CLEMSON, SC – No.1 Clemson was dominant from beginning to
end in Death Valley on Saturday against No.11/12 Texas A&M. The game
started much as it did last year, with the Tigers up 17-3 at the half. The Tigers
had a 14-3 lead at halftime in College Station last year, but they allowed
Kellen Mond and the Aggies to mount a furious rally through the air and nearly
tie the game with a 2-point conversion. This time, the Tigers would never take
their feet off the Aggies' necks. The Tigers had a 24-3 lead until the Aggies
scored a touchdown on 4th and 3 with 6 seconds left. I expected there
to be more scoring in the game on both sides, but it was a scoreless first
quarter with both teams feeling the other out.
Like last year, both teams were able to stop the run. The
Tigers rushed for 121 yards and the Aggies for 55 yards. The Tigers’ defense
did a much better job than last year against Kellen Mond and the Aggies’
receivers—at least for the first three quarters. Mond had just 51 yards at the
half and 115 yards after three quarters. With a 21-point lead at the end of the
4th, the Tigers played zone coverage on defense, and Mond picked it apart. Mond
finished with 236 yards, but it was a far cry from the 430 he had against the
Tigers last year. He also wasn’t able to run the ball as effectively, netting
just one yard on the ground versus 33 last year.
Just like last year, the Aggies jumped out to a 3-0 lead
early in the 2nd quarter after Potter missed a 47-yard field goal
attempt. Trevor Lawrence answered with a 30-yard touchdown pass to Ross, who
had 72 reception yards at the half. Trevor missed on a couple throws, but he
was much better than last week, going 24-35 for 268 yards with the TD to Ross
through the air. He also ran for his second touchdown in as many games after just
one rush TD last season. However, Trevor threw his third INT of the season on an
underthrown deep ball that could have been a touchdown.
After putting up video game numbers in the opener, Etienne
netted just 53 yards and no touchdowns on 16 carries on Saturday, which was
just over his yardage on half the carries in College Station last year. It’s
not surprising that the Aggies would play heavy against the run after what
Etienne did to Georgia Tech last week. For the first time in his career,
Etienne had a bigger impact in the passing game, making 4 catches for 52 yards,
both career highs. Etienne had several dropped passes in his first two seasons,
and that was the one part of his game on which he’s worked the hardest during
the off-season, as Trevor Lawrence told me a couple weeks ago. Sophomore back
Lyn-J Dixon had a breakout game, rushing for a team-high 79 yards and a
touchdown. It wasn’t a career high for him, but it was an impressive
performance against a great rush defense in an enormous game, and it gave
Clemson fans a glimpse at the one-two punch he and Etienne will provide this
season. Incidentally, Texas A&M had the No.3 rush defense in the nation
last season! As I reported could be the case last week, slot receiver Amari Rodgers made his 2019 debut on Saturday. He only had 2 catches for 6 yards, but it was great to see him back weeks ahead of his expected return from the torn ACL in March.
The Clemson defense was superb for the second straight week
despite its inexperience on the defensive line. Those guys in the front four
are quickly coming of age, and Saturday was a big step forward. Again, A&M
had just 3 points until 4th and 3 with 6 seconds left, and they
mounted just 144 total yards through three quarters. It was disappointing that
the defense was unable to prevent that lone touchdown at the end of the game.
All of the starters were on the field with the exception of Mario Goodrich at
corner, and the Death Valley crowd was in full throat as if the game was on the
line. After a timeout, Venables sold out on a blitz, and Jimbo Fisher released
the tight end for a wide-open touchdown, a career first for true freshman Jalen
Wydermyer. Venables told us after the game that he anticipated the play and
that it was a coverage bust by his defense. The upshot, of course, is that the
Tigers would have tied Alabama for the longest streak of wins by 20 points or
more at 12 games if not for the touchdown. And the defense always takes a lot
of pride in denying the opponent end zone entry, almost like a shutout or no-hitter
for a pitcher. Still, it was an outstanding overall performance against a very
good offense with a great quarterback, one of the best receiver groups in the
nation and one of the best offensive minds in the game in Jimbo Fisher. After
missing an open-field tackle on 3rd and 15 that led to the A&M
field goal, Nolan Turner had a tremendous game with a forced fumble and a few
great plays in coverage. Tanner Muse also came up with his second interception
in as many games, and the Tigers won the turnover margin for the fifth straight
game going back to last season, the longest streak since 2013.
