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Clemson Football

The Morning After: No. 1 Clemson 42, No. 7 Miami 17

October 11, 2020
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The No. 1 Clemson Tigers (4-0, 3-0 ACC) are the best team in college football, far and away. On Saturday night against No. 7 Miami (3-1, 2-1 ACC), they spent all 60 minutes validating that statement.

The scoreboard didn’t even do the beatdown justice. The Tigers outclassed, outpaced and outplayed the Hurricanes all night long, demolishing “The U” by a lopsided score of 42-17.

In a game where the Hurricanes came into Death Valley seeking to make a statement, the Tigers were the ones to make their own, silencing the narrative about the talent “gap” closing in the ACC. Clemson is undoubtedly still the class of the conference and college football as a whole, and Saturday night’s top-10 showdown made that clear.

Let’s recap some of the most prominent moments, storylines and quotes from Clemson’s 42-17 win over Miami.


TRAVIS ETIENNE: HEISMAN FRONT-RUNNER?

Is it possible to be arguably the best player on the best team in the nation and still find yourself underrated? Clemson running back Travis Etienne continues to prove that proposition feasible.

Etienne rushed for 149 yards and two touchdowns, while also cementing his status as a threat in the passing game, collecting eight receptions — most of any Tiger on the night — for 73 yards.

In addition, Etienne officially broke Tim Tebow’s record for most games accounting for at least one touchdown, as Saturday night was Etienne’s 39th overall.

“It hasn’t sunk in yet,” Etienne said of the record. “But I guess when I’m older looking back on it, it’s going to really hit me.”

Should Etienne continue at this rate, he’s a surefire bet to be booking a trip to NYC for the Heisman Trophy presentation in December. It remains to be seen whether the senior running back will become the first Tiger to take the coveted award home, but should that be the case, Etienne’s 72-yard touchdown run on Saturday night will likely wind up as one of his marquee plays of the season.

Getting the edge on the left side of the line, Etienne turned on the jets and kept his footing down the sidelines. He raced to daylight to give Clemson a 28-10 lead in the third quarter. The Tigers never looked back.

Etienne is on pace for a record-breaking season that could see him taking home plenty of hardware at the end of the year. But for now, he’s focused on the task at hand: winning football games.

“To get the Heisman, cool,” said Etienne. “It’s a tremendous accomplishment. But if you’re not winning games, they aren’t talking about you in the Heisman race.”

 

YOU WON’T LIKE HIM WHEN HE’S ANGRY

Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence took big hit after big hit from the Hurricanes, sending the raucous socially-distanced Death Valley crowd into a hush in the third quarter after a crushing blow to his sternum. Some of the hits delivered to Lawrence might have been considered late or malicious, but even with the licks Lawrence continued to take, the star quarterback got back up each time.

After a 1-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter, Lawrence decided to bark back at a Miami defender following a hard tackle in the end zone. Following the score, Lawrence spiked the ball in the Hurricanes’ direction, resulting in a 15-yard penalty.

Clemson Sports Talk
Lawrence gets in the face of a Miami defender following a 1-yard rushing touchdown.

“That was just a dumb play on my part,” Lawrence confessed after the game. “That’s not what we’re coached to do, that’s not who we are. Shouldn’t have done that. But I was just pumped, I was fired up. I let my emotions get a little too high. But I was fired up.”

Lawrence finished the evening with 292 yards passing and three touchdowns, complimenting his stats with an additional score on the ground. Perhaps this will serve as a warning for future opponents: nothing good will ever come from ticking off the best quarterback in the nation.


DEFENSIVE DOMINANCE

Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables called one of his best ever games Saturday night.

Throughout the entire game, Miami’s offensive attack was stifled, unable to maintain their preferred tempo or get anything going on the ground. Hurricane running backs combined for a total of just 11 yards. Most importantly, the Tigers were able to limit the dual-threat ability of Miami quarterback D’eriq King.

