All you need to know is Clemson scored the most points in a first half since its 82 point outburst against Wake Forest in 1981 when Spencer Benton bombed in an ACC record 61-yard field goal. Tajh Boyd was once again on target, finding his favorite receiver Nuk Hopkins six times for 105 yards and three touchdowns- again all in the first half. The Tigers took advantage of outstanding field position throughout the second quarter to pull away and put it on cruise control in the second half. Backup QB Cole Stoudt also came in and did a solid job late in the first half, directing two scoring drives to keep Ball State behind the eight ball. The one thing you didn't like seeing was Clemson opening the third quarter lethargic, but a fourth-quarter Stoudt to Martavis Bryant touchdown eased those concerns. And hey- what about Rod McDowell? "Hot Rod" did his best C.J. Spiller impersonation with 27-yard touchdown run late in the second quarter and appears poised to be a factor for the rest of the year. In all, the Tigers rolled up 500-plus yards of total offense for the second straight week... and that came with Tajh Boyd not even finishing the second quarter. Not bad.
Much like last week, it's obvious the defense remains a work in progress. Defensive coordinator Brent Venables was animated throughout, imploring his unit to simply play smarter and at times, they did. The Tigers came up with a pair of second quarter interceptions to provide a spark, (one by Stephone Anthony, the other by Darius Robinson) but there were large running lanes for Ball State running backs, including Horatio Banks, who scampered 54 yards for the Cardinals first touchdown of the afternoon. Next week, Clemson has to formulate a better pass rush and also shutdown running lanes between the tackles. This has to be a concern for head coach Dabo Swinney, Venables and the rest of the defensive staff. Either the front four has to play better, or the linebackers have to make more plays.
SPECIAL TEAMS: B
Benton's field goal set an ACC record and gives the Tigers a long-range weapon headed into the start of conference play in two weeks. The Tigers were semi-fortunate in recovering a surprising Ball State onside kick, but outside of that and a missed extra point from Chandler Catanzaro, special teams were again solid. The kick return game was average at best, but Benton's 61 yard field goal makes up for it.
Clemson came in as a four-touchdown favorite, and looked the part. In addition, there were no key injuries and the offense rolled up over 500 yards once again. Ball State's offense figured to cause this team more problems than Auburn did a week ago, thanks to its play at quarterback and no-huddle attack. It was far from a perfect performance, but the outcome of the game was never in doubt. Overall, you have to pleased with the effort as the team wasn't flat as it set the tone early.
Clemson needed to get many of its reserves in for significant playing time, including four quarterbacks, and thanks to a 32-point second-quarter scoring barrage, it did. Clearly, the offense is poised for another record-setting year while the defense still needs work. The Tigers get one more week to "work out the kinks," taking on a pesky Furman team before heading to Tallahassee to face a top 10 Florida State team in 14 days.
GRADES: Taking care of business
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