This year's Clemson Tigers haven't moved into the "great" neighborhood just yet, but they're certainly checking out the latest real estate listings and thinking about making a purchase. Clemson took a big step in that direction Saturday against Wake Forest. Yes, Wake Forest.
It's never good to make too much of any one game, especially one that was won as easily as Saturday's 56-7 contest, but it was another example of the Clemson program's maturation. This was the Clemson team everyone has been waiting to see since the win over Georgia in the opener.
The Tigers certainly imposed their will on the Demon Deacons, and the game was over competitively speaking with 7:32 left in the first quarter. By that time it was 21-0, and two of Clemson's three touchdowns came on long scoring passes.
Wake Forest never threatened again (or before that really), and that's the kind of performance the third-ranked team in the nation is supposed to have in a game like this.
Clemson's players looked sharp in just about everything they did. They were well-prepared by the coaching staff, and they executed the game plan. They played with passion and purpose and played up to a level that they have set for themselves.
The Tigers didn't coast because they know they should beat the Demon Deacons, and they certainly didn't play down to their opponents' level. Instead, they performed to their own standard of strong play (really from top to bottom), and that was on display throughout Saturday's game.
That's how teams win games by 49 points and how the Tigers made sure the Demon Deacons know it could have been worse if the Tigers wanted it to be.
Yeah, he's "off"
Remember Tajh Boyd? The Heisman Trophy candidate who was so "bad" against N.C. State? The one who was "off" that night?
Well, he threw for 311 yards and three more touchdowns and no interceptions Saturday. He still hasn't thrown an interception this season, and he has nine touchdown passes.
Most quarterbacks in the nation would like to be "off" like that. Boyd was on point Saturday, completing 17-of-24 passes and leading the team in rushing attempts (17) and yards (69).
He now has 9,971 career yards and is Clemson's all-time leader and has accounted for 100 touchdowns in his career, becoming just the second ACC quarterback to do that. Remember when C.J. Spiller's No. 28 was retired immediately after his final game? Dabo Swinney might make a similar proclamation after this season about that No. 10.
Boyd has had a larger impact on the program than Spiller did, and Boyd is going to go down as the greatest quarterback in Clemson history. He's probably going to be the greatest offensive player ever for the Tigers, as well, and would be in the discussion with Jeff Davis and Terry Kinard as the greatest Clemson player ever, at least in the modern era.
Defensive key stat
There were actually a few in Saturday's game.
The Tigers allowed just 222 total yards and the one touchdown, and they forced two more turnovers, while the offense didn't have any. Clemson is now plus-seven (nine to two) in turnover margin, which is really strong.
But the one stat that continues to jump off the page for this Clemson defense is third-down conversions. Wake Forest was just 2-of-14 and never got into any kind of rhythm running or throwing the ball (they averaged only 1.9 yards per carry for 60 yards rushing).
Clemson's opponents through four games have converted only 16-of-62 attempts on third down. If the Tigers' defense can stay anywhere remotely close to that, they can continue to have the kind of games they have had the past three weeks: allowing 34 points and 841 yards (an average of 11.3 points and 280.0 yards per game).
Offensive key stat
Again, there were quite a few that jumped out in Saturday's game, but one was critical.
Clemson went 6-for-6 in red-zone tries against, and they remain perfect in 16 tries this season.
That's the definition of efficiency, and it goes hand-in-hand with the lack of turnovers by this team (just one by the offense through four games). When the Tigers are getting into the red zone, they aren't doing anything silly or trying too hard to make a play.
Boyd isn't forcing the issue. He understands that a field goal still adds points to his side of the scoreboard, and that's important.
How important? Remember the Aaron Murray interception against Clemson in the Tigers' territory in the opener? It wasn't in the red zone per se, but it was close, and it helped turn the game in Clemson's favor.
The Tigers haven't helped their opponents very much, and they're making them work for everything they get. That's part of the reason Clemson owns a 172-69 scoring edge through four games.
Daniel Shirley is the sports editor of The Telegraph in Macon, Ga., and co-host of The Morning Show on FoxSports 1670 AM. Follow him on Twitter at @DM_Shirley and read his blog at macon.com/peachsports.
They're … close to great
CUTigers.com Top Stories
RECRUITING RADARIn our weekly Recruiting Radar, CUTigers Recruiting Analyst Gary McDaniel updates you on the latest news and intel on the Clemson recruiting front!
CUTigers.comMonday at 5:53 PM
Inside the Matchup: Louisville vs ClemsonIt's a top 5 matchup from Death Valley.
Scout CFBYesterday at 12:00 PM
GRADES & ANALYSIS: Georgia Tech#3 Clemson dominated Georgia Tech, beating the Yellow Jackets in Atlanta for the first time since 2003!
CUTigers.comYesterday at 11:08 AM
FLASH SALE: TODAY ONLY!!!UNTIL MIDNIGHT ONLY: Get 3 months for the price of 1!
CUTigers.comYesterday at 7:19 AM