The Defending Champs have cleared their biggest hurdle of
the regular season schedule with their 17th straight win, tying the
school record. They will have to travel next week to Syracuse, which suffered
an embarrassing blowout loss at Maryland on Saturday. It will be Cuse’s first
home game of the season, and the Tigers will get an angry team looking to
Dabo’s press conference is below! Click the link below for coach
and player post-game interviews.
One year after Clemson’s top-ranked scoring defense allowed 501 yards at Texas A&M, Clemson held Texas A&M to 289 total yards on Saturday. It included holding quarterback Kellen Mond to 236 passing yards (97 through three quarters) after Mond accounted for 430 yards in the teams’ meeting in 2018.
Clemson held Texas A&M to 2.0 yards per carry on 27 carries, the lowest yards-per-carry average allowed by Clemson since holding Boston College to 0.3 yards per carry on Nov. 10, 2018. It’s the 18th time since 2014 that Clemson has held an opponent to 2.0 or fewer yards per carry, second-most in the country. Clemson is 17-1 in those contests.
Texas A&M scored its lone touchdown with six seconds remaining. Clemson was six seconds away from holding its opponent out of the end zone for the fourth time in its last 17 games, dating to the start of the 2018 season.
Clemson finished plus-one in the turnover margin and has been positive in the turnover margin in five straight games, dating back to last season, for the first time since the first five games of the 2013 season.
The 14-point win snapped Clemson’s streak of consecutive victories by 20 or more points at 11, one shy of 2018 Alabama for the longest such streak by any team in the AP Poll era (since 1936).
Quarterback Trevor Lawrence completed 24-of-35 passes for 268 yards with a touchdown. He also rushed four times for 11 yards with a rushing touchdown.
Running back Travis Etiennerushed 16 times for 53 yards. He also posted career highs with four receptions for 52 receiving yards.
Etienne recorded a career-long 27-yard reception in the second quarter, surpassing his previous long of 24 against NC State in 2018.
Running back Lyn-J Dixon led Clemson with 79 rushing yards on 11 carries. Dixon led Clemson in rushing yards for the first time since doing so in his collegiate debut against Furman in 2018.
Wide receiver Justyn Ross caught a career-high seven passes for a team-high 94 yards and a touchdown. His career high in receptions entering the day was six, set in both College Football Playoff games last season.
Ross recorded his first touchdown reception of the season on a 30-yard pass from Lawrence on third-and-11 in the second quarter. The touchdown reception was the 10th of Ross’ career.
The touchdown pass to Ross was Lawrence’s 32nd career touchdown pass, tying him with Kyle Parker (32 from 2009-10) for seventh in school history.
Lawrence rushed for a one-yard touchdown in the second quarter, giving him a rushing touchdown in back-to-back games for the first time in his career.
Running back Lyn-J Dixon recorded his second rushing touchdown of the season on a four-yard rush in the third quarter.
Dixon has now recorded a rushing touchdown in back-to-back games for the second time in his career. He previously accomplished the feat against Wake Forest and NC State in 2018.
Safety Nolan Turner recorded the first forced fumble of his career in the second quarter. It was recovered by linebacker James Skalski, his first career fumble recovery.
The takeaway by Skalski gave Clemson at least one takeaway in each of Clemson’s last six games, dating to last season.
Cornerback A.J. Terrell and defensive end Xavier Thomas split a second quarter sack. The half-sack was the first of Terrell’s career.
Safety K’Von Wallace recorded his first career sack, dropping Mond for a 10-yard loss in the third quarter.
Safety Tanner Muse recorded his second interception of the season and his second in as many weeks. It marks the first time in his career he’s recorded an interception in back-to-back games. His two interceptions this season tie his single-season career high, set in 2018.
Musebecomes the first Clemson player to record an interception in each of the first two games of a season since DeAndre McDaniel, now a defensive analyst for Clemson, in 2009.
Clemson’s first play from scrimmage was a pass reception by tight end J.C. Chalk. Chalk is the grandson of College Football Hall of Famer Gene Stallings, who coached at Texas A&M from 1965-71. Clemson Head Coach Dabo Swinney played and coached under Stallings at Alabama.
Wide receiver Amari Rodgers made his season debut in the first quarter, 166 days after suffering an ACL injury during spring practice on March 25.
