Many expected Clemson Football to win big this past Saturday when they played Wake Forest. Instead, the Tigers snuck by the Deacons 17-12.
The hope was that the offense had worked out its problems and was ready to be a force. Instead, they regressed and had issues with turnovers.
Quarterback Cade Klubnik had a difficult day spotting his open receivers and even when he did see them, he often missed his target.
I answered this honestly.
Mitchell pointed out that I am in a definite minority right now, and he wasn’t wrong.
Some of you must be thinking I have lost my mind right now, and while my family and several of my friends might agree with you, I have a solid reason for still being excited about the Tigers.
Everyone is so down on the offense that the performance of the Tiger defense has been lost in the weeds.
Clemson’s defense is the reason they beat Wake Forest. They are playing very good football right now.
Look at this stat from Phil Steele:
In all fairness, if you back out the FCS opponents, as they do on teamrankings.com, Clemson’s yards per play allowed is 4.3, which puts them at 13th.
Clemson Football can win games with this defense
Here are some more stats.
- Points allowed per game: 19.8 (tied for 30th)
- Opponent yards per game: 299.6 (14th)
- Rushing: 101.2 (22nd)
- Passing: 198.4 (31st)
If you are curious why 22nd in the nation in rushing plus 31st in passing adds up to 14th in total yards, the answer is that a decent number of teams are good in one phase, but not in the other. Clemson has one of the more balanced defenses in the nation.
Defensive coordinator Wes Goodwin has taken his fair share of criticism as the inexperience of the staff has come under fire, but he is quietly having a very good season through the first half of the schedule. Following a lackluster debut against Duke, his side has played very well.
I am fully aware that the Tigers will need their offense to be better for most of the opponents left on their schedule, but the defense is good enough to give this team a chance in every game left, including Miami, Notre Dame, North Carolina, and South Carolina.
Defense is why I am still excited about this team and the balance of this season.