For three quarters, the Clemson offense struggled to move the ball against a Boston College defense that on paper looked bad. The main issue Clemson had was blocking BC’s stout defensive end Harold Landry who should be a high pick in the upcoming NFL Draft. Kelly Bryant also struggled with identifying zone vs man to man coverage and had to run for his life when BC brought pressure. Bryant also struggled passing the ball and threw two interceptions but made up for it by rushing for 106 yards and two touchdowns. Fortunately, the Tiger defense was exceptional once again and held BC’s offense in check. The Clemson running game was the strong point for the offense and helped wear down a tough Eagle defense. The Tigers piled up 342 yards rushing as a team, which ultimately dashed BC’s hopes of pulling off a major upset.
Offense: The Offensive Line
When a team rushes for over 300 yards and scores five rushing touchdowns, it almost always means that the run blocking was good to exceptional. Despite some iffy at best pass protection, the Clemson offensive line preformed well and opened up some holes for the running backs consistently. As the game progressed, the big guys up front overwhelmed BC’s defensive line with strength and will. Credit to Taylor Hearn for the heads-up play where he picked up a Kelly Bryant fumble and rumbled down the sidelines for a nice gain to pick up the first down. If Boston College recovered that fumble, who knows how differently the game would have played out. This group must get better at pass protection, but their effort in run blocking on Saturday shouldn’t go unnoticed.
Defense: Kendall Joseph and AJ Terrell
Once again, Clemson played extremely well on the defensive side of the ball. Holding a team to under 250 yards of total offense is impressive and has almost become a norm for this defense (do Louisville’s 4th quarter stats really count?). On Saturday, no one stood out statically more than Kendall Joseph, who had 12 total tackles. His development has been a catalyst for Clemson’s success on defense this year. Part of what makes him so good for Brent Venables is his reliability, which has paid off big time in his second year as a starter.
AJ Terrell hasn’t had nearly the amount of experience as someone like Kendall Joseph, but he is quickly making a name for himself. He’s played a lot as a true freshman this season due to multiple injuries in the secondary but has responded really well. His fourth quarter interception was the first of his college career and wrapped up a stellar defensive performance for the Tigers. Hopefully this will help boost his confidence as a young player; he will need to grow up quickly due to several Clemson DB’s being out due to injury. Look for AJ to be on the field a lot next week when the Tigers go on the road to take on a confident and well-coached Virginia Tech team.
Overall: Travis Etienne
What a dangerous weapon this guy has become! Every time he touches the ball, he’s a threat to bust a huge play. I will remind folks that even though he’s been incredible, most of his playing time has come against worn down defenses. However, you can’t deny what your eyeballs are seeing. His acceleration is off the charts and his speed is elite. Tavien Feaster is a very fast guy, but his acceleration doesn’t compare to ETN’s. He sheds tacklers with ease, but usually he doesn’t even get touched. Against BC, he led the Tigers in rushing yards with 113 yards on just 9 carries. His biggest play of the game came in the 4th quarter when he exploded through the line and let his momentum help him bounce off a would-be tackler. From there, he outran everyone else and dashed into the end zone. It’s clear Travis and Tavien have separated themselves from Choice and Fuller. A one-two punch of Feaster and Etienne should be lethal for Clemson in the next few games with Choice and Fuller backing them up and providing this offense with good depth at running back.
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