Clemson dominated Louisville 47-21 on Saturday. Here are five things we learned from the the Tigers’ win:
Clemson left no doubt
The Tigers didn’t want to just beat Louisville on Saturday. They wanted to make sure that there was no questioning who was the better team. The past three games between Clemson and Louisville had been decided by less than a touchdown, and the Cardinals had a chance to win all three games late. The only thing Louisville could do late in the game Saturday was pad Lamar Jackson’s stats. The Tigers led 33-7 entering the fourth quarter.
“We had two goals tonight – one was to get the job done and the other was to leave no doubt. We felt like we left a little doubt the past couple of years,” Tigers coach Dabo Swinney said. “We just wanted to play good, sound, complimentary football tonight, and we did that in all three phases.”
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Feaster coming into his own
Clemson sophomore running back Tavien Feaster looked like the five-star recruit he was rated as coming out of high school in Clemson’s 47-21 victory. The Spartanburg native had 10 carries for 92 yards and added a 7-yard reception. He was Clemson’s most consistent back and could move into the starting role ahead of C.J. Fuller.
Tigers running backs coach and co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott said the game was the best of Feaster’s career.
“I saw him running tough. From my perspective, he was bouncing off of tackles, he was breaking the arm tackles. He was using that big, physical body that he has the way it’s supposed to be used,” Elliott said. “That’s going to give him opportunities now, as he runs physical between the tackles, he’s going to be able to break some more long runs and really use his speed.”
Venables is nation’s best DC
Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables put together a masterful plan to slow down Heisman winner Lamar Jackson. The Tigers kept Jackson in the pocket and were determined to make him make plays with his arm. Louisville’s offense managed seven points in the first three quarters. Jackson padded his stats late with a pair of touchdown drives against Clemson’s reserves, but the Tigers’ backups also made a goal-line stop in the final minutes, holding Louisville’s starters out of the end zone after a first-and-goal from the 4.
“My favorite part of the whole game was when they’ve got their guys still in the game and we got our goal-line stand at the end there,” Venables said. “That was pretty cool. I’m proud of our guys for coming in there and having a little toughness too them. We did let them right down the field, but really pleased with our guys. We’ve got a chance to have a really good unit. I think we’re creating depth and developing depth.”
Kelly Bryant can be special
Clemson’s starting quarterback outplayed Jackson all night, and his confidence is at an all-time high after the win against Louisville. Bryant did everything you could ask of him while helping Clemson’s offense put up 613 yards. The junior sat in the pocket and delivered beautiful deep balls, kept his eyes down field, made throws on the run and rushed for 26 yards and a pair of touchdowns while once again not turning the ball over.
“He was awesome,” Swinney said. “He settled in and just played a heck of a game. He’s a problem. When you compliment him with our backs and our ability to get the ball on the edge, we can be tough to defend.”
Clemson showed off depth
Cornerback Marcus Edmond did not make the trip with a foot sprain, safety Tanner Muse was ejected for targeting in the first quarter, and the Tigers still dominated the game while getting plenty of guys experience. Clemson brought 72 players on the trip and 70 got into the game.
Backup quarterbacks Zerrick Cooper and Hunter Johnson played late with Johnson completing a pass to Will Swinney, Dabo’s son. The Tigers had 10 players make a catch, and freshman running back Travis Etienne had an 81-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.