After Clemson’s impressive 38-17 victory over Virginia Tech, the Tigers have proven that their defense will be the key to the team’s success going forward.
Quarterback Tajh Boyd threw for a touchdown and ran for two more. Running back Andre Ellington added another score and 96 yards on 19 carries, while Sammy Watkins had 84 receiving yards on eight catches.
The offense accounted for 31 points, but only gained 295 yards, its lowest mark of the year. The difference in this contest was the four turnovers caused by the defense, including an interception by Jonathan Meeks that was returned 74 yards for a touchdown.
It was a timely performance from the beleaguered defense. The only team that the unit held to fewer points this season was Furman, an FBS school.
Clemson’s only loss of the season came against Florida State in a 49-37 shootout, in which the defense allowed the Seminoles to score a touchdown on four consecutive drives at one point during the second half.
Heading into this game, the Tigers ranked 64th in the nation in points allowed, and had given up 99 points in its previous three games.
While the Tigers went 2-1 in these contests, their inability to hold their opponents under 30 points caused serious concern as to what would happen if the offense had a rough day. Against Virginia Tech, the defense proved that it could lead the team to victory.
Going forward, the challenge will be for the defense to continue playing aggressive and forcing turnovers. The explosive playmakers on offense will return to form in future weeks, but the defense must show consistency now.
Clemson has three more ACC games remaining against Duke, Maryland and North Carolina State before ending the regular season against South Carolina. If their defense continues to play like it did against the Hokies, then the Tigers stand an excellent chance of finishing the year with an 11-1 record.