Tigers Pound Bulldogs, 45-17

CLEMSON - The Tigers put up over 520 yards of total offense, but also give up over 400 yards on defense in their first win of the 2008 season.

No one perhaps said it better than Clemson offensive coordinator Rob Spence.

The Tigers coach told the media Saturday's 45-17 victory over The Citadel wasn't anything to get too excited about.

Instead, it was a "small beginning."

It was a beginning the Clemson offense definitely needed after last week's embarrassing display against Alabama. The Tigers rebounded with a 525-yard outing, which saw them rush for 252 yards and throw for another 273.

"It feels real good to get that taste out of our mouth," Clemson quarterback Cullen Harper said. "It seemed like last week was a long week for us. All we heard is people talk about Alabama this and Alabama that so it feels good to come out and get a win under our belts and get our confidence back."

The game plan was to slowly give that confidence to the offensive line.

"They got their hats on the right bodies," Clemson coach Tommy Bowden said. "I'm sure there were some physical mismatches, but the biggest thing was to see if they learn to be a lot more aggressive than they were last week."

Clemson's offensive line looked aggressive. The Tigers came out, like most expected, and pounded the ball straight at The Citadel. Clemson running back James Davis had 93 of his game-high 107 yards in the first quarter, including a 38-yard scamper for the game's first score.

"We had two freshmen guards and we wanted to get those guys some quality reps and establish what we wanted to do," center Thomas Austin said. "That first drive we drove all the way to the three yard line and we only had one pass so that's definitely what we wanted to do. We wanted to go in there and establish the run early and get that going."

The Tigers (1-1) continued to keep it on the ground after that. C.J. Spiller made the score 14-0, while showing off his running skills with a run up the middle, while breaking one would-be tackler before cutting outside for a 37-yard touchdown with 11:30 to go in the second quarter.

He later added a one-yard run with 4:25 to play which gave the Tigers a 21-0 lead at one point. After combining for just 20 yards against Alabama, Clemson's "Thunder and Lightning" at least showed some flashes that the storm is still rumbling in the backfield.

"I don't think we played our best game, but we did okay," Davis said.

Spiller complemented Davis' 107-yard effort with a 75-yard three touchdown afternoon. He scored on a 17-yard run in the third quarter that put the Tigers up 28-7.

Safety Michael Hamlin and the defense finally helped put the Bulldogs (1-1) away.

The senior safety tied a school-record with three interceptions, including his final one which setup Harper's 26-yard touchdown pass to tight end Michael Palmer that gave Clemson a 35-7 lead with 4:09 to play in the third quarter.

"Every win feels good. This is just a start for us," Hamlin said. "This just lets us know we can play ball. We gave up some big plays, but we dominated like we were supposed to. This kind of puts the chip back on our shoulders."

The only negatives came in the first half. The Bulldogs go most of their 427 yards then, including 229 from quarterback Bart Blanchard and 140 receiving yards from Andre Roberts. The Citadel cut into a 21-0 lead following Spiller's second touchdown when Blanchard hit Haney for a 37-yard gain and then Roberts on a 41-yard scoring pass, which was very reminiscent of Matt Ryan's touchdown pass in the closing moments of last year's Boston College game.

"You need to have a win where you can feel a little bit better about yourself," Bowden said. "We didn't play a perfect game… It was a long week because it was an embarrassing loss. You don't sleep much when that happens, but at least now you can get a good night sleep."

CUTigers.com Top Stories