Final takeaways from No. 1 Clemson’s 41-23 win over the Virginia Cavaliers
The Cavaliers rolled into Clemson’s Memorial Stadium with upset hopes on their minds but the Tigers had other ideas. After a slower start than most would have liked, it seemed to be business as usual for the Clemson offense.
- It was good to see, after a slow start, the offense was able to handle it and get on pace by the middle of the second quarter. They did look like a team that was either a little rusty after a bye week or may have been possibly looking ahead to a top 10 matchup next week. Virginia is a well-coached, fundamentally sound team that is going to give its best shot more of than not.
- The defense also showed a little rust some would say could be expected from a young team coming off of a bye week. The Tigers gave up 417 total yards to the Cavaliers, the first time that has happened against an ACC team since 2017. Whether it is cause for concern or not remains to be seen. Young guys up front were out of position at times, leaving running lanes open for the quarterback to make plays with his legs, something that can not happen next week against Miami.
- Enjoyed watching Nolan Turner get his first interception of the season in the second quarter. It led to a drive that put Clemson up 24-3 at the time.
- Bryan Bresee got his first sack with a little over a minute in the first half. Bresee ended the night with two tackles total after spending most of the night being double-teamed.
- Myles Murphy had another two tackle night as well but was also a guy who got caught out of position at times. Good learning experience for the young freshman.
- Trevor had a number of blitzes thrown at him by UVA and it didn’t seem to rattle him. He seemed to be able to get the ball out of his hands really quickly when they did send the blitz.
- What a beautiful one handed interception Andrew Booth had to end the Cavaliers first drive of the third quarter. It came in the end zone and was really needed by the Tigers at the time. It was a plat that could have pulled the Cavs to within seven points. He also had three tackles in the game.
- Travis Etienne showed why he is so important to this offense when he caught a pass and rambled for 46 yards on a 3rd and 17 play that kept the drive alive and led to Clemson getting a FG that made the score 27-10. Etienne finished the game with 73 yards rushing on 14 attempts and one touchdown on the ground while getting 114 yards through the air and another touchdown. He was the leading rusher and receiver for the Tiger offense. The 114 receiving yards is a new school record for a running back in a single game.
- One of those touchdowns came after the Cavaliers scored a touchdown to draw within ten points. Trevor Lawrence and the offense drove it straight down the Cavs throat and answered with a beautiful play that saw Lawrence tossing it to Etienne for another touchdown. With running yards hard to come by, the Tigers made sure Etienne stayed involved by getting him involved in the passing game.
- Lawrence along with the first string offense saw their first fourth quarter action of the season. Many would not have expected that but it is a good thing. The more a team is pushed, the better they will be for it.
- A huge play in the fourth quarter happened when Lannden Zanders was able to knock away a fourth down pass. This was a play that almost didn’t happen after Zanders was called earlier for targeting but it was overturned. A flag that probably should not have been thrown to start with.
- It was good to see Chez Mellusi get his first touchdown carry of the season. His touchdown came with 5:27 left in the game and gave the Tigers a 41-17 lead that pretty much sealed the game for Clemson. It was the fourth of his young career. Also worth noting that in a competitive game, it was Mellusi who was off of the bench third and not Darien Rencher.
- Defensive coordinator Brent Venables will not be happy with the fact that his defense gave up so many yards and points but it should give them plenty to work on as the Clemson defense prepares for a top-ten Miami who rolls into Death Valley for another night game next Saturday.