Last week Clemson took care of Georgia Tech pretty handily, but this week the Texas A&M Aggies came to town to provide the Tigers their first real test of the season. Last year the Aggies gave Clemson their closest game of the year and many expected today’s game to be just as competitive.
Clemson won the toss and chose to defer. B.T. Potter’s kickoff sailed through the end zone and A&M started at the 25. Aggie QB Kellin Mond decided to test Derion Kendrick on the 1st play but the pass was incomplete. The second down pass also fell incomplete although Tiger LB Isaiah Simmons was beaten when Mond couldn’t connect with his receiver. A false start pushed A&M into a 3rd and 15 and Mond couldn’t scramble to get the 1st down. After the punt, Clemson took over at the 27. Trevor Lawrence rolled left away from pressure and hit TE J.C. Chalk for 2 yards. On 2nd down, Travis Etienne picked up 3 yards. Lawrence hit Justyn Ross on 3rd down for a 1st down out to the 46. Etienne was stuffed on 1st down but Lawrence hit Ross for 24 yards to move the Tigers into Aggie territory. A short Etienne run and a well-covered hitch pass to Ross set up 3rd & 9. Lawrence looked for Ross in the corner of the end zone but couldn’t connect. B.T Potter attempted a FG but it sailed wide right.
A&M took over at the 30 and ran up the middle for 8 yards. Another run on 2nd down picked up enough to move the chains to the 42. A couple of uneventful plays set up 3rd & 7 and the Tigers push pressure on Mond and he couldn’t get a clean pass off. A&M punted and the Tigers took over at their 25. Etienne picked up a couple of yards on 1st down. Amaris Rodgers came in on second down but Lawrence was sacked. On 3rd down, Lawrence couldn’t hit Diondre Overton over the middle and Will Speres came in to punt, which was fair caught at the A&M 37.
A wide run on 1st down netted about 3 yards and Mond then hit a receiver to pick up the 1st down. The Tigers blitzed hard ad almost had a TFL but the A&M RB squirted by to pick up 2 yards. Mond then had another completion to pick up 6. On 3rd & 2, Tanner Muse stopped the A&M RB with a nice tackle to prevent the first down. A&M went for it on 4th and picked it up on an inside run. Mond took an option run for 6 yards down to the Tiger 35. A couple of runs netted another 1st down for the Aggies. The loss of the Power Rangers was starting to become clear. Two incompletions made it 3rd & 10 from the Tiger 30 but a snap infraction pushed them back to the 35. Nolan Turner missed a tackle at the line of scrimmage on a wide screen and the A&M receiver picked up the 1st down at the 15 as the quarter ended. On 3rd & 10, the Aggies tried a read option but the Clemson defense smothered it. A 32-yard FG put A&M up 3-0.
The Aggies kicked off and Joseph Ngata returned it to the Tiger 18. Lawrence hit Tee Higgins on a slant and he picked up 9 yards. Etienne pushed up the middle to get the 1st down. Ross had a step on the Aggie defender but Lawrence underthrew him and the Aggie defender broke it up. Etienne then took a screen pass for 28 yards with some nice running after the catch. A screen to Ross and a run by Etienne picked up another 1st down at the Aggie 29. Etienne took it up the middle for 5 yards but on 2nd down, an A&M defender came into the backfield unblocked and dropped Etienne for a 6-yard loss. On 3rd down, Lawrence scrambled left away from pressure and hit Ross at the goal line for a TD. I noticed some pretty athletic blocking by Jackson Carman on that play. Clemson led 7-3 after the Potter extra point.
A delay of game penalty pushed A&M back to the 20 for 1st & 15. A 3-man rush didn’t suffice and Mond found a receiver for 10 yards. A running play didn’t pick up much and Xavier Thomas went down clutching his left leg. On 3rd & 4, the Tigers blitzed but could get to Mond who hit his receiver for a 1st down. The Aggies had a nice run but Turner forced a fumble and Clemson pounced on it at the Aggie 46. A run and a flare pass to Lyn-J Dixon moved the ball down to the A&M 35. Good coverage by A&M forced Lawrence to throw it away but on 2nd down, he read good coverage and took of for the 1st down. A hard run by Etienne picked up 4 tough yards down to the Aggie 21. Etienne picked iup the 1st down at the 14. Rodgers caught his first pass since his ACL tear but it went for no gain. Lawrence avoided a corner blitz but was called for intentional grounding. On 3rd & 26, he hit Higgins for 18 and Potter came in for the FG attempt. This time he hit it and Clemson led 10-3 with about 5 minutes left in the 1st half.
