Matt Connolly

5 things we learned from Clemson’s win over Boston College

A look back at what we learned from Clemson’s 34-7 victory against Boston College on Saturday before the Tigers travel to face Virginia Tech:

It’s not always going to be easy

Clemson was a 33-point favorite over Boston College on Saturday and was expected to roll to a blowout victory over the Eagles. As Dabo Swinney pointed out after Saturday’s game, that’s not how college football works. The two teams were tied entering the fourth quarter before Clemson scored 27 unanswered points in the final period. The Tigers will have plenty of blowout wins this season, but just like last year, there likely will be several games that are close in the fourth quarter as well.

“It’s not going to be perfect every week,” Swinney said. “I know there’s a myth that we’re supposed to kill everybody. That’s not going to happen.”

Don’t forget about Feaster

A lot of the talk after Saturday’s game was about Travis Etienne, and rightfully so, but don’t forget about sophomore running back Tavien Feaster. The Spartanburg native got his first career start and had a solid outing. Feaster did not have the highlight runs Etienne did, but he did finish with 73 yards on 20 carries and protected the football. He also was impressive as a pass blocker. The 3.7 yards per carry is less than ideal, but Clemson was backed up for many of Feaster’s opportunities and Boston College knew what was coming.

“Feaster had some dirty yards, especially on the goal line when we were backed up,” Swinney said. “He did a heck of a job.”

Offensive line still a work in progress

Swinney said after the win against Louisville that Clemson got its quarterback hit too much. That once again was the case against Boston College. The Eagles sacked Kelly Bryant twice, and Harold Landry hit Bryant as he let the ball go on another occasion, leading to an interception. Clemson struggled in the passing game, but a lot of that was because Bryant didn’t have time to find open receivers.

Bryant needs to trust his receivers to make plays

While the offensive line deserves some blame, Bryant was partly at fault as well. Clemson’s receivers are as good as any at catching jump balls, and Bryant needs to trust them to come down with 50-50 passes. Bryant finally did that in the fourth quarter, connecting with Diondre Overton for a 23-yard gain on third-and-9 with the score tied at 7. The coverage was there, but the 6-foot-5 Overton outjumped the defender and came down with the grab. Clemson scored on the next play and never looked back.

Clemson wears teams down

Clemson has depth that few teams in college football have. The Tigers rotated players at almost every position other than quarterback on Saturday, and by the end of the game, Clemson was able to overpower BC. The Tigers outgained Boston College 213 to 37 in the final period to put the game away.

“We’re going to play our guys. It’s something that we’ve got to do. It’s going to be a long season, and injuries happen. So I’m really proud of our guys for being ready,” Swinney said. “We played a lot of guys on defense and rotated a lot of guys up front. We also have four running backs that we like to play and multiple tight ends, as well. And having that type of depth can wear opposing teams down.”