Clemson’s defense allowed a mere 210 yards of total offense to the Hurricanes on the evening, forcing three interceptions along the way. The defensive line was quick off their blocks, limiting the time needed to get anything going down the field. Aside from a few outlier plays, the Tigers contained D’eriq King exceptionally well. The Hurricanes QB — who came into Saturday night’s matchup smothered in hype — mustered up just six yards per carry on 14 attempts, which doesn’t account for much considering 56 of those yards came on a single second-quarter scramble.

Clemson Sports Talk
Clemson cornerback Derion Kendrick makes an interception in the third quarter.

The final stat line through the air for King? 12-28 passing, 121 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions.

“I think our guys did a really good job of collapsing the pocket and making it tough to step up in the pocket,” said Venables. “I think our guys really complimented each other up front and in the back end really well.”

 

SPECIAL TEAMS STRUGGLES

On a night where nearly everything went right, within the kicking game, hardly anything did. The field goal unit was sent out three times to attempt to salvage points for the Tigers, and all three times, the Hurricanes blocked B.T. Potter’s kicks.

That isn’t a misprint or a typo. That’s correct, the Tigers had all three field-goal attempts blocked Saturday night.

In what was the lowest point of the afternoon for the Tigers (there weren’t many), head coach Dabo Swinney sent the field goal unit on right before the end of the first half to attempt a 61-yarder.

Protection was blown up, and the kick was blocked right into the waiting hands of a Miami defender. As time expired in the first half, the Hurricanes returned the kick to the house, tightening the score at 21-10.

“He had a big wind behind him,“ said head coach Dabo Swinney. “They all felt like he could do it, and I made the decision to do it… that was a bad decision on my part.”

Clemson Sports Talk
It wasn’t a night to remember for B.T. Potter, as all three of his field-goal attempts were blocked by the Hurricanes.

 

NOTES:

Clemson’s tight ends were involved heavily in the passing game against the Hurricanes. Braden Galloway finished with five receptions for 74 yards and two touchdowns, while Davis Allen roped in a 22-yard touchdown to cap the Tigers’ scoring. 
Backup quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei came in for a few plays throughout the course of the game, including a 14-yard rush in the second quarter in which Trevor Lawrence lined up as a receiver.
The Tigers utilized six different running backs tonight, spanning from the top to the bottom of the depth chart. Travis Etienne, Lyn-J Dixon, Darien Rencher, Mychal Dukes, Kobe Pace and Chez Mellusi all got some reps running the ball against the Hurricanes.
Clemson’s secondary was as stingy as ever, coming away with three interceptions on the evening. Two of those picks — made by Sheridan Jones and Derion Kendrick — helped swing the momentum of the game in the third quarter.
The Hurricanes seemed to have no answer for the Tigers on third down. Clemson finished 8-17 on third downs, but when it mattered most, Miami was unable to get off the field. Trevor Lawrence utilized Travis Etienne in the passing game several times to extend early drives.

 

FINAL WORD

Clemson did what most people expected them to do against Miami: win.

What wasn’t expected, however, was the degree to which Clemson dominated the game on both sides of the ball.

Twitter: @ClemsonFB
Dabo Swinney speaks to ESPN following the game.

Both Tiger coordinators outcoached their Hurricane counterparts all game. Trevor Lawrence outplayed D’eriq King. Travis Etienne outshined Miami running back Cam’Ron Harris. Clemson’s tight ends set the tone for the game in a way most thought Miami’s would do. Aside from the field goal units, the Tigers were flat-out the better team in every facet of the game.

But what else have fans come to expect from the Tigers?

They heard the noise. They heard all of the chatter about how Miami was “back.” Clemson listened, and then came away with the statement win Miami so desperately craved. That’s what proven champions do.

Maybe another day, Miami. But there are levels to this.

And as for now, the Hurricanes — along with the rest of the teams in college football — just aren’t quite on the same one as Clemson.

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The Morning After: No. 1 Clemson 42, No. 7 Miami 17

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