5 Intriguing Stats for Clemson in 2020

Brad Senkiw

Through four games, Clemson has dominated opponents by combined scores of 169-53.

The No. 1 Tigers have outgained their foes by more than 800 yards on the season and recorded 42 more first downs than the other teams. 

Those highly-noticeable numbers aren't the only reason Clemson is 4-0 and blowing out the opposition. It's still a small sample size, but here are five key stats that are helping make the Tigers look like a national championship contender: 

Explosive plays

There aren't many stats more telling about the outcome of individual games than the number of chunk plays teams record. It's become a separator for the elite teams.  

With a high-powered offense like the Tigers have, you'd expect that to be the case, and you'd be correct. Clemson has had 75 of its 300 total plays go for 10 yards or more. That's fifth-best in college football. 

They've had 28 plays of 20-plus yards, which is tied for third. Travis Etienne's 72-yard touchdown run against Miami last Saturday was the longest play from scrimmage this season for the Tigers, 

The Clemson defense, however, has allowed 38 plays to go for 10 yards or more, which ranks 21st nationally, and 15 have been for 20-plus yards. That's an area they could improve, but as long as the offense keeps doing what it is, it won't cost this team games. 

Turnover ratio 

Turnovers have a degree of luck, and they can be extremely cyclical from season to season. But they're also a point of emphasis and something that good teams generally rank better at forcing than committing. 

Last season, Clemson was first in the ACC and third nationally with 19 interceptions. Through four games this year, Brent Venables' unit has picked off five passes. Only eight teams in FBS have recorded more. This group has also forced four fumbles but has fallen on just one of them, James Skalski's scoop and score against The Citadel. 

Meanwhile, the Tiger offense has committed three miscues all season. One was an interception thrown by Taisun Phommachanh at Wake Forest while another was a fumble by Mikey Dukes against the Bulldogs. 

That's a turnover margin of plus-3, which ranks 13th nationally out of 76 teams. 

Trevor Lawrence's completion percentage 

Clemson quarterback's 355 passing-attempt streak without an interception is well documented at this point. He hasn't turned the ball over via the air since the seventh game of last season. But that's not the only number trending in a positive direction.

Lawrence is completing 72.4 percent of his passes. That's up significantly from the last two years when he was at 65.8 last year and 65.2 the year before. In fact, he averaged 64.8 in his first four games of 2019. And it's not that he's throwing shorter passes just to up his completion rate.

Lawrence is averaging 9.8 yards per pass attempt, which up from last year's 9.0 mark. Opponents are completing just 6.3 yards per pass against Clemson, giving the Tigers a huge statistical advantage through the air.  

Tight end touchdowns 

This season, Clemson's tight end trio of Braden Galloway, Davis Allen and J.C. Chalk have combined to catch four of Lawrence's 10 touchdown passes. 

It's a position group that didn't have a single TD catch in all of 2019, when Galloway was suspended for all but the College Football Playoff. In 2018, Lawrence threw just two scores to tight ends. 

This year's increase signals both a talent rebirth at a position that's been dormant since the Jordan Leggett era and a concerted, creative effort to use the middle of the field more, as well as making this group a priority in the red zone. 

Out-punting the competition 

You've probably heard this before: The opposing punter always seems to have a career day or grow a super bionic leg hours before playing the Tigers. 

The thing is, that's sort of statistically accurate. In 2018 and 2019, Clemson ranked dead last in the ACC in opponents' punting average. In 2017, the Tigers were 12th. The previous season they were 11th. In fact, you have to go all the way back to 2011 to find the last time Clemson was in the top-3 in the league when it came to punt-yards average against. 

It's like free-throw shooting in basketball. You have very little effect over it. Last season alone, teams averaged over 46 yards per boot against the Tigers, who averaged 41.98 as a team, but the Tigers have been able to overcome the field-position disadvantage because of how balanced they are on both sides of the ball. 

However, so far this season, Clemson is reversing the roles behind senior Will Spiers. The Tigers are averaging 44.7 yards per punt while the opponent is averaging 43.7. At this pace, 2020 would be the first season Clemson won the punting average battle since 2013.