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Paws Up, Paws Down: Clemson Overcomes Slow, Sloppy Start to Take Down Duke 35-6

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It was Military Appreciation Day, and the Tigers were sporting all purple for Saturday nights ACC finale vs the Blue Devils in Death Valley

Derion Kendrick leaps over a Duke defender Saturday night in Clemson
Richard Shiro- AP Photo

Before we get into the good, bad, and ugly from Saturday night's 35-6 victory over Duke, I wanted to give a huge, heartfelt thank you to a friend of mine named Mark Haselden. Mark passed away this week after a long, tough battle with cancer.

Mark has been doing sports for the local paper here in Florence, The Morning News, for as long as I can remember, and he was a fantastic writer, very talented.

If not for him, it's unlikely you’d be reading this right now, because I would have never written it. It was him who first told me writing was something I should try, and that he thought it was something I seemed to have a knack for. I will always be grateful to him for that, along with so many other things.

The world lost a good one this week, and it was a better place with him in it. Rest in peace old friend, you are going to be missed.

Now that I'm done with the sappy stuff, let's get to the Tigers. Maybe it was just me, but it sure looked like this team was going through the motions at times during the first half, particularly on offense. Drops, errant throws, no semblance of a running game, blown assignments on the back end. You name it and we likely saw it. All that, yet still get the win 35-6.

Is it possible this team might have been looking a little ahead to next weeks rivalry game with the Gamecocks? Could they have maybe overlooked Duke just a little? We are talking about 18-22 year old kids, and at times it has to get hard keeping them 100% focused on the task at hand. There's a reason why so few teams get through the regular season unbeaten. It's not easy. Yet, here we are, one week left in the regular season, and the Tigers sit at 11-0. One of only three unbeaten P5 teams, and ranked #2 in the CFP rankings.

Running Game

10 carries 17 yards in that first half. Duke came into this game with a run defense worse than every team in the ACC not named Louisville. Clemson ran 38 offensive plays in that first half and only ran the ball 10 times. Etienne had 5 carries and 4 yards in the half. Against this run defense? This stable of backs and we are throwing it on 3rd and short. They came out and ran the ball better in the second half, but still..... Paws Down

Defense

I know it is probably starting to sound a little redundant, but another dominant effort from the defense. Duke finished with just 262 yards of offense. Daniel Jones only had 158 yards passing, and the deeper we got into the game the more he was getting harassed. He was sacked 4 times, 2 coming from Clelin Ferrell, and the Tiger D finished with 9 TFL’s. This defensive line is just so dominant. Soak it in, there are only a few opportunities left to see those guys do work ..... Paws Up

Drops

What was going on with the wide receivers in this one? Maybe they were giving us their best impersonation of the South Carolina receivers. If not, this group had an off night. If I recall correctly, every receiver but Tee Higgins had a drop. Even Mr Reliable himself, Hunter Renfrow had a drop. Derion Kendrick dropped a perfectly thrown long ball from Trevor Lawrence that hit him in the numbers, in stride, for what should have been an easy TD. Amari Rodgers, Diondre Overton, Braden Galloway, and Justyn Ross all had at least one drop. Thankfully these guys are to good for this to have been anything other than an anomaly..... Paws Down

Punting

I have been a little hard on Will Spiers so I feel it is only right to make mention of the fact the he looked better last night. Mostly, anyways as I do recall at least one that was not very good. Overall though Spiers averaged over 44 yards a punt, a good number for him compared to what we have seen much of the season. Oh, and maybe there is another option on the roster after all. Carson King came in and boomed one for 48 yards late in the 4th quarter..... Paws Crossed

Third Downs

Not a great night from a 3rd down perspective for the Tigers. The offense converted only 4-14, and the defense had issues at times getting some 3rd down stops as the Blue Devils converted 6-19 for a 32% conversion rate, which is more than this defense typically allows. Throw in not wanting to run on some 3rd and short situations..... Paws Down

Military Appreciation

Clemson handles this day so well. It is a top notch affair year in and year out and no one does it better..... Paws Up

The Oculus

What a glorious and long overdue addition. Could the Paw Signal be on deck..... Paws Up

Purple Uniforms

I have not watched the television broadcast yet, as it was well after 2am when I finally got back home last night, but I saw a lot of discussion about how the uniforms kind of came off as blue on tv. One guy even remarked it looked like Florida and Kentucky were playing instead of Duke and Clemson. In person, they were indeed purple, and looked sharp, as long as its just an annual thing anyways..... Paws Up

Uniform concepts have become a popular topic of discussion amongst Tiger fans in recent years. On one side you have the ones pining for “something different” and on the other side you have the traditionalists who maintain the status quo is the only way to go, with many sitting through the Purple Out games with jaws clenched.

Personally, I think the Clemson uniforms are one of, if not the best in the nation. It is hard to get better than perfection and you never try and fix what isn’t broken. To me, donning the purple once a year on Military Day is a great way to go. I am just glad last nights game wasn’t the one that would have clinched the division. No one ever needs to sit through a game with the purple top, orange bottoms combo again.

There weren’t a whole lot of games worthy of discussion yesterday, as most SEC teams had their annual cupcake weeks that we have become so accustomed to seeing leading into Rivalry Week. I think we can find a few to performances worthy of mocking though.

Ohio St

Watching Urban Meyer’s Buckeye defense is pretty offensive these days. Maryland racked up 535 yards of offense against them yesterday, getting 339 of those yards on the ground, hanging over half a hundred on them in the process. Like a knife through hot butter..... Paws Down

SEC

Come on. Enough of these powder puff games the week before your rivalry games..... Paws Down

The Clemson Effect

Folks, The Clemson Effect is indeed a real thing. Going up against this Tiger team gets you beat twice. Syracuse, Wake Forest, NCST, FSU, Louisville, and now BC have all lost the week following their loss to Clemson. Texas A&M and Georgia Tech are the only P5 teams to not fall victim to this and both played non P5 teams the week after losing to the Tigers. So, for The Clemson Effect..... Paws Up