At high noon on Saturday in Death Valley, the Clemson Tigers returned home to attempt to break their three game losing streak against Ralph Fridgeon and the Maryland Terrapins. The Tigers efforts were not in vain however, coming away with a 31-7 win over Maryland. The Tigers have thus broken their three game losing streak.
Clemson entered the game with several key changes for the better. First came the declaration of Andre Ellington as the No. 1 feature back and allowing him more touches. Next came the reduction of Marcus Gilchrist's role as a returner on special teams. An unfortunate injury to true freshman Deandre Hopkins resulted in him not playing on Saturday—a concern given the recent struggles in the passing game.
But, Clemson had no need to worry. Despite the changes, Clemson was able to come away with a great performance by the Tigers, especially on defense and special teams. Several players stepped up their game on either offense, defense or special teams and may look to be called upon again in these positions through practice and on Saturday.
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the day was the emergence of Jaron Brown in Hopkins' absence. The 6'2" red-shirt sophomore stepped it up on not only offense but also on special teams, being the primary punt returner of the day. Brown also made a crucial long catch along the sideline to set up a Clemson touchdown.
Brown filled in nicely as the main punt returner due to Gilchrist's larger role on defense and Hopkins' absence. He had a long punt return to set up a Clemson score as well. If Clemson can say one thing after two weeks, it's that Brown is definitely emerging as a prime target next to Deandre Hopkins.
The red-shirt sophomore did not disappoint in terms of big play ability and showed Death Valley why he was declared the main feature back, scoring a rushing touchdown and channeling a little Spiller by taking a kick off return 87 yards for a touchdown. Ellington is definitely a mainstay on the ground and could still see special teams time as a returner.
Ellington did not put up big rushing numbers, only amassing 41 yards on 16 carries, but he did show that he is truly the feature back of this offense. Ellington and Brown, along with the entire special teams unit, were a big game changer for the Tigers.
He's at it again. The rejuvenated, energized defensive end tallied three sacks against the quick passing Maryland in the Tigers best defensive performance yet, allowing only seven points and forcing three turnovers. Daquan Bowers is steadily emerging as one of the leaders of this defense and is having his best season in his junior year at Clemson.
The Bamberg product has been improving with every game, and he has not yet failed to disappoint on defense. Bowers has already tallied nine sacks through six games and is emerging as the leader of a deep, talented defensive line.
With Maryland now gone by and the Tigers getting the "Ralph Fridgeon" off their back, the Tigers stay at home as they host Georgia Tech, where they hope to get the "Paul Johnson" off their back.