Tigers beat up Skinner, Deacs

CLEMSON – It was obvious even to onlookers in the upper deck of Death Valley Stadium that Wake Forest quarterback Riley Skinner was a beaten man.

The senior, who is the most experienced quarterback in the ACC, was under siege right from the beginning of Clemson's 38-3 victory Saturday.

When Skinner wasn't being knocked to the ground by various Clemson defenders, he had to scan the field for open receivers with any number of Tigers nipping at his heels.

Clemson senior bandit end Ricky Sapp knew coming in that Skinner could get skittish if faced with an onslaught of constant heat.

"We've played (Skinner) over the years and know if he gets hit a few times, he starts getting frustrated," Sapp said. "We knew we had to come out, hit him, and get him on the ground.

"Once we got on a roll and starting getting sacks we just kept coming and kept coming. We could tell (Skinner) was getting frustrated and their line was getting frustrated."

Late in the second quarter after having his helmet dislodged on a hard hit by blitzing linebacker Kavell Conner, Skinner looked downright dazed and confused as he wearily picked himself up off the soggy turf.

The Tigers finished with their highest sack total since 2007 in getting to Skinner five times. Clemson now has 17 sacks in six games this season, three more than it tallied in last year's complete 13-game slate.

Clemson also added a season-high 12 tackles for loss, including a career-high tying three by sophomore Da'Quan Bowers who moved into a tie with Sapp for the team lead with eight this season.

Jamie Cumbie also had two tackles for loss while six different Tigers were in on the sack total.

"You could tell (Skinner was flustered) because most quarterbacks focus on the wide receivers, but he was more focused on everything else around him, like how fast the pocket was closing in, and that really affected him," said nose guard Jarvis Jenkins.

Clemson held Wake Forest to 81 rushing yards and 97 passing yards (on just 12 of 26 completions) while intercepting Skinner twice. It was the second time this season the Tigers held an opponent under 100 yards in both rushing and receiving, having also done it to Boston College (29 rushing and 25 passing).

While the pressure up front was impressive, there was also plenty of praise to go around for all positions as the Tigers engaged in a mutual admiration society.

"I've got to give a lot of credit to the secondary because on one play I was in on, I actually fell and got up and still got to the quarterback," Jenkins said. "It was more due to the coverage because nobody could get open. We started making plays early and that got us pumped and was great for our defense."

Safety DeAndre McDaniel, who wore No. 17 in honor of former linebacker Stanley Hunter, made his team-leading fifth interception of the season while Rashard Hall added his second.

"I have to give all the props to the defensive line," McDaniel said. "They caused so much havoc up front that they gave me the chance to sit on a lot of stuff. I really enjoy that front four that we got."

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney simply enjoyed the whole show.

"The defense was relentless all day and dominated," Swinney said. "They played smart and made tackles. When you follow your assignments and play with an aggressive attitude, then plays are made. I'm proud of the effort by the defense from the beginning of the game to the end."

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