- -- -- --   -----
North Texas.........  0  7  0  3  - 10       Record: (0-1)
Clemson.............  7 14  7  7  - 35       Record: (1-0)

Scoring Summary:
1st 14:44 CU - Andre Ellington 60 yd run (Chandler Catanzaro kick), 2-60 0:16, NT 0 - CU 7
2nd 02:50 CU - Brandon Clear 70 yd pass from Kyle Parker (Chandler Catanzaro kick), 1-70 0:09, NT 0 - CU 14
    01:13 NT - Carey, Darius 13 yd pass from Tune, Nathan (Deans, Trent kick), 6-66 1:30, NT 7 - CU 14
    00:34 CU - Jamie Harper 8 yd pass from Kyle Parker (Chandler Catanzaro kick), 3-49 0:29, NT 7 - CU 21
3rd 02:31 CU - Andre Ellington 14 yd run (Chandler Catanzaro kick), 4-48 1:11, NT 7 - CU 28
4th 12:27 NT - Deans, Trent 25 yd field goal, 10-72 4:59, NT 10 - CU 28
    09:05 CU - Jamie Harper 3 yd run (Chandler Catanzaro kick), 7-51 3:13, NT 10 - CU 35

                                     NT       CU
FIRST DOWNS...................       25       15
RUSHES-YARDS (NET)............   49-193   25-246
PASSING YDS (NET).............      269      177
Passes Att-Comp-Int...........  34-22-2  21-10-1
TOTAL OFFENSE PLAYS-YARDS.....   83-462   46-423
Fumble Returns-Yards..........      0-0      0-0
Punt Returns-Yards............      2-3     2-41
Kickoff Returns-Yards.........    5-129     2-58
Interception Returns-Yards....      1-0      2-0
Punts (Number-Avg)............   7-42.0   6-51.3
Fumbles-Lost..................      4-0      0-0
Penalties-Yards...............     7-70     5-48
Possession Time...............    41:52    18:08
Third-Down Conversions........ 11 of 22   2 of 9
Fourth-Down Conversions.......   1 of 1   0 of 0
Red-Zone Scores-Chances.......      2-3      3-4
Sacks By: Number-Yards........      1-1     5-22

RUSHING: North Texas-Dunbar, Lance 23-116; Hamilton, James 6-52; Tune,
Nathan 15-13; Byrd, Brandin 2-7; Thompson, Derek 2-4; Dodge, Riley 1-1.
Clemson-Andre Ellington 12-122; Jamie Harper 9-102; Jaron Brown 1-18; Roderick
McDowell 2-5; Kyle Parker 1-minus 1.

PASSING: North Texas-Tune, Nathan 19-29-2-240; Thompson, Derek 3-3-0-29;
Stradford, T. 0-1-0-0; TEAM 0-1-0-0. Clemson-Kyle Parker 9-17-1-170; Tajh Boyd

RECEIVING: North Texas-Carey, Darius 4-73; Jackson, Jamaal 3-65; Lott,
Alex 3-31; Johnson, Breece 3-17; Hamilton, James 3-2; Dunbar, Lance 2-62; Bynes,
Chris 1-10; Jones, Benny 1-7; Taylor, Willie 1-6; Tune, Nathan 1-minus 4.
Clemson-Bryce McNeal 2-34; DeAndre Hopkins 2-23; Jaron Brown 2-14; Brandon Clear
1-70; Dwayne Allen 1-24; Jamie Harper 1-8; Andre Ellington 1-4.

INTERCEPTIONS: North Texas-Robertson, C. 1-0. Clemson-Byron Maxwell 1-0;
Coty Sensabaugh 1-0.

FUMBLES: North Texas-Tune, Nathan 2-0; Hill, Royce 1-0; Jackson, Jamaal
1-0. Clemson-None.

Stadium: Memorial Stadium      Attendance: 75000
Kickoff time: 3:35      End of Game: 6:54      Total elapsed time: 3:19
Officials: Referee: Tom Zimorski; Umpire: Mike Wooten; Linesman: Mike Pavese;
Line judge: Jack Weiland; Back judge: Dale Shaw; Field judge: Kip Johnson;
Side judge: Watts Key;
Temperature: 85 deg    Wind: Calm      Weather: Sunny skies

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