Clemson DT Christian Wilkins talks touchdown run vs FSU
Clemson entered Saturday’s game against Florida State with the belief that if it could carry out its offensive plan, it would put up plenty of points.
“We had a feeling that if we could come in and execute that we could really get up on them,” co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott said following Saturday’s 59-10 win.
That confidence was on full display early and often as the Tigers scored the most points ever by an opponent at FSU in the dominant victory.
Clemson got some unlikely contributions at running back in the win and did so fairly early in the game. The Tigers led 14-0 when 315-pound defensive tackle Christian Wilkins lined up at running back with 350-pound defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence at fullback as his lead blocker.
Wilkins took the handoff from quarterback Trevor Lawrence and easily scored from a yard out to give the Tigers a 21-0 lead with 3:34 remaining in the first half. It was the first rushing touchdown of his career.
“This was kind of just for coach to shut me up because I’ve been in his ear a lot about playing quarterback or getting on offense,” Wilkins said. “But I’m still going to be at him next week and the week after and the week after that until he lets me play quarterback. But I was definitely happy with this one for sure.”
Moments later it was time for another Clemson player to reach a milestone as tight end Garrett Williams lined up at fullback and scored on a 2-yard touchdown run to push the lead to 28-0.
Williams’ father, Dayne Williams, played fullback at FSU and had a strong career, which included scoring 15 touchdowns in 1987.
“We’ve had that play in since I was a freshman but we haven’t really ran it much,” Garrett said. “I was glad we got to unravel it out of the closet tonight. That was fun for sure.”
The touchdowns by Wilkins and Williams were a part of a 52-point outburst by Clemson in the second and third quarters. The Tigers added another touchdown less than two minutes into the fourth quarter just for good measure.
How confident was Clemson in its offense going into the game? It has a potential Heisman candidate at running back in Travis Etienne, but it opted to allow Wilkins and Williams to make history instead in the second quarter instead.
“We started early in the week with our short-yardage, goal line stuff. So it was early in the week and we just repped it and repped it,” co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott said of Wilkins’ touchdown. “We also had the belly to Garrett. That was something that we wanted to make sure that we do. He’s a legacy down here. He’s an unbelievable worker, unbelievable character, and if we had the opportunity we were going to try to get him in the end zone.”
Scott added that head coach Dabo Swinney put in the formation with Wilkins in at running back early in the week.
“Not only are we wanting to win, but we want to have fun doing it,” Scott said. “We practiced it and the guys were really excited that Christian was going to get that opportunity.”
Clemson starting center Justin Falcinelli did not play against the Seminoles after suffering a concussion earlier this week in practice.
Gage Cervenka started in Falcinelli’s place and performed well.
“They put him in the concussion protocol and he just wasn’t ready, but that’s one of the benefits of playing as many people as we play,” Swinney said. “(Gage has) played a lot of football and he’s played good football for us and he’s played in every situation.”
Kicker Greg Huegel was hurt when he was roughed during a field goal attempt in the second quarter. Huegel did return to the game before eventually giving way to freshman B.T. Potter.
“He’s OK. Just his knee was sore. He got hit pretty good,” Swinney said. “I think he went back out and maybe kicked one or two extra points, but he was just pretty sore so we just held him. And it was good for BT to get in and get a little experience. He did a nice job.”