GRADES: Tigers find their groove

CLEMSON - Clemson roared out of the gates with a 21-0 lead and there was looking back in Saturday afternoon's win in Death Valley.

It was important for Tajh Boyd to get off to a fast start, and for the most part, he did. Directing three early scoring drives Boyd staked Clemson to a 21-0 lead before Wake Forest finally responded with its lone touchdown of the game. Boyd was especially effective in the ground game, rushing 17 times for a team-high 69 yards. He also ended up completing 17-of-24 passes for 311 yards and three touchdowns, setting the record for most consecutive passes thrown without an interception (166) in the process while also establishing the new total offense record in school history. Despite scoring 56 points, Clemson's offensive line could have played better as the running game struggled to establish itself. That needs to be rectified doesn't it? Credit Wake NG Nikita Whitlock for being the disruptive force that he is on this front. Cole Stoudt proved once again he is a quality backup and Sammy Watkins put up huge numbers too. And even Adam Humphries got involved in the offense again. All in all, it was the exact quality offensive performance this team needed headed to Syracuse next week.

Clemson's defense continues to make strides under second-year coordinator Brent Venables and the stats tell the story from Saturday's win. Wake Forest managed just 60 yards on the ground and 222 total yards on offense. The Deacs were also just 2-of-14 on third down. While Wake is clearly struggling determining its offensive identity, Clemson did little wrong in At what point does Vic Beasley start to garner consideration for ACC Defensive Player of the Year? Beasley forced a fumble and had another sack, giving him an ACC best six on the season. It got so bad for Wake, Jim Grobe elected to go with his back up quarterbacks for the duration of the second half. Even though the identity of Clemson football still is on the offensive side of the ball, its obvious the defense can win games too.

For the most part, Clemson was solid on special teams. There was a punt return that was nearly lost due to the ball hitting the back of a Clemson player, but otherwise it was a relatively clean game. Chandler Catanzaro continues to be perfect on the season and Ammon Lakip booted an extra point too. Adam Humphries also looked fairly explosive on a couple of his returns as well. Not bad.

Remember the days when Wake Forest was a thorn in the side of Clemson football? Yeah, I don't, and this team apparently doesn't either. Clemson continues to pummel unranked teams inside the league, further strengthening the notion Dabo Swinney has indeed changed the culture. Clemson was far from flat, executing at a high level on both sides of the ball. It was a Homecoming win to remember, for sure.

With a No. 3 national ranking the bulls eye as large as its ever been for the program, Clemson erased many of the dicey moments seen 10 days ago at N.C. State. The outcome of Saturday's game against Wake Forest was never in doubt and strides continue to be made on both sides of the ball. With each win, the next game becomes THAT much bigger and that certainly applies to next week's trip to Syracuse for the Orange's first-ever ACC game. Keep in mind, Syracuse has upset a nationally ranked team at the Carrier Dome in each of the last five seasons. Clemson, of course, will try to make sure that streak isn't extended with a road win. The good news is team morale is high. The defense is playing as well as it has in three seasons, yielding just 34 total points in its last three games. The offense is also finding its groove as Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins continue their solid start and a cast of supporting characters are emerging. Can it all continue next week? Top Stories