They’re back. The Clemson Tigers finally make their return trip to the great state of Massachusetts since College GameDay in 2018. Trevor Lawrence vs Anthony Brown / EJ Perry. What a time. Dabo Swinney’s team is still riding their winning streak against the Eagles, now up to 11 games, but Jeff Hafley has played Clemson about as well as anyone since he took over. Close but no cigar, but boy, has it been close.
DJ Uiagalelei has started to turn around all of the narratives about him as a passer and emulate what people expected after his brief cameo in 2020. He’s second in the conference in passing yards (1,242) and has thrown 11 touchdowns to only one interception. And is rushing ability has gotten even better. Averaging 4.4 yards per carry, Uiagalelei has three touchdowns and 242 yards on the ground after slimming down a bit in the offseason. He’s coming off one of his best performances against NC State. He throw 70%, took care of the ball, and logged 73 yards rushing against an excellent defense.
The Tigers have scored over 30 points in all five games this season and averaging 41 points-per-game, good for 14th in the country. It’s a major leap from the struggles they had last season.
Running back Will Shipley aka Christian McCaffrey-lite has been playing well despite the average offensive line play ahead of him. He’s at nearly 500 yards from scrimmage with the added receiving threat out of the backfield. Phil Mafah also gets some spells from time to time and has come through with efficient, strong running.
The talent on the outside may not be up to snuff as years past, but still a solid group and the ball is being distributed pretty evenly by DJ. Beaux Collins, Antonio Williams, and Joseph Ngata are all just over 200 yards receiving, and the two tight ends Jake Briningstool and Davis Allen have been a steady presence. The tight ends in particular have been a huge boon, particularly in the red zone (5 touchdowns).
Slightly Hobbled Defense
There’s been a number of injuries on the defensive side for not-Brent Venables’ defense. Stud defensive tackle Bryan Breese will remain out with a medical issue, and ends Xavier Thomas and Justin Foster are out with injury. Still, they held NC State in the check for a vast majority of the game. Myles Murphy’s still kicking though, and he’ll be a handful for the BC offensive line. He has three sacks and a pass deflection so far. Their tackles have been nothing short of dominant. This defensive line can effectively stop most running games, Add in linebackers like Trenton Simpson and Barrett Carter and you have a front that can cause a lot of damage. Simpson’s a top-end talent who’s show improvement in is coverage skill and leading the team in tackles. Carter’s young, but has continue to make his presence known all around the field.
The Clemson secondary was absolutely roasted by Wake Forest two weeks ago, but they’ll be getting some fresh faces back there this time around. Corners Sheridan Jones and Malcom Greene will return after missing last weekend. Andrew Mukuba shifted over from strong safety to cover last week. and the former freshman All-American will continue to do it all in the defensive backfield. He was actually ejected for targeting last week early on, but the rest of the group really stepped up. They had a good game plan in place with safety help for their very young other corners.
Other