2011 Predictions & Game Story
Week 2 - Wofford at Clemson
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(AP) CLEMSON, S.C. -- Tajh Boyd threw three touchdowns and Andre Ellington ran for 165 yards as Clemson held on for a 35-27 victory over Wofford on Saturday.
The Tigers (2-0) hadn't faced the Football Championship Subdivision school since 2001 -- and might wait that long again after this one. Clemson's defense struggled to stop the Terriers' triple-option attack and it wasn't until Clemson's Rennie Moore stopped Donovan Johnson on fourth-and-2 with 3:30 left that the Tigers could rest easy against Wofford (1-1), the defending Southern Conference co-champions.
Boyd had touchdown throws of 42 yards to Martavis Bryant, 38 yards to Sammy Watkins and 17 yards to DeAndre Hopkins. Ellington added a 74-yard TD run, the longest of his career. Ellington's total yards were one short of his career high, set last season against Georgia Tech.
Things will get more difficult next week when the defending BCS champion, Auburn, comes to Death Valley.
Still, the Tigers were happy to get away 2-0 for the second straight season -- something they hadn't accomplished since 2000 and 2001.
The Tigers took the lead for good, 28-24, on Boyd's 5-yard touchdown run with 7:54 left in the third quarter. Wofford got within a point after Christian Reed's 38-yard field goal five minutes later, but could not come closer.
Boyd finished 18 of 29 for 261 yards. He also had four sacks in his second game running things for new offensive coordinator Chad Morris.
Clemson called on young players like Watkins and tailback Mike Bellamy to spark a second-half surge and power past Troy, 43-19, last week. The Tigers had hoped to carry that momentum against the Terriers and put them away in a hurry.
Instead, Wofford's pesky triple-option attack had the Tigers' inexperienced defense on its heels much of the opening quarter. After Clemson fullback Chad Diehl was stopped on fourth-and-1 at midfield, the Terriers took just five plays to break on top as Mitch Allen finished the drive with a 27-yard TD run.
Wofford kept it up two series later when Brenton Bersin ran 20 yards beyond the closest defender for an all-too-easy 66-yard scoring catch.
The Terriers used some surprise on their final score of the opening half when punter Kasey Redfern scrambled 28 yards for a first down on fourth-and-3 -- Wofford punted fewer than four times a game last season -- and a Clemson personal foul pushed the ball to the Tigers 13.
Breitenstein, the Southern Conference offensive player of the year last season, capped the drive with 1-yard touchdown run and a 21-13 lead.
Clemson wasn't done in the opening half and got a little help from the Terriers. Boyd hit DeAndre Hopkins with a 17-yard pass on second-and-20 and Wofford jumped offsides a play later to keep the Tigers' drive going.
Boyd then delivered a well-thrown ball to Watkins between two defenders that the freshmen snatched from the air and took into the end zone. Hopkins converted a two-point play to tie things at 21.
Wofford's last lead came when it opened the second half with Reed's 24-yard field goal.
Allen finished with 92 of the Terriers' 272 yards rushing. Wofford led the FCS in rushing last season.
The game, played a day before the 10-year anniversary of 9/11, honored the military with a 21-gun salute, a flyover and a performance by The Citadel's Summerall Guard silent precision drill team.
Wofford (1-0) at Clemson (1-0) Sept 10, 3:30, ESPN3
Here's The Deal … After a 43-19 victory over Troy, some might be surprised to read that Clemson was booed at home after trailing 16-13. That opening half of football might concern some fans hoping to see the Tigers turn the corner, but the second half is much more important. Clemson came off 30 dreadful minutes of football and made adjustments in the second half, something this team has never done under Dabo Swinney. A sluggish QB Tajh Boyd woke up after halftime, and the Tiger defense allowed just a field goal after getting roughed up early. Wofford comes in 1-0, defeating Presbyterian last week, but this is really just another tune-up game for Clemson, as Auburn comes in next week.
Just like a year ago, Clemson has nothing riding on its first two games, and will be judged by the result of game No. 3. These first two games are crucial to the development of Boyd, the implementation of the young freshmen and adjusting to Chad Morris' new offense. Boyd always had the unfair reputation as an athlete who happens to play quarterback when he can be a very accurate passer. At one point, he completed 13 straight passes against Troy, and the more comfortable he gets in Morris' speedy spread, the more dangerous Clemson will become.
Why Wofford Might Win: This is a classic hump game for Clemson, after a good showing against Troy and an important match up with Auburn coming next week. The Clemson defense gave up too many yards to Troy, 423, and allowed the Trojans to run for 4.6 yards per carry. That won't get it done against better opponents, and Wofford showed a very balanced attack in terms of yard totals in its Week 1 victory. The Terriers rushed for 352 yards in the opener, with Eric Breitenstein and Donovan Johnson combining for 198 yards. The passing game has to become a bigger part of the offense as quarterback Mitch Allen only threw the ball 14 times, completing seven. While there may not have been many attempts in the passing game, it was successful, averaging 22 yards a completion. Wofford has a competent offense that'll need to continue making big plays in the passing game if it wants to upset Clemson.
Why Clemson Might Win: The second half against Troy was everything that Clemson fans hoped they were getting with Morris. The offense was quick, creative and aggressive. Boyd connected with eight different receivers, and young stud freshman Sammy Watkins had a great debut, catching a 33-yard TD pass for his first reception. The most important goals for Clemson this week are to continue to be a balanced offense and allow Boyd to become more comfortable in game situations with his young skill players. RB Mike Bellamy and Watkins have plenty of talent, but they need more reps at this level to improve. Obviously, starters are not going to be a big part of this game, so the young guys need to be the focus early.
What To Watch Out For: If Wofford can run the ball early, it has a great chance to stay in the game, but Clemson NG Brandon Thompson should be able to eat up blockers and allow the Tigers linebackers to get to the backs with little trouble. The Wofford offensive line is young and inexperienced. LT Calvin Cantrell started every game as a sophomore a year ago, but the other four spots are full-time starters for the first time. RG Nate Page started fewer than half the games last year, but that is the extent of the line experience. Thompson and the rest of the Clemson D-line should have a field day against this young group, controlling the line of scrimmage as long as they are on the field.
What Will Happen: Wofford put up huge yards, but played very sloppy against a Presbyterian team that was 2-10 a year ago. The Terriers had 11 penalties for 121 yards and gave up 21 straight points in the second half to let the Blue Hose tie the game late. Clemson is not going to be fancy in this one; it'll run the ball at will and make this a very fast game. Bellamy and Andre Ellington will get the bulk of the work early, but DJ Howard will end up being the team's leading rusher as the second half workhorse. This game will help build a lot of confidence, with Auburn coming in next week. The freshmen, Bellamy and Watkins, will score, but the older players will get more playing time this week.
CFN Prediction: Clemson 52 … Wofford 13
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