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at Clemson 43 ... Troy 19

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Sep 3, 2011


Week 1 CFN Fearless Prediction & Breakdown - Troy at Clemson

2011 Predictions & Game Story 

Week 1 - Troy at Clemson


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Sept. 3 at Clemson 43 … Troy 19
CFN Analysis: Troy is a good team that might end up winning the Sun Belt, and Clemson blew through the game like it was playing a true cupcake. The passing game was solid with Tajh Boyd coming up with the performance everyone hoped for, completing 20-of-30 passes for 264 yards and three scores, and Andre Ellington provided the balance needed with a grinding game. The D might have given up yards, but the three takeaways helped make it a blowout, and the offense took over in the second half. The secondary struggled a bit, but the stats will look far better next week after facing Wofford in a tune up game before the home dates against Auburn and Florida State. To beat those teams, the pass protection has to be a bit stronger.

The Trojans made too many mistakes in a game like this. The three turnovers and eight penalties were a problem, and the inability to convert yards and drives into points allowed Clemson to take over and pull away. Corey Robinson had a nice game and he kept the chains moving, but again, he and the offense failed too often to come up with points in key moments. On the plus side defensively, end Jonathan Massaquoi had a terrific game. He didn’t come up with a sack, but he was in the backfield and ended up with seven tackles. He’ll have to do even more in two weeks if the Trojans are going to have any shot against Arkansas.

(AP) CLEMSON, S.C. -- Tajh Boyd was 20-for-30 for 264 yards and three touchdowns in his debut as Clemson's starter, leading the Tigers to a 43-19 season-opening win over Troy on Saturday.

Boyd had a shaky first half running offensive coordinator Chad Morris' faster new spread set, and the Tigers were booed as they left the field down 16-13 at half. But Boyd came back out and led Clemson on two third-quarter touchdown drives, going 11-for-13 for 142 yards.

A couple of freshmen played key roles for the Tigers.

Sammy Watkins had seven catches for 81 yards. His first reception went for a 33-yard touchdown. Mike Bellamy took his first carry 75 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.

In all, freshmen gained 266 of Clemson's 468 yards.

Cory Robinson went 24-for-42 for 258 yards, a touchdown and one interception for Troy, while D.J. Taylor ran five times for 63 yards for Troy.

The Trojans have won five straight Sun Belt Conference titles but haven't beaten a BCS team since knocking off Oklahoma State in 2007. Clemson has never lost to a Sun Belt team.

This is a critical season for Clemson coach Dabo Swinney. He brought the Tigers to their first ever Atlantic Coast Conference title game in 2009, but followed that up with Clemson's first losing season since 1998.

This season also started out rough. Clemson's first half left already-anxious Tigers fans hot and angry. Clemson was 0-for-8 on third-down conversions and had just four first downs. Boyd looked uncomfortable in the pocket with several bad throws and a few near-interceptions broken up by his receivers.

But the Tigers first third-down conversion of the day seemed to give Boyd the confidence he had been lacking. He made a nice throw just over the shoulder of wide-open tight end Dwayne Allen for a 54-yard touchdown that put Clemson up for good at 20-16 with 6:56 to go in the third quarter.

The Tigers finally seemed to grasp Morris' offense on the next drive. Boyd completed all nine of his passes, broken up by a few nifty runs by Andre Ellington. Boyd ended the drive with his best pass of the day, threading a ball through two defenders to Jaron Brown for a 7-yard score that put Clemson ahead 26-16 just before the end of the third quarter.

Boyd completed 13 passes in a row at one point in the second half. But he was stuffed twice by Troy's defense while trying to sneak in for a fourth-quarter touchdown and finished the day with minus-7 yards rushing on 11 attempts.

Ellington ran 18 times for 89 yards. Freshman quarterback Cole Stoudt came in late in the fourth quarter and led the Tigers on a 42-yard touchdown drive where only freshmen ran or caught the ball. The drive ended on a 1-yard TD run by D.J. Howard.

Clemson kicker Chad Catanzaro made three field goals, all 45 yards or more, but he missed an extra point.

Troy had 13 different receivers catch passes, led by Eric Thomas' three catches for 63 yards.

Troy (0-0) at Clemson (0-0) Sept. 3, 3:30, ESPN3.com
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Here’s The Deal … Dabo Swinney will kick off his most important season as the Clemson head coach against a dangerous opponent, perennial Sun Belt Conference champion Troy. After capping a 6-7 campaign with a bowl loss to South Florida, Swinney is under the gun in his fourth season since replacing Tommy Bowden. The Tigers have always had an abundance of talent, augmented by the latest recruiting haul, yet have struggled to ascend beyond ACC mediocrity. Saturday will mark the much-anticipated Death Valley debut of Chad Morris’ up-tempo system and Tajh Boyd as the undisputed starting quarterback. The Larry Blakeney-led Trojans are one of the nation’s better-kept secrets among the non-AQ schools. Well-coached and always sending at least one student-athlete to the NFL, the program is seeking its sixth straight season of at least eight victories. Last year’s edition nearly knocked off Oklahoma State in Stillwater, an indication of Troy’s potential to ruin a name brand program’s opening weekend.

Why Troy Might Win: This is not your garden variety Sun Belt program. The Trojans don’t have the depth of a quality ACC school, but they sure have a handful of kids who can play in the league. On offense, the backfield of QB Corey Robinson and RB Shawn Southward will work behind a solid line that’s particularly stout on the left side. The defense returns eight starters, none more disruptive than DE Jonathan Massaquoi. Facing an inexperienced left tackle, the junior will be itching to get in the face of an unproven quarterback operating a new system.

Why Clemson Might Win: Troy has Robinson and Southward … and a lot of other question marks on offense. The Trojans need to replace three starting linemen and last season’s top three receivers. The rebuilt line, in particular, is going to have problems slowing down a Tiger front that may not skip a beat without end DaQuan Bowers. Brandon Thompson and Andre Branch will bring the pressure from the inside and outside, respectively, and the staff won’t be bashful about blitzing in order to test the questionable right side of the Troy line. Clemson RB Andre Ellington will be the most dynamic player on the field, excelling in his first opportunity to bask in the starring role.

What To Watch Out For: One of Saturday’s storylines will be the debuts of February’s high-profile recruits. The locals will be eager to get a first good look at the future, which includes RB Mike Bellamy, receivers Sammy Watkins and Martavis Bryant and linebackers Stephone Anthony, Tony Steward and Lateek Townsend. The linebackers, namely Anthony, are expected to be fast-tracked into the rotation out of necessity, though Steward still needs to prove that a prior knee injury won’t limit his mobility. Watkins used August to ensure himself ample reps once the season begins.

What Will Happen: By all accounts, this has the potential to be a bear trap opener for Clemson. Not only are the Tigers hosting a quality opponent accustomed to tough road venues, but they’re also cutting the tape on a new quarterback and a new offensive system. Troy is more than capable of going stride-for-stride with Clemson long after halftime. Ellington and WR DeAndre Hopkins will deliver the late-game heroics to avoid a crushing upset, but it won’t come without some tenuous moments for Swinney and an agitated home crowd.

CFN Prediction: Clemson 28 … Troy 20
- Click For Latest Line From ATS: Clemson -16   O/U: 54.5
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