Clemson returned to Death Valley with a few fans present to take on The Citadel Bulldogs. Just a few years ago, the Bulldogs shocked the Gamecocks, but no one had any credible reason to believe that the Tigers wouldn’t dominate this game. Triple option teams always have some opportunities to catch teams with superior athletes sleeping, but Brent Venables always has his defenses fine tuned for stopping the option, and the Tiger offense wasn’t expected to face any challenges from the Bulldogs.
Clemson took the opening kickoff at the 25. Travis Etienne picked up a yard up the middle on 1st down. On 2nd down, he got to the edge and was pushed out of bounds at the Bulldog 49. After a rare Amari Rodgers drop, Lyn-J Dixon picked up 3 yards. On 3rd and 7, Trevor Lawrence hit Cornell Powell for the 1st down. Etienne then took a swing pass for another 1st down at the Bulldog 17. Lawrence then hit Frank Ladson for the TD. At 12:36 in the 1st quarter, Clemson led 7-0 after B.T. Potter’s extra point. Potter’s kickoff sailed into the end zone and the Tiger defense held the Bulldog option game in check. Rodgers fielded the punt and had a nice return.
With an illegal formation penalty by the Bulldogs, the Tigers started at the Bulldog 49. After a short Dixon run, Lawrence hit Rodgers deep down the middle for the score. Two minutes after their 1st TD, the Tigers were up 14-0. The Citadel started off slow on their drive, with penalties on the Bulldogs and good play by the Tiger defense, but a play action pass moved them out to the 40. But more penalties and more good Tiger defensive play set up 3rd and 26. The Bulldogs fumbled the snap but recovered.
Another nice punt return by Rodgers put the Tiger offense at the Bulldog 45, but a false start pushed them back to midfield. Lawrence threw a sideline strike to Ladson down to the 31. Etienne picked up 5 tough yards up the middle. A couple of plays later, he rumbled down to the 3. A couple of Etienne runs only moved the ball a couple of yards, and then Lawrence took it in off the left side of the line. With 2 minutes left, it was 21-0. The Citadel came out with an option, but it was well defended by Myles Murphy, who forced the pitch back fumble, and James Skalski picked it up and ran it into the end zone. It was getting ugly, with the Tigers only taking 9 seconds to get their next score. It was 28-0 and the 1st quarter still hadn’t ended.
The Bulldogs muddled around and punted. Etienne returned it to the 6. D.J. Uiagalelei came in at QB and on 3rd down scored his 1st TD for the Tigers. Two minutes into the 2nd quarter, Clemson led 35-0. Yes, it really was that ugly. To be fair, The Citadel was not only playing a far superior team, they were trying to do so being down something like 6 running backs because of coronavirus and other concerns. They should be commended for finding guys willing to step up and play in an obviously tough situation.
Clemson’s offense continued to roll, and Lawrence hit Ladson for a 54-yard score making it 42-0 with 9:55 left in the 1st half. On the next Tiger possession, Darien Rencher had some nice runs and D.J. finished the drive with a 6-yard run up the middle. It’s hard not to think of Cam Newton when you see D.J. on the field. Substitutes started coming in and the score was 49-0 at halftime.
The second half was relatively uneventful with no scoring by either team. Clemson’s reserves got plenty of action against the hapless Bulldogs. One good thing was that there appeared to be no major injuries for either team. The Tigers have a bye next week, and they return to play on Oct 3 in Death Valley against Virginia. Check back with us over the next few days for reviews and previews. Again, apologies for the lack of photographs. My guess is that coronavirus concerns are preventing the wire services from providing them. Thanks for stopping by, and join in on the discussion below.