Monday Review: Clemson's Offense

Zach Lentz

The Clemson Tigers record-setting offense took their show on the road Saturday, in the Tigers' 73-7 win at Georgia Tech.

As of Sunday, the Tigers currently rank first in total points this season (242), third in scoring offense (48.4 ppg)—with No. 1 Texas and No.2 Alabama having played one less game than the Tigers. The Tigers rank 10th in passing offense (348 ypg), third in passing touchdowns (17) and eighth in total offense (530.6 ypg).

Looking back at Saturday's game against the Yellow Jackets:

  • Clemson’s 73 points tied that 1903 contest for its most against Georgia Tech in a game in series history.
  • Clemson’s 73 points represent Clemson’s third-most against an ACC opponent all-time, trailing its 82-point performance against Wake Forest in 1981 and its 77 points against Louisville in 2018. However, both of those performances came at home, so Saturday’s output was the most scored by Clemson in an ACC road game all-time, passing its 63 at Wake Forest in 2018.
  • Clemson reached the 70-point mark for the 10th time in school history. The 73 points are tied for the seventh-most in a game in school history.
  • Clemson’s 73 points tied for Clemson’s second-most points in a road game in school history, trailing its 94 against Furman in 1915 and matching its 73 at Georgia Tech in 1903.
  • Clemson opened the game with a modern-era school-record 52 points in the first half. Clemson’s previous high against an ACC opponent in a first half was 49 in its opening two frames against Wake Forest in its national championship campaign in 1981.
  • Clemson produced 473 yards in the first half, only 14 yards shy of the school record for yards in a half (487 vs. Duke in 2012).
  • Clemson has now scored at least 37 points in each of its first five games, opening a season with five consecutive games of 37 points or more for the first time in school history.
  • Clemson has now won each of its first five games of a season by at least 18 points for the third time in school history, joining the 1929 and 2000 seasons. It is the third time since 2000 that an ACC team has opened a season with five straight wins of 18 points or more, joining the 2000 Tigers and the 2004 Virginia Cavaliers.
  • Clemson tied a school record for points in a quarter with 35 in the second quarter, matching its second quarter against Wake Forest in 1981 and its third quarter against North Carolina in 2011.
  • Clemson gained 671 total yards, ninth-most in school history and its most since a 702-yard effort against Wofford last season. The 671 yards are Clemson’s most against Georgia Tech all-time, surpassing its 632 yards against Georgia Tech last season.
  • Clemson threw seven passing touchdowns, breaking the school record of six set previously against Central Michigan in 2007, against Duke in 2012, against North Carolina in 2014 and against South Carolina in 2016.
  • Clemson finished with 500 passing yards, its second-most in a single game all-time behind its record 580 passing yards against Pitt in 2016. The total represents Clemson’s most passing yards in a victory and its most passing yards in a road game in school history. Clemson completed passes to 17 different receivers in reaching that total.

Even with the bevy of record-breaking stats and accomplishments, according to head coach Dabo Swinney the most impressive thing was the Tigers' third-down offense.

'"Offensively it was just a special day. An incredible, explosive day," Swinney said. "Probably to me the stat of the game offensively was we played four quarterbacks and 17 different guys caught a pass. We were 33-of-49 for 67 percent with four quarterbacks, one of them being our punter. To me, that speaks to our preparation." 

The Tigers were also an incredible 8-of-8 in the red zone and the much-maligned, and sometimes criticized, second-string offensive line even drew the praise of the head coach.

"That backup OL got better," Swinney said. "We still got a ways to go with that group, but when we subbed early in the season, we stalled out. Yesterday we continued to play well and it starts with those guys up front." 

If there was an area of concern they would be the drops by Frank Ladson Jr. However, Swinney believes it is a confidence issue that they hope to correct.

"Frank is a young player playing a big role for the first time. And he's done well. It's just going to be repetition," Swinney said. "You get back in the batter's box and you rep that particular play because it's really been the same play-- over-the-shoulder ball down the field, where he has made some (plays) but he's got to be more consistent there.

"We've got to build that confidence in practice. Lots and lots of reps. He'll be fine. The positive is one bad play hasn't led to three more bad ones. He obviously had a big drop vs. Miami and comes back and makes a big play. Same thing this past week. That was a play he needs to make to open the game there, and he ran right by the guy ... but he comes back and we get a corner blitz and he makes the right adjustment and goes up and gets it. He made a big third-down conversion on a slant. So he bounced back. That's good to see."

If there is one bright spot for Ladson, it is the fact that he has shown the ability to make the incredible catch look easy.

"To be honest with you, the ones he's had the most difficulty with have been the lay-ups when he's been by himself, kind of nobody around him," Swinney said. "And that's where he's just got to really focus and finish with his eyes. We've got to really create the repetition in practice to get his confidence where it needs to be on those plays. It's the easiest ones that can be the hardest sometimes. But he'll be fine. A young player just kind of growing up." 

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