Turnovers The Difference For Clemson Against Syracuse

Clemson's defense forced four turnovers, three in the second half, to help lift the Tigers to a 47-21 victory over Syracuse Saturday. Head coach Dabo Swinney said the turnover margin, won by Clemson 4-1, was the difference in the game.
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Trailing by 26 late in the fourth quarter, Syracuse called a reverse that allowed Nykeim Johnson to sprint down the sideline for a 61-yard gain.

He was stopped short of the goal line by Clemson's Jalyn Phillips. Phillips would intercept Syracuse quarterback Rex Culpepper on the next play solidifying the Tigers victory.

"So proud of 25," Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables said after the game Saturday. "Jalyn did a great job and what a great example and message of why you play to the whistle. He finished the play with great effort and then comes back and picks it off. Thought our guys really responded well in the second half."

Phillips interception was one of three turnovers forced by the Clemson defense in the second half. Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said turnover margin (won by Clemson 4-1) was the difference in the game.

"Whenever when on the field our job is to get stops, create turnovers and create momentum for the offense," Clemson safety Nolan Turner, who added his third interception of the season, said after the game. "It's just great to see guys just coming up and making big plays in the second half like Bresee's big sack and Booth's scoop and score, I mean that's the biggest point of the game."

Booth's fumble return extended Clemson's lead to double digits. A Mike Jone's Jr. interception would lead to another short field for the Clemson offense to score a fourth quarter touchdown.

"I thought our mindset going in was good," Venables said. "I thought our guys came ready to play. I think we need to be sharper on some parts of our gameplan but one of the biggest plays of the game was that scoop and score there."

For the second consecutive week, the secondary gave up a long touchdown pass, but Venables took the blame for the breakdown against the Orange Saturday.

"I should have been a little more conservative there, then we had guys getting lined up late," Venables said. "I put them in a stressful call, just trying to make something happen. It's a tough call, a tough matchup, I just need to be a little more patient as a play caller."

One number that dropped this week was the number of sacks by the Clemson defense. The Tigers were averaging nearly five sacks per game coming into Saturday but managed just two against the Orange.

"They were getting rid of the ball really ,really quick and otherwise they were in 'max protection' so unless you're running some kind of overload blitz, even then he's taking it and launching it so I think that's by design on their part," Venables said. "I think they finished 10-of-26 so that's pretty good."

Venables said he will praise the correct, but there are still things to correct before the Tigers face Boston College next week.

"We got a bunch of good teaching moments," Venables said.