Top Performers vs Clemson

Talk about a game that had you sitting on the edge of your seat. Just when it looked like the ‘Canes were ready to run away with a convincing win in Death Valley, they allowed the Tigers to get back into before Tyrone Moss and Kenny Phillips saved the day for the ‘Canes to escape with a 36-30 win in triple overtime and literally save their season.

The big win kept the ‘Canes in the race for a spot in the ACC Championship Game in December and in the picture for a possible National Championship even with a season-opening loss.

We'll break down the top five offensive and defensive players in the game versus the Tigers.

OFFENSIVE PLAYERS

1. RB Tyrone Moss – Moss had the best game of his University of Miami career. Although he didn't have his biggest rushing game yardage wise, he controlled the game on the ground rushing in between the tackles especially hard. But more than anything, he had the run that won the game when his scamper from 25-yards off right tackle down the sideline gave the ‘Canes a 36-30 lead in the third overtime. He rushed 31 times for 139 yards and three touchdowns, including one-yard plunge early in the fourth quarter and a six-yard run in the first overtime. One run in particular was a perfect picture of the job he did when on first and goal from the six, he bulldozed his way to the one-yard line carrying three Clemson defenders to the one. He scored on the next play. His hard-nosed style is something the ‘Canes will continue to need as Kyle Wright gets more experience.

2. FB Quadtrine Hill – The leader of the offense came to play in Death Valley as he paved the way for Moss to have a big time game with his lead blocks throughout. Hill opened up hole after hole for Moss and caught a nine-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter to give the ‘Canes a 13-10 lead in the third quarter. His block in overtime sprung Moss for a 6-yard touchdown run. Hill finished with 4 catches for 30 yards and a touchdown and had no carries, but he did the little things that really helped the ‘Canes win the game.

3. OL Anthony Woschlager, OL Tyler McMeans and OL Tony Tella – The guard-center-guard trio was huge for the ‘Canes as they were the start of Moss' big game on the ground. Most of Moss' runs were between the tackles that meant a push in the middle. The trio did the job consistently blasting Clemson tackles off the ball. Overall, the offensive line gave up five sacks after giving up nine in the opener, but those sacks weren't their fault this time as Wright simply made a habit of holding the ball far too long against the Tigers.

4. K Jon Peattie – Talk about the difference one game can make. 12 days after wanting to crawl into a hole and not come out following a dreadful performance against Florida State, Peattie was money as we always expect him to be. He drilled a 37-yard field goal to give the ‘Canes a 3-0 lead in the first. He drilled another 37-yarder in the second to cut the ‘Canes deficit to 10-6 going into the half and hit his final field goal from 19 yards in the second overtime to send the game into a third overtime. He drilled all three of his extra points.

5. RB Charlie Jones – Jones rushed six times for 29 yards, most of which came in the fourth quarter when he spelled Moss for a few plays. He hit quickly through the holes and made an immediate impact following a week when he saw the field for only a few plays on special teams before getting ejected against Florida State. Jones and Derron Thomas are certainly going to provide a great second and third option whenever Moss needs a break or if he ever has an injury.

DEFENSIVE PLAYERS

1. S Kenny Phillips – Need we say more than talk about the true freshman who made the interception that gave the ‘Canes the win in the third overtime. It was Clemson quarterback Charlie Whitehurst's first interception thrown on the season and the Tigers' first turnover this season. It couldn't have come at a better time than when he jumped and snatched the hurried pass out of the air. Phillips added ten tackles to lead the team alongside fellow safety Brandon Merriweather. We could be looking at a starter in Phillips in the very near future.

2. S Brandon Meriweather – Meriweather may have very well played the best game of his life as a member of the Hurricanes. The safety made 10 tackles, three of them for loss and was in virtually every defensive play the ‘Canes had. None was more impressive than when he stuff Clemson's tailback James Davis on a 3rd and 1 play in the third quarter that forced the Tigers to punt. The punt gave the ‘Canes great field position and they scored on the next possession.

3. DT Orien Harris/DT Baraka Atkins – It's hard to only recognize one of them, but the duo was responsible for the ‘Canes being able to completely stuff the Clemson rushing attack. Last year, Reggie Merriweather ran wild on the ‘Canes. This time, with the exception of a 65-yard run by Whitehurst on a play fake, the ‘Canes limited the Tigers to 25 yards rushing on 21 carries, an average of 1.2 per rush. Harris finished with a tackle and Atkins had only four, but their ability to smother Clemson's offensive line allowed players like Phillips and Merriweather to drill Clemson backs all game.

4. DE Thomas Carroll – Carroll made four tackles and one for loss, but he may have made the biggest play of the game when he pressured Whitehurst on the game's final play. His pressure on the quarterback forced an errant throw that allowed Phillips to make the interception to win the game.

5. CB/KR/RB Devin Hester - Hester is primarily a corner so we'll list him as such. He did a fairly good job at corner, but made most of his mark on the special teams as he made a couple of hard hits on the punt coverage team. He also had a 36-yard run as a tailback. He continues to improve in his coverage as a corner, but his ability to affect special teams is remarkable as he forced poor Clemson kicks. The one kick he got his hands on during a kickoff he ripped for a 33-yard return.

Rudy Rodriguez-Chomat is a Staff Writer with CanesTime and can be contacted by emailing him at rudy@canestime.com

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