After making very little effort to establish the running game in the season opener against Georgia, Dabo Swinney and the Tigers were determined to not have a repeat performance against S.C. State.
Clemson ran the ball 36 times against the Bulldogs, averaging well over six yards per carry. While most fully expected the Tigers to have success on the ground against an overmatched opponent, Swinney said there were things he saw along the offensive line from a technical standpoint that were much better than they were in the season-opening loss to Georgia.
"The biggest thing that I was looking for, I saw," Swinney said. "A lot of guys graded a winner. Just a lot of fundamental improvement, a lot of technical improvement. We got back to the second level a lot without being touched, and I know we're supposed to do that. Doing it is another thing."
However, as the Tigers now turn their attention towards Georgia Tech, Swinney is still looking for the group to keep improving.
Hopkins Shows Off Moves in First-Half Touchdown for Cardinals
Former Clemson star receiver DeAndre Hopkins scores a 12-yard touchdown, the 65th of his NFL career, on Sunday to held the Arizona Cardinals build a 23-14 halftime lead at the Cleveland Browns.
Odds and Ends: Clemson Opens as Rare ACC Underdog at Pitt
The Clemson Tigers are a 3.5-point underdog in Saturday's 3:30 p.m. game at the high-scoring Pittsburgh Panthers.
What We Learned From Clemson's Escape of Syracuse on Friday Night
Coming out of a 17-14 win, the Clemson Tigers are who they are, aren't playing a clean game and need more recognition on defense.
"We still had a few miscues and we need to correct," Swinney said. "Couple of (missed assignments) where we got the wrong call, weren't on the same page."
With senior running back Lyn-J Dixon not being much of a factor in the offense due to disciplinary reasons, Clemson has been forced to rely on Kobe Pace and Will Shipley to carry the load, with neither having much experience. Pace is just a sophomore that entered the season with just 18 carries and Shipley is a true freshman.
The two combined for just eight carries and 14 yards against Georgia, but against S.C. State, both showed off their potential, combining for 15 carries and 148 yards. Swinney credits the improved play up front, along with the coaching staff doing a better job of sticking with the ground game.
"They got better in their execution, in their techniques, and the fundamentals up front," Swinney said. "And I thought the backs did an awesome job. It's not that the backs didn't do a good job in the first game, we didn't give them much opportunity. But I was proud of everybody involved in the run game."
Want to join in on the discussion? 100% FREE! Interact with fellow Tiger fans and hear directly from publisher Zach Lentz, deputy editor Brad Senkiw and recruiting analyst Jason Priester on any subject. Click here to become a member of the ALL CLEMSON message board community today!