X-Man returned to the game as the Aggies took over. He had apparently twisted his ankle but was ok. Two ineffective plays put the Aggies at 3rd & 9. X-Man and A.J. Terrell met at the QB to end the A&M drive. A&M had a 59-yard punt and the Tigers were called for a block in the back so they started at their 11 yard line. On 1st down, Ross made a great catch but John Simpson was called for being down the field. Dixon did some shifty running and got the 1st down out to the 24. A short run by Dixon was followed by a Higgins catch on a tipped ball for a 1st down. Rodgers got 6 on a 1st down and Dixon was stopped near the line of scrimmage on a hitch pass. A couple of plays later, the Aggies were called for roughing the passer and the penalty gave Clemson 1st & 10 at the A&M 31. Higgins then made and acrobatic catch down to the 2. Etienne moved it another yard and on 2nd down, Lawrence faked it Etienne and then ran it in. Clemson was up 17-3 with 33 seconds left. Mond took a knee on the ensuing play to end the half.
Clemson got the ball first in the 2nd half and started at the 25 after the touchback. Etienne was stuffed at the line on 1st down and an incomplete pass on 2nd down set up 3rd & 9. Etienne had a nice pickup on a rusher but Lawrence couldn’t get the ball to his receiver and the Tigers had to punt. A&M took over at their 31. A.J. Terrell made a nice tackle on a 2nd down hitch pass and then the Aggies jumped to put themselves at 3rd & 12. Mond had a receiver open but he couldn’t pull it in, forcing the punt. Kendrick had a nice return out to the Tiger 24.
Dixon was stopped for a loss on 1st down and Lawrence hit J.C Chalk to set up 3rd & 3. Lawrence hit Cornell Powell but he could only get 2 yards. The Aggies took over at their 27. An Aggies receiver made a nice catch at the 45 but Mond was limping pretty noticeably from lower leg cramps, something that seemed to be afflicting multiple players. On 3rd & 6, A&M committed another false start. The Tiger defense blitzed and forced Mond to throw quickly but it fell incomplete. The punt was fielded by Kendrick at the Tiger 17.
On 2nd down, Etienne took a short pass upfield for a few yards and an Aggie defender committed a horsecollar tackle. A couple of plays later he took another flare pass for 14 yards out to the Aggie 38. Ross then took a jet sweep and got a 1st down. Lawrence then targeted Higgins in the end zone and A&M committed pass interference, setting up 1st and 10 at the 13. Dixon took it up the middle for 9 yards. On the next play he ran it in to put Clemson up 24-3. After the touchback on the kickoff, Mond hit his receiver on the sideline on 1st down and it was called a catch on the field but review showed that his right foot was out of bounds. Mysteriously, the call was upheld. Another sideline catch put A&M just inside Tiger territory. On the next play Mond was sacked for a loss of 10. Yet another sideline catch netted 16 yards to set up 3rd & 4. A bad snap forced Mond to fall on it and it was 4th & 9. The Aggies punted and Kendrick fielded it at the Tiger 11.
A short Etienne run and a Ross catch on a slant led to a 1st down. Etienne got another 1st down on an 11-yard run. On 2nd down, Dixon had a run that was close to a 1st down and A&M committed a facemask penalty, pushing the Tigers into Aggie territory at the 44 as the 3rd quarter closed. on 2nd & 10 , Lawrence had Frank Ladson wide open for a sure TD, but underthrew him. Pressure forced Lawrence to spin and scramble and he couldn’t connect with a receiver. Clemson punted and it was called a touchback. A&M got a first down and moved to the 31. A rollout throw gave the Aggies another 1st down as the Tigers began playing subs. A&M moved inside the Tiger 20. On 3rd &5 from the 11, Muse intercepted a floating throw from Mond who was under heavy pressure from K’Von Wallace, and the Tigers took over at the 1.
Dixon appeared to be stopped for a safety on 1st down, but the Aggies were called for an illegal substitution. A review reversed the penalty but the play had been whistled dead, so the Tigers got another chance. After being stuffed on 1st down, Dixon got loose to the outside on 2nd down for 19 yards. Dixon carried a couple more times for good yardage and Ngata had a 25-yard reception to move into Aggie territory. Soon thereafter, Lawrence underthrew Ross and A&M picked it off at the 9.
The Aggies moved out to their 35 and a roughing the passer call put them at the Tiger 41. A couple of plays later, Turner stopped the A&M RB for a big loss to set up 3rd & 11 but the Aggies converted. A few plays later it was 1st & goal at the 8. On 1st down the Aggies moved down to the 2. Muse saved a TD on 2nd down with a nice defense on a corner pass. Terrell knocked down a pass on 3rd down. A&M went for it on 4th and the TE was wide open as the defense blitzed hard. The score was 24-10 with 6 seconds left. Chase Brice took a knee to end the game.
A&M started off pretty strong but I think Clemson’s depth eventually wore them down. Next week the Tigers head north to take on Syracuse, a game that has been close the last couple of years. Maryland put a beatdown on the Orange today, though. How do you think that will affect them next week. Let us know in the comments section below. As always, check with us over the next few days for the best in-depth coverage of today’s game and previews of next week’s game.