First of three first-time opponents visit Clemson
Each of the next three Clemson opponents in Memorial Stadium will be making their first trip to Clemson for a football game. Louisville is Saturday’s opponent and this will be the
first meeting anywhere between the two schools.
Clemson and Louisville were members
of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association between 1914-22, but never faced each
In two weeks Syracuse will come to
Clemson for the first time. The Tigers and Orange have played twice on the gridiron, once in
the 1996 Gator Bowl and last year at Syracuse,
but never at Clemson. Then, on November 22,
Georgia State and Clemson will play for the first
Louisville is the 54th
different team to
come to Memorial Stadium and the Tigers are
39-13-1 against those teams when the visitor is making its first appearance. But, it has
been especially difficult to beat Clemson in that
first meeting since 1978. In the last 37 years
Clemson is 23-2 against teams making their first
appearance in Memorial Stadium.
The only teams to win their first game
here since 1998 are Marshall (13-10 winners
over Clemson in 1999 in Tommy Bowden’s first
game as Clemson coach) and Miami (FL) (36-30
wins over Clemson in 2005 in triple overtime,
the longest game in Clemson history.
Louisville lost seven starters on
defense from last year’s team that finished with
a 12-1 record and number-15 final national ranking. But the Cardinals are even better than they
were last year on defense and hold a number of
top 10 national rankings in defensive categories.
So far this year Louisville leads the
nation in total defense, allowing just 230 yards
per game. They are also first in rushing defense,
allowing just 58.3 yards per game, and total
interceptions with 12. They are second in yards
per play allowed with a 3.75 figure and second in
yards per rush allowed at 2.01.
The leader of the defense has been
safety Gerod Holliman, who has an astounding seven interceptions for 122 return yards in
just six games. He not only leads the nation in
interceptions, he has three more than any other
player. Holliman moved from cornerback to
safety this year and the results are a big reason
Louisville has allowed just 12.7 points per game,
sixth in the nation.
On offense, Louisville has played two
quarterbacks this year. Senior Will Gardner has
thrown for 798 yards and eight touchdowns in
four games and has completed 56 percent of his
passes. True freshman Reggie Bonnafon went
the distance at Syracuse and has played the last
two games while Gardner recovers from a knee
injury. Bonnafon has thrown for 531 yards and
two scores. He has completed 57 percent of
his passes. So, we could see a matchup of true
freshmen as Clemson will start true freshman
Deshaun Watson, who is 2-0 as a starter this
Eli Rogers is the top receiver for
Louisville with 24 receptions for 259 yards. He
has 155 career receptions for 1654 yards. The
X-factor in Saturday’s game is DeVante Parker,
a senior who has not played this year due to a
broken foot. Through his junior year he had 113
receptions for 1,920 yards and 28 touchdowns.
Last year he had 12 touchdown receptions to set
a school record. That was the same number of
touchdown receptions Sammy Watkins had for
Clemson last season.
Clemson Now Faces One of Nation’s Toughest Defenses
Entering the NC State game on October 4, Head Coach Dabo Swinney challenged
his defense because the Wolfpack were entering
the game as the ACC’s best in terms of total
offense and near the top in scoring. NC State
was scoring 40 points per game and gaining 505
yards per game. The defense responded by
holding the Pack to zero points and 154 yards of
Now it is the offense’s turn to answer
the challenge as Louisville comes into the game
leading the nation in total defense and rushing
defense and sixth in scoring defense. Louisville
gives up just 230 yards per game in total offense,
58 rushing yards and 12.7 points per game.
Clemson has averaged 491 yards and
40.4 points per game so far this year, so it will be
a challenge against Louisville’s strong defense.
Below is a chart that compares some of the
important statistical categories.
Watson Second in Nation in Passing Efficiency
As stated above, we could have a
battle of true freshman quarterbacks in Saturday’s game. Clemson’s Deshaun Watson has
started just two games in his young career, but
both have been memorable, a 50-35 win over
North Carolina when he threw for a record six
touchdowns, and last week’s 41-0 win over NC
State when he had 329 yards of total offense
and four more touchdowns rushing and passing.
Over the last two games he has
thrown for 702 yards and eight touchdowns.
That is the most passing yards in the first two
games of a Clemson quarterback’s career as a
starter. Charlie Whitehurst, now with the Tennessee Titans, had the previous mark with 692
yards. Watson has tied Whitehurst’s record for
touchdown passes in a quarterback’s first two
starts. Whitehurst had four against Duke and
North Carolina, both on the road, in his first two
For the year, Watson has completed
76-106 passes for 1,181 yards and 12 touchdowns with just one interception. That competes
to an efficiency rating of 197.9, second best in
the nation behind Oregon’s Marcus Mariota,
who is at 205. Watson does lead the nation in
yards per pass attempt with an 11.1 figure and is
fourth in touchdown/interception ratio and 10th
completion percentage (.689). In terms of total
offense yards/play, Watson is 11th
with an 8.56
Tigers Register Shutout against Wolfpack
Clemson is coming off one of its best
all-around performances in recent years in the
41-0 win over NC State. It was the largest margin of victory for the Tigers against the Wolfpack
and the first time Clemson had registered a shutout against any ACC team since 1998 against
Maryland. It was the first shutout in any game
since Dabo Swinney became Clemson head
coach. It was Clemson’s first shutout against
anyone since Dabo Swinney became head
Clemson’s defense held NC State to
35 yards passing and 154 yards of total offense,
the best figures for the Tigers against an ACC
foe since a victory over Boston College in 2009.
NC State came into the game averaging 40
points and 505 yards per game and had scored
at least 40 points in four consecutive games, a
first in NC State history. NC State had just four
yards total offense in the first half and had just
79 yards through three quarters.
Swinney Eighth in Winning Percentage in
Head Coach Dabo Swinney is eighth
in ACC history in winning percentage in ACC
games. He has won 36 of his 50 league games
so far for a .720 winning percentage. Leading
the list is Jimbo Fisher of Florida State, who
has a 31-7 mark for a .816 percentage. Frank
Beamer of Virginia Tech is fifth at .756 off a 66-
21 mark. So three of the top eight ACC coaches
in history in terms of winning percentage in
league games are active coaches.
Swinney 21-3 in Home ACC Games
Dabo Swinney is 21-3 in ACC home games in his career as
Clemson head coach, a .875 winning percentage. Given a minimum of
four years, that is the third best home ACC winning percentage in league
history. The leader is former Clemson head coach Ken Hatfield, who was
12-1-1 at home in ACC games from 1990-93. Jimbo Fisher is second with
a 16-2 mark and a .889 percentage. Former Clemson Head Coach Danny
Ford is eighth with a .821 percentage off a 32-7 record. Frank Howard
was 30-10 in home ACC games for a .750 percentage.
Beasley Ties Clemson Career Sack Record in
Vic Beasley tied the Clemson career
sack record in grand style last Saturday when he
had a sack, forced a fumble, recovered fumble
and scored a touchdown all on the same play in
the win over NC State. That was Beasley’s 28th
career sack, tied for the most in Clemson history
with Michael Dean Perry (1984-87) and Gaines
Adams (2003-06). So his next sack will break
Beasley has had a remarkable run to
the record when you consider he has started just
18 games in his career. All 28 of his sacks have
come in his last 31 games. It is amazing to think
that in 2010 he was the scout team quarterback
as the Tigers prepared to play Georgia Tech.
And what is really remarkable is the
negative yardage he accounts for when he
makes those big plays. His 28 sacks at Clemson
have accounted for 218 lost yards for the opponent, the most in school history. It is also the
most by an active FBS player....by 84 yards.
Andre Monroe of Maryland has the second most
negative yards on sacks with 134.
The same goes for Beasley’s tackle
for loss totals. The Clemson graduate has 39
tackles for loss in his career for 257 yards. No
other FBS player has more than 175 lost yards
on his tackles for loss.
NOTES: Tigers clash with Cardinals
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