Clemson University

Clemson turns away Texas A&M. Tigers do it with defense

What Brent Venables said after Clemson win over Texas A&M

Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables speaks after the Tigers win over Texas A&M on Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019.
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Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables speaks after the Tigers win over Texas A&M on Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019.

Clemson players said leading up to Saturday’s game against Texas A&M that the matchup was “personal” after the Tigers’ defense was embarrassed by the Aggies a year ago.

Clemson certainly played with an edge during a dominant 24-10 victory Saturday afternoon at Death Valley.

The top-ranked Tigers held the Texas A&M offense and quarterback Kellen Mond in check as Clemson easily passed what will likely be its toughest test of the season.

Texas A&M entered the matchup ranked No. 12, and with Syracuse losing to Maryland Saturday afternoon, Clemson could go the rest of the season without facing another ranked opponent. The Tigers face the Orange next Saturday.

“We felt like we left a little doubt in this game last year, and it was good to see us respond,” coach Dabo Swinney said. “We had certain groups challenged coming into this game, and I thought we accepted the challenge.”

Clemson led 17-3 at halftime behind a 30-yard touchdown pass from Trevor Lawrence to Justyn Ross and a Lawrence 1-yard touchdown run and cruised to the victory in the second half.

After falling behind 3-0 early, the Tigers scored 24 straight points, with Lyn-J Dixon capping Clemson’s scoring on a 4-yard touchdown run midway through the third quarter to give Clemson a 24-3 lead. Texas A&M did not reach the end zone until Mond found Jalen Wydermyer for a 2-yard touchdown pass on fourth down with six seconds remaining in the game.

Lawrence completed 24-of-35 passes for 268 yards, with one touchdown and one interception. His favorite target on the day was sophomore receiver Justyn Ross, who had seven catches for 94 yards and a score.

“It’s huge,” Lawrence said. “Last year you saw, we came out with a win but it was close, left some doubt. It was awesome to play a lot better this year and didn’t really leave any doubt. We know we’re going to get better as the year goes on, get better every week. So it’s awesome to see.”

Clemson star running back Travis Etienne was held in check, finishing with 53 rushing yards, but he did catch four passes for 52 yards.

Mond passed for 236 yards, with one touchdown and one interception after lighting up the Tigers for 430 passing yards in 2018.

Clemson football co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott speaks Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019, after the Tigers' win over Texas A&M.

THREE POINTS

Star of the game: K’Von Wallace led the Tigers with nine tackles, including six solo stops. He also had a sack and a quarterback hurry. Wallace was all over the field and played well in coverage.

Play of the game: Mond had the Aggies knocking on the door of the end zone early in the fourth quarter when Clemson safety Tanner Muse picked the junior off at the Clemson 1-yard line to keep Texas A&M out of the end zone.

Stat of the game: 289: Texas A&M had 289 yards of offense on Saturday. The Aggies had 359 yards in the second half a season ago.

OBSERVATIONS

Clemson’s defense was motivated: The Tigers flew around the field for four quarters and looked determined to not have a repeat of last year’s disaster in the secondary.

Mond was rattled: Texas A&M’s star quarterback missed several easy throws early and didn’t settle down until the fourth quarter when it was too late.

Clemson’s receivers continue to impress: Lawrence had some throws that were off the mark, but it didn’t matter. Tee Higgins and Justyn Ross went up and made catches over defenders time and time again.

NEXT

Who: Clemson at Syracuse

When: 7:30 pm Saturday, Sept. 14

Where: Carrier Dome in Syracuse, New York

TV: ABC

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