It was a glorious day in Death Valley yesterday. No noon kick, great weather, and a great performance. Derion Kendrick returned the opening kickoff 40 yards, setting the tone for what was about to transpire. Trevor Lawrence led the Clemson offense on a 9 play 57 yd TD drive to open the game, and the Tigers never looked back, sending the Wolfpack back to Raleigh wondering where it all went wrong.
This was one of the most satisfying wins I have witnessed in recent years, and I can’t really point to one specific reason as to why. I drove up expecting Clemson to win rather handily, and they did, so it wasn’t because the result was surprising.
Maybe it’s because of the way the 2016 game played out - Wayne Gallman being knocked out early on a questionable hit, and some of Dave Doeren’s comments afterwards - and the accusations of cheating after last years win in Raleigh.
Maybe it is because my wife came up with me. Something that rarely happens anymore, and I could tell it was one of the few games she genuinely enjoyed, despite knowing very little about football, and caring about it even less.
Or maybe it was because after two years of giving those guys the impression that they were right on the cusp of being on Clemson’s level, the Tigers came out and put them back in their place, leaving no doubt about the hierarchy in the ACC.
Whatever it was, it was quite satisfying. The Tigers now control their destiny. If you plan to attend the ACC Championship, it would probably be advisable to go ahead and get those tickets. Now for Paws up and Paws down.
Lawrence had his best game of the season since being named the starting QB, The true freshman finished 26-39 for 308 yards, and a TD, and is getting better each and every week, Oh, and no turnovers. Just laser after laser, with complete precision, despite missing on a couple of deep balls early and an open out route to Hunter Renfrow. NC State took away the run, daring Lawrence to beat them, and that is exactly what he did..... Paws Up
This was an area of concern heading into the bye week. Pass protection, particularly on the right side, had been shaky at times. I have not gone back and watched the television broadcast yet, but watching it live, I thought the protection was much better, despite the two sacks. On at least one of those Lawrence probably should have just thrown it away. I thought the protection from the big guys up front was the best it has been so far this season..... Paws Up
Another downright dominant performance from this group. They held Finley and that offense in check all day. The front four was once again disruptive from start to finish. Dexter Lawrence and Christian Wilkins are having their way with opponents on the interior and it was more of the same in this one. They only got to Finley once, but it was on their second offensive play, and I thought it set the tone defensively early, and they never let up as Finley threw for less than 200 yards and averaged 5.5 yards per attempt. The Pack had less than 300 yards total..... Paws Up
These guys have heard all the talk. They know they have been perceived as perhaps the weak link on this defense. Ever since the second half of the Texas A&M game, they have heard the chatter from people wondering if they could hold up against teams that can throw the ball well. That talk should quiet down for now. These guys came to play yesterday - all of them. Nolan Turner had a nice pass defended. Tanner Muse, Mark Fields, and A.J. Terrell also had passes defended while K’Von Wallance and linebacker Jalen Williams had interceptions..... Paws Up
It is really the only thing I could think of that I didn’t like. It isn’t that I am against trick plays, but I thought this one was ill-timed. It’s 4th-and-1, you have one of the best RBs in the nation, and 2 more that are perfectly capable of picking up a yard. This team is too talented and too good to need trickery to get a yard against NC State. Time and place..... Paws Down
Clemson Social Media
Week after week, these guys consistently prove they are as good a social media dept in the country as there is, and I would argue better than all the others. “We win, we dance.” Check out Dabo, he seems to have improved some of his moves..... Paws Up
Yesterday we got to witness one of the most vicious troll jobs I have ever seen by a coaching staff. Nice job..... Paws Way Up
And elsewhere across the country.....
Kentucky vs. Vandy
The Wildcats welcomed Vandy into Lexington for an SEC East showdown, and it surely didn’t disappoint. Those SEC Defenses were on full display in the 14-7 dogfight. Somehow Kentucky passed for 18 yards and still managed to win. Maybe it had a little to do with Vandy rushing for a whopping 68 yards as a team..... Paws Up
Oh how I love these annual implosions from the Buckeyes. After losing by 31 at Iowa last season, Ohio State managed another embarrassing blowout on the road, this time at Purdue. close losses either. Purdue almost hung half a hundred on them, beating them 49-20. Urban Meyer’s defense was exposed, as it looked to be about as strong as a wet paper bag. They can still make the playoff if they win out, which would give them wins over Penn State, Michigan State, Michigan, TCU, and Wisconsin/Iowa..... Paws Down
That is all I have this week. Feel free to leave your own “Paws Up, Paws Down” in the comments.