Clemson dominated Wake Forest 63-3 Saturday afternoon and enters its bye week 6-0. Here are five things we learned from the Tigers’ victory:
The defense is hitting its stride
Wake Forest entered Saturday’s matchup averaging 38 points and 488 yards per game before being completely shut down by the Tigers. Wake Forest had 77 total yards and 21 carries for 3 yards in the first half. The Demon Deacons finished with 249 total yards, but most of those came when the game was well out of reach. Clemson finished with 12 tackles for loss, led by Tre Lamar, K.J. Henry, Xavier Thomas and Chris Register, who each had two. Clemson’s backup defensive line had nine tackles for loss, while the starters had one.
“I know everybody thinks the world’s going to come to an end next year when all these guys up front are gone, but I love it,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said. “We’re gonna be all right. We’re gonna be able to roll a pretty good group out there next year.”
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Travis Etienne could be a Heisman finalist
The sophomore running back had another outstanding game with 167 yards and three touchdowns on only 10 carries. Etienne now has 761 yards and 11 touchdowns this year, and over the past four games, he has 64 carries for 654 yards and 10 total touchdowns. Etienne is now No. 4 in the nation in rushing yards and is second in yards per carry. Clemson has four capable running backs and keeps them fresh, which limits Etienne’s carries. But if he can continue to play as he has the past four games, he has a chance to be in New York for the Heisman ceremony.
Adam Choice is more than just a bruiser
Choice has a reputation of being a short-yardage back, but the senior showed off his speed on Saturday. Choice had a 64-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, running away from the defense after he burst through the hole. Choice had the best game of his career with 128 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries. He continues to be a valuable member of Clemson’s offense as he contributes in the running game, is the leader of the running back group and the best pass protector of the backs.
“My goal this year was to make more plays and prove that I can do stuff in the open space,” Choice said. “Today was an opportunity for me to go out and do that and prove that I can be more than just a short yardage or situational back.”
Hunter Renfrow can do it all
The senior receiver caught two passes for 21 yards, but that was just the start of his day. Renfrow had a 42-yard punt in the fourth quarter, which was tied for the seventh-longest punt out of 19 on the day. He also played quarterback on Clemson’s final series, completing a 2-yard pass to Will Swinney. Later in the series, Renfrow served as the lead blocker on a long touchdown run by Lyn-J Dixon after taking the snap and handing the ball off to Clemson’s freshman running back.
“He can do it all. There’s nothing he can’t do,” Choice said. “He’s a complete player. He’s not afraid to sacrifice his body. More power to him.”
Justyn Ross is earning more and more playing time
Ross is only a freshman, but he is already one of the most talented receivers on Clemson’s roster. The Alabama native led the Tigers with five catches for 74 yards and a touchdown on Saturday. Ross is second on Clemson’s team in receiving yards with 286, and he leads the Tigers in yards per catch with 20.4 and touchdowns with four. The more he plays the better he gets, and he could be one of the most important pieces of Clemson’s offense by the end of the year.