Clemson dominated the line of scrimmage throughout Saturday’s win against Florida State, outgaining the Seminoles 227-21 on the ground as the Tigers clinched a third consecutive ACC Atlantic title.
Clemson has won 41 consecutive games when it rushes for at least 200 yards.
“I think, at the end of the day, when you peal it all back, when you can run the ball and the opposing team can’t run the ball, usually good things happen,” Tigers coach Dabo Swinney said. “Those boys up front deserve a lot of credit.”
The Tigers have rushed for at least 200 yards in six of their 10 games. Clemson’s only loss came in the only game it lost the rushing battle, as Syracuse finished with 162 rushing yards to Clemson’s 113.
“Proud of the offensive line and those running backs, 227 yards against that defensive front,” Clemson co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott said. “They haven’t been giving up a whole lot of rushing yards, so that, obviously, was the difference in the game.”
Freshman running back Travis Etienne led the way for the Tigers with 97 yards and a pair of touchdowns, while quarterback Kelly Bryant added 60 yards and a score. Adam Choice had seven carries for 40 yards and a touchdown after not getting a carry last weekend against N.C. State.
“Just out there trying to help my team, trying to get the win. Just for me to be out there in that situation, the offensive line really opened up good holes for me just to run through, and everybody did their part,” Etienne said. “The receivers blocking down the field, without them I wouldn’t be able to get those two touchdowns. Just thankful for them.”
Clemson fumbled deep in Florida State territory twice in the first half, allowing the Seminoles to stay in the game.
Tavien Feaster was hit as soon as he took a handoff from Bryant midway through the second quarter, and Florida State recovered at its own 3.
Later in the second period, Bryant fumbled at the 1-yard line and Clemson was forced to kick a field goal. The Tigers led 17-0 at the half.
“I felt like we should have had at least 24 at the half, maybe 28,” Swinney said. “Those are the type of things that allow good teams, talented teams to hang around. And we had a few other opportunities that we just didn’t capitalize on.”
BANGED UP TIGERS
Clemson starting linebacker Kendall Joseph and star defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence did not play after being listed as questionable.
Cornerback Marcus Edmond, who the Tigers were hoping to get back, also missed the game, as did cornerback Mark Fields.
Clemson’s best cornerback, Ryan Carter, was injured early in the second half on a punt and did not return. Tigers starting safety Tanner Muse played a limited number of snaps with a broken bone in his hand.
Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables said he isn’t sure he has ever had a defense suffer this many injuries in a season.
“Probably not to this extent,” Venables said. “So sometimes it’s frustrating, but those guys have worked hard in their preparation and been easy to coach and again with the young guys you’ve got to get them confident and get them calls they can execute but ultimately they’ve got to go out and do it.”