Clemson's front four responding

CLEMSON - Through the first quarter of the season, Clemson defenders combined for just two sacks.

Troy utilized a passing attack that saw the quarterback unload the ball quickly to short and intermediate receivers.

Wofford ran the ball 52 times and threw it just eight times.

Auburn had more run plays [38] than pass plays [25].

But Clemson pass rushers have recorded nine over the last three games -- two against Florida State, four at Virginia Tech and three more against Boston College.

The Tigers are now 69th nationally with 1.83 sacks per game.

Malliciah Goodman, one of six Clemson defenders with a sack this season, said there's more to assessing quarterback pressure than sack numbers.

"Pressure is pretty much the whole thing about it. If you can get the quarterback to step up, roll out or just acknowledge that you're there. That affects it a lot and helps you out."

Goodman is second on the team with nine quarterback pressures. Rennie Moore has a team-high 11. Andre Branch is third with eight. Brandon Thompson's six is fourth-best. Five others have two apiece.

"Stats are not everything about football. It's doing your job," Goodman said.

In the first quarter of Clemson's win over Boston College last week, he was on top of both. The junior from Florence had a sack and two of the tackles for loss in the first 15 minutes of the game.

"They put a lot of focus on Branch," Goodman said. "We'll get out and then Branch will be like, 'I'm getting double-teamed, triple-teamed, chipped.' And I was like, 'I'm getting single blocked over here.' I guess they put more emphasis on him. It just opened up for me."

Goodman added, "Everybody was energetic, everybody felt good. We were just hungry for more sacks."

Life for opposing quarterbacks will continue to be miserable as Clemson moves into the second half of the season. With Goodman and Branch both providing steady pressure off the edge, opposing offensive coordinators have plenty to worry about at the line of scrimmage.

"They don't really know where the pressure's going to come from, but they're going to get some pressure," Goodman said.

And plenty of that pressure is coming right up the middle, too.

"We've got Brandon Thompson on the inside. When he takes a double team, it creates a single block on one of the ends," Goodman said. "If I cause a double team, it's going to open something for somebody else. We have four guys that can force double teams. It opens up opportunities for the other defensive linemen."


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