|Tuesday, September 19, 2017, 9:24 AM- -|
This was my second trip to Louisville, and I can't imagine it going any better. The experience and the game were as good as it gets.
The defense played a phenomenal game against Lamar Jackson and Bobby Petrino’s high-powered offense. Don't be fooled by the final stats. During the first three-quarters, Clemson jumped out to a 33-7 lead. Through three-quarters, the Heisman Trophy winner was just 12 of 26 passing for 118 yards with one touchdown and one interception. He also had 11 carries for 62 yards. Clemson completely dominated the line of scrimmage with the talent difference, but the scheme was just as impressive. Brent Venables dialed up another great game plan.
Clemson's defense tackled extremely well which is always a key when facing Lamar Jackson. I thought another key was the discipline of the defense. Finally, the secondary covered extremely well.
Jackson puts so much pressure on defenses, but on this night the Cardinals went just 5 of 16 on third downs. Louisville had the ball for 24 minutes. Clemson completely took away the running game by holding Louisville to 116 yards on the ground.
I thought going into the game Clemson could move the ball. However, no one could have imagined 613 yards of total offense. A key was the balance of the Tigers offensively. Clemson had 316 yards passing and 297 yards rushing.
Who would have believed that Kelly Bryant would have outplayed Jackson? Bryant in his first start on the road went 22 of 32 for 316 yards and a touchdown. He also ran for 26 yards and two more scores. Several things were impressive about Bryant’s game. He made six or seven throws that I was not sure he was capable of making. Two passes to Hunter Renfrow including a 40-yard completion early in the game, the 79-yard pass to Ray Ray McLeod, and the 33-yard completion to DeAndre Overton were great examples of Bryant’s improvement as a passer.
The offensive line played well and helped open up holes in the running game. However, I thought the biggest developments in the running game came from the backs. Tavien Feaster had his best outing with ten carries for 92 yards. We got our first look at Travis Etienne who exploded on an 81-yard touchdown run. Even Adam Choice galloped for a 39-yard touchdown.
Except for one missed field-goal and a blocked extra point, the special teams were very good. Will Spiers played a huge role in Clemson keeping Louisville in poor field position. The Tigers punter averaged 51.8 yards per punter.
Clemson proved it could handle a road game in a difficult environment and came out and sent messages early on each side of the ball. The Tigers also sent a message to the rest of the ACC and the nation. What was supposed to be the national game of the week turned into a blowout.
Perhaps the best news from the game is the potential this team has. I can see Kelly Bryant's confidence continue to grow. Clemson will benefit from Feaster and Etienne’s production in the running game. As good as this offense looked Saturday night, maybe the best is yet to come on that side of the ball this season. Defensively this has to be as good at all three levels as anybody has in the country. And the special teams look as solid as ever.
Yes, this was an epic win but most importantly it's another reason to get excited about this program and the future.
The Brad Hughes All-State Insurance Agency
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