Clemson University

Five things we learned from Clemson’s win against Boston College

Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence recaps win against Boston College

Tigers clinched ACC Atlantic with victory
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Tigers clinched ACC Atlantic with victory

Clemson pulled away from Boston College on Saturday night, earning a 27-7 victory and clinching the ACC Atlantic for the fourth consecutive season in the process. Here are five things we learned from Clemson’s win before the Tigers host Duke this weekend:

It’s not always going to be easy

Clemson was having its way with its opponents in the four games prior to the showdown with Boston College. The Tigers averaged 60 points per game during the four-game stretch, and the closest game was a five-touchdown win against N.C. State. But Clemson faced some resistance against the Eagles, scoring only 20 points on offense (Amari Rodgers returned a punt for a touchdown) and finishing 5-for-15 on third down. Clemson was still impressive as it earned a tough road victory, but Saturday was also a reminder that it’s not always going to be easy to just run up and down the field for four quarters like the Tigers had done as of late.

“We knew coming in that it was going to be a four-quarter game,” freshman QB Trevor Lawrence said. “Still, we missed some plays. We could’ve put it away a little bit earlier. But still, I’m just proud of the guys and how we fought.”

Lawrence continues to grow up

Speaking of the freshman quarterback, Lawrence passed another big test as he led the Tigers to a win in a night game on the road for the first time in his career. Boston College was solid against the run and forced Clemson to move the ball through the air. Lawrence had no problem doing so, finishing 29 of 40 passing for 295 yards and two total touchdowns in cold and windy conditions that made it difficult to throw and catch.

“Really proud of Trevor. He’s a true freshman, and to come up here in this environment and really lead us ... He’s continuing to learn and grow and get better every week. This was a big-time game for him,” Tigers coach Dabo Swinney said.

You can’t run on Clemson

Boston College running back AJ Dillon entered the game No. 4 nationally in rushing yards per game at 124, but he never got going against the Tigers. The ACC Preseason Player of the Year finished with 39 yards on 16 carries for an average of 2.4 yards per rush as Christian Wilkins and the Clemson defense lived in the backfield. As a team, the Eagles had 33 carries for nine yards for an average of 0.3 yards per run. Clemson leads the nation in yards per carry allowed at 2.1.

“We were able to hold Dillon in check. That’s a credit just to our gap integrity and our physicality at the point of attack,” Swinney said. “You can be in the right spot, but you’ve still gotta be able to hold up at the point of attack. That’s where these guys come in. They defeated blocks, beat blocks, got off blocks and won that battle.”

Clemson’s receivers just keep getting better

Clemson’s three starting receivers — Hunter Renfrow, Amari Rodgers and Tee Higgins — all had big games. Renfrow finished with a season-high eight receptions and 80 receiving yards and tied Artavis Scott’s school record of 38 consecutive games with a catch. Rodgers caught five passes for 73 yards and returned a punt for a touchdown, while Higgins caught four passes for 63 yards, including a ridiculous 35-yard grab with a defender all over him. Justyn Ross, Derion Kendrick and Diondre Overton also made big plays as the Tigers continue to build more depth at receiver.

“It was cool to just come out here and get the win first off,” Renfrow said. “It was just cool to be available when my time came. Just try to play hard and the ball will find you. And I feel like we played really hard tonight and got the job done.”

A lot has changed in a decade

Swinney was searching for his first win as the interim head coach when Clemson played at Boston College 10 years ago. A decade later, the Tigers just clinched their fourth consecutive ACC Atlantic title, becoming the first team to win four consecutive division titles in ACC history. Clemson is clearly the class of the ACC now as Swinney has built the program into a powerhouse.

“I’m thankful for all the young men that have been in our program the last 10 years that have helped establish a standard and a culture that we enjoy, because that group that came in here in ‘08, trying to get that first win as an interim guy, they couldn’t win a division. They weren’t going to win an ACC Championship,” Swinney said. “But they believed before anybody else did, and they laid it on the line. So I’m forever thankful for that group. And because of them, we are where we are today. So it’s really cool to be back here and to achieve this.”