Texas A&M scored the first points of the game on a 32-yard field goal in the second quarter. It was the culmination of a 16-play drive, the longest allowed by Clemson since a 16-play drive by Louisville on Nov. 3, 2018, a drive that also resulted in Clemson holding its opponent to a field goal.
The Tigers held Texas A&M to under 100 total yards in the first half (92), marking the first time in the last 20 games the Aggies have failed to gain at least 100 yards in the opening half. The last time the Aggies were held under 100 total yards was Oct. 28, 2017 against Mississippi State (33) in a 35-14 loss.
At 94 degrees, the temperature at kickoff was the third-hottest in Clemson history and the second hottest at Death Valley, trailing only a 95-degree game against Troy on Sept. 3, 2011. Two of the three hottest games in Clemson history have been against Texas A&M, including a 95-degree game at Kyle Field on Sept. 18, 2004. (Note: The temperature was 96 degrees at the start of the ABC broadcast prior to kickoff.)
The game was the sixth all-time meeting between Clemson and Texas A&M.
Captains for the contest were offensive lineman Gage Cervenka, safety Tanner Muse, linebacker Isaiah Simmons and guard John Simpson.
WITH THE WIN…
Clemson won its 17th consecutive game, dating to the start of the 2018 season, tying Clemson's all-time longest winning streak by matching a 17-game streak across the final three games of the 2014 season and the first 14 games in 2015.
Clemson won its 17th consecutive game at Memorial Stadium, dating back to a 56-7 win against South Carolina on Nov. 25, 2016. The 17-game streak is the second-longest home winning streak in Clemson history, trailing only a 21-game Memorial Stadium winning streak from 2013-16.
Clemson has now won 38 of its last 39 games at home.
The 2018-19 Tigers’ 17 consecutive wins are tied with the 2014-15 Tigers and the 1999-2000 Florida State Seminoles for the second-longest streak in ACC history. The longest winning streak in ACC history is 29, set by Florida State from 2012-14.
Clemson attempting to win a sixth straight home game against SEC competition (def. Georgia in 2014, South Carolina in 2014 and 2016, Auburn in 2017, and South Carolina again in 2018). The current five-game home winning streak against SEC foes is already the longest in school history.
Clemson improved to 9-1 against SEC competition since 2016.
Clemson won its ninth straight regular season game against SEC competition. Clemson's last regular season loss to an SEC team came against Georgia in 2014.
Clemson won its 20th consecutive regular season non-conference game. Clemson's 20-game streak against non-conference opponents in the regular season dates to a 73-7 win against South Carolina State on Sept. 6, 2014. No member of Clemson's current roster has lost a non-conference game in regular season play.
Clemson improved to 10-2 all-time in games as the AP No. 1-ranked team. Eleven of Clemson's 12 games played at No. 1 all-time have come during the Dabo Swinney era.
Swinney improved to 17-9 all-time against SEC opponents.
Swinney improved to 6-4 all-time against Texas A&M Head Coach Jimbo Fisher. The coaches were 4-4 against one another during Fisher's tenure at Florida State and Swinney is now 2-0 against Fisher with Texas A&M. Clemson has won five straight over Fisher-coached teams.
Swinney pushed his all-time record in non-conference play as a head coach to 43-13, which extended his non-conference record in regular season play to 34-8.
Clemson pushed its winning streak in Saturday games to 31 to extend the longest Saturday winning streak in school history. Clemson's 31-game run of consecutive Saturday victories is the longest active streak in the country.
Clemson won its 19th consecutive game in the month of September, dating back to 2014. The streak is already the longest in school history.
Clemson evened its all-time series record against Texas A&M at 3-3. Texas A&M won the first three games in the all-time series (1973, 1974 and 2004), while Clemson earned victories in 2005, 2018 and 2019.
Clemson earned its second all-time home win against Texas A&M (2005).
Clemson led 17-3 at halftime and has now won 68 of its last 70 games when leading at halftime. Per ESPN Stats & Info, it marked the 18th time that Clemson had outscored its opponent by 14-plus points in a half since 2016, most in the FBS.
Clemson improved to 89-2 since 2011 when leading after three quarters. Clemson is also 89-2 when totaling more first downs than its opponent in that same span.
Clemson has now won 70 straight games when holding teams under 23 points, a streak that dates to 2010.
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