WHAT WE ARE HEARING: PREVIEW & PREDICTION FOR NO.25 CLEMSON vs. CHARLESTON SOUTHERN
- 2023-09-08 14:57:47
Welcome to another edition of What We Are Hearing!
The Tigers got off to a disappointing and embarrassing start on Monday night, but all is not lost. If you’re going to lose a game—and most national champions have lost a game—it’s best to lose in the opener on the road. Remember, the Tigers lost at home in November of 2016 and still won the national title. This was a painful loss, but to me, it wasn’t as bad as the loss at Notre Dame last season when the Tigers were simply manhandled. They out-gained Duke by almost 50 yards and had great offensive balance, passing and rushing for over 200 yards. You’ve probably heard this by now, but Clemson was 108-0 all-time when doing that and 58-0 under Dabo. That’s how flukish this loss was. It took several monumental mistakes combined for them to lose that game. Otherwise, we’d all feel great about beating a top 25 caliber Duke team on the road to start the season. That’s a very good, well-coached Duke team with an NFL quarterback that was 14 points away from being undefeated last season. Who knows, we might get a rematch in Charlotte for the ACC Championship. The coaches and players have already flushed that game and put it behind them. It’s time for the fans to do the same. This is still a very talented team that controls its destiny. I believe they will clean up the sloppy mistakes, get their confidence and mojo back after blowing out their next two opponents and beat FSU in a couple weeks, unlike most. But it starts on Saturday with the home opener against Charleston Southern, and the Tigers will christen the new and improved Tiger Walk a couple hours before kickoff!
This is the first all-time meeting between Clemson and Charleston Southern….Clemson is coming off consecutive losses for the first time since 2011. Clemson has not lost consecutive games in the same season since 2011, the longest such streak in the nation…In their season opener at Duke on Monday, the Tigers rushed for 213 yards. It was just the fifth time in 16 ACC season openers that the Tigers rushed for over 200 yards. If the Tigers run and pass for over 200 yards again on Saturday, it will be the first time they have done son in consecutive games since 2019 against South Carolina and UVA in the ACC Championship. It would be the first time they have done so in consecutive games to start the season since 2000 against The Citadel and Missouri…Clemson has won 19 straight home openers, last losing to UGA in 2003. It’s the longest home opener win streak since 1944-60….Clemson is 97-17-8 in home openers….Clemson lost its last home game to South Carolina 31-30, snapping a nation-long 40-game home win streak. The Tigers are a nation’s best 59-2 at home in the CFP era…Clemson has not lost consecutive games at home since Tommy Bowden’s final home game and Dabo Swinney’s first game as interim coach in 2008….Clemson is 37-0 against FCS teams….Dabo is 31-8 in games coming off a loss…Dabo is 32-6 when ranked lower than the previous week…Clemson is now 101-6 against unranked teams since 2012…Clemson has scored at least one rushing touchdown in 68 of its last 70 games, a national best since 2018…Clemson had 6 hurries but no sacks on Monday at Duke. The Tigers have not been held to zero sacks in consecutive games since 2008 against Maryland and Wake Forest…Clemson needs 7 sacks to be the first program with 500 sacks since 2012…
CHARLESTON SOUTHERN SYNOPSIS
There isn’t a whole lot to go on when looking at the Buccaneers. They’ve played just one game under first-year Head Coach Gabe Giardina, who was previously the head coach at Albany State. CSU won that game last week against Division II North Greenville 13-10, so their offense left something to be desired, and Giardina is an offensive-minded coach. Ironically, he was a walk-on at Alabama in 2000 when Dabo was and assistant and in charge of walk-on program, so they have some history. It was Dabo’s last group of walk-ons before he left Alabama.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Kaleb Jackson will be playing in just the second game of his career and first on the road. He did not take a single snap last season. How would you like to be an FCS quarterback and your first road crowd to be Death Valley?! He started last week but was replaced in the first half by Tony Bartalo, a redshirt junior. Jackson was just 2-8 passing for 9 yards, and Bartalo was 5-12 for 95 yards. Neither threw an interception, but neither scored and neither seems to be much of a runner.
Their only touchdown was a run by RB Autavius Ison (#33). He rushed for just 9 yards, however. 5’11, 182-pound junior RB JD Moore (#10) from Abbeville rushed for 105 yards on 17 carries. He averaged 6.1 yards per carry with 6 touchdowns last season. 5’10, 183-pound freshman RB TJ Ruff (#24) added 30 yards on 7 carries. Obviously, the passing game wasn’t very potent last week, completing just 7 passes. 6’1, 192-pound freshman WR Jaden Scott (#81), a Charleston native, caught 2 passes for 29 yards. 5 other players caught one pass each.
The defense obviously played well, allowing just 10 points, but it was a Division II team they were playing. They will mostly be a 4-man front, but Albany used some odd-man front in the past. Freshman DL Laron Davis (#92) intercepted a pass last week, which was their only forced turnover. He also had 9 tackles. Their kicker was 2-2 on field goals last week with a long of 44.
One of the only good things about the Duke game is that the Tigers are in good shape from an injury standpoint. The other good thing is that it’s a short turnaround, so the players don’t have to live with that bad taste in their mouths for long. Dabo said he liked the way the team responded after the loss in practice. This is where the leadership and accountability of a team are vital, and I believe this team has both in spades. In fact, Dabo said that in terms of accountability points, this is the best team he’s ever had. I expect that they put their noses back to the grind stone and worked to clean up the basic mistakes that cost them the game on Monday. There were a few critical dropped passes, some poor angles and missed tackles and obviously the fumbles and blocked field goals. The kicks were too low, but also there was poor protection on the first one. Dabo said that Gunn responded well in practice, and the team rallied around him. He will likely get another shot at his first career field goal on Saturday, as he kept his starting spot for one more game. Mafah’s fumble was simply poor ball security. The other fumble was on Cade. He was indecisive on the RPO and tried to pull it out of Shipley’s chest too late.
The bottom line is that the offense and defense played well enough to win at Duke. Dabo told me on Wednesday night that if they run and pass for over 200 yards in every game, they will not lose again, and I believe him. Clemson was 108-0 all-time when doing that, and it took a whole lot of fluke mistakes to give them their first loss. The offensive line also played well for the most part in both the run game and pass protection. The defense got good pressure on the quarterback with 6 hurries but no sacks. That’s mainly because Leonard is very tough to sack, which is why Duke had the fewest sacks allowed in the ACC last season. I expect to see at least a few sacks on Saturday.
The Tigers are obviously the much more talented and deeper team in this game. You can basically make your own point spread for this one. I just want to see the Tigers play a clean game on both sides of the ball with few if any mistakes, and I think they will do that. They only had one penalty at Duke, so that was one positive and pretty rare for an opener. I expect the Tigers to come in with a chip on their shoulders and dominate from start to finish. Cade Klubnik wins his first game as a starter, and a new home win streak begins in Death Valley on Saturday!
The Prowl toward another ACC Title and return to the College Football Playoff continues…
CLEMSON 55 Charleston Southern 0
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