On Saturday night, No. 6 Clemson throttled South Carolina State 49-3. Although the competition was not as steep as last week, the Tigers seemed to have better continuity on offense and continued to have a stifling defense.
After suffering a loss to Georgia last week, the Tigers started the game with a sense of urgency with a nine-play 72-yard drive. That drive compiled 56 rushing yards and ended with a 4-yard rushing touchdown by quarterback DJ Uiagalelei.
The rushing attack did not stop there, as Clemson continued to run the ball on the ground throughout and finished with 242 team rushing yards. Of the seven touchdowns scored by Clemson, five came on the ground.
“That was something we needed to do, and get the confidence going. You know I wanted to see [Kobe Pace] and [Will Shipley] get a lot of touches,” said Head Coach Dabo Swinney after the game.
Leading that rushing attack was freshman running back Shipley, who had a team-high 80 rushing yards on eight attempts. Shipley also scored two touchdowns, the first of which was his first career touchdown which came off a 7-yard run.
Defensively, Clemson carried over their lockdown defense from last Saturday against Georgia. Although South Carolina State had some explosive gains on offense, Clemson’s defense forced the Bulldogs to be 2-16 on third-down andkept them out of the endzone.
Meanwhile, on offense, Uiagalelei finished 14-24 with 171 passing yards, one passing touchdown, and one interception. He looked more composed than last week but still missed on some throws, one of which was a severe overthrow to a wide-open Justyn Ross in the endzone.
One of the more impressive performances was by Clemson’s return game. Shipley contributed with two kick returns for an average return of 24 yards, and freshman Will Taylor had a 51-yard punt return in the first quarter, which set up a passing touchdown from Uiagalelei to Ross and gave the Tigers a 28-0 lead.
Ross’ touchdown was his first of the season and his first since returning from a season-long absence due to injury.
“Awesome to see Justyn Ross come back. He had a really good day… really special to see him get in the end zone,” said Swinney.
Ross, along with his teammates, will look to build on Saturday’s win next week against Georgia Tech. Kicking off at 3:30 p.m. in Clemson, Memorial Stadium is set to have another electric atmosphere with a full-capacity crowd.