To say that Saturday afternoon's win over MTSU was just what the doctor ordered would be a bit of an understatement.
Following an emotional week that witnessed the passing of play-by-play announcer Jim Phillips, the Clemson Tigers gave everyone a reason to celebrate.
Clemson came out and dominated Middle Tennessee State from the beginning, and this time, they never let up.
Using a precision passing attack that saw Charlie Whitehurst complete 82% of his passes, the Tigers wide outs carved up a defense that simply looked overmatched.
Junior wide receiver Airese Currie caught a school record 12 passes for 133 yards and a touchdown.
Senior Kevin Youngblood added 5 catches for 49 yards, and Derrick Hamilton added 4 catches for 78 yards and two touchdowns.
Even the running game improved as the Tigers grinded out 183 yards on the ground, led by Kyle Browning's 53 yards on 11 attempts.
"This was a big win for us," said head coach Tommy Bowden. "The coaches really put together a great game plan this week and we went out and executed today for 4 quarters. We've gotten better every week this season and that's really all you can ask of your team at this point."
Clemson got on the board first when Charlie Whitehurst found a wide-open Derrick Hamilton cutting towards the corner of the endzone on a 29-yard touchdown pass. The extra point was blocked, but the Tigers went ahead by 6 less than 4 minutes into the game.
After the Blue Raiders' defense stiffened in the 1st quarter, the Tigers would strike again early in the 2nd. This time, it was Duane Coleman taking a screen pass 34-yards for the score. On the play, Coleman sidestepped several defenders and tip-toed down the side line for a 13-0 lead.
Whitehurst would go on to add another touchdown pass to Derrick Hamilton, and Chad Jasmin would plow into the endzone from 3-yards out to give the Tigers a 27-7 lead headed into halftime.
After failing to score in the second half last week against Furman, the Tigers would add 10 points Saturday. Whitehurst would find Currie in the back of the endzone with just over a minute left in the 3rd quarter for another touchdown and a 34-7 lead.
"He's unstoppable right now," Whitehurst said of Currie. "Nobody can stay with him and he's catching everything thrown his way."
Senior placekicker Aaron Hunt emerged out of his slump by drilling a 42-yard field goal in the early stages of the 4th quarter.
Middle Tennessee State would go on to add a late touchdown, but the Tigers' defense held at 14 points.
Defensive coordinator John Lovett was pleased that his defense held true in the fourth quarter, after seemingly collapsing against Furman and Georgia.
"We didn't have a lot of the penalties today like we saw last week," said Lovett. "But we still gave up that last touchdown, so we've got some work to do."
With the win, the Tigers improve to 2-1 on the year. Clemson will travel to Atlanta next weekend to open up conference play against the surprising Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at the newly renovated Bobby Dodd Stadium.
Emotions were high throughout most of the game as Clemson University paid tribute to the late Jim Phillips, the voice of the Tigers for the last 36 years. One of the highlights of the day had to be former Gamecock play-by-play announcer Bob Fulton calling the Tigers' third touchdown of the game.
"It was an honor to be here," Fulton would say afterwards.
CB Justin Miller suffered a hip pointer in the 3rd quarter and will be re-examined Sunday.
Airese Currie has already caught more passes in 3 games this season (20) than he has in any of his first two years at Clemson. His 12 receptions set a Clemson record for most number of catches in a game.
The Tigers registered 31 first downs (tied for 3rd most in school history) and ran for more yards today (183) than their first two games combined (124 & 35).
Former Union star QB Josh Harris entered the game in the third quarter and promptly drove the Blue Raiders 78 yards in 10 plays for their only touchdown of the second half. Harris finished the day 2-for-7 passing for 31 yards.
CB Toure Franis got the start over Tye Hill at cornerback. Hill didn't get into the game until late in the 2nd half.
Travis Pugh came away with the game's only turnover when he intercepted Josh Harris in the fourth quarter.
Kyle Browning got the start at running back Saturday over Duane Coleman. Tommy Bowden said that he would likely stick with the 3-man rotation at running back in the coming weeks. "It looks like we'll probably stay in a three man rotation in some way unless one of them just separates and makes some really impressive long runs," Bowden said.
Tigers Pound MTSU, 37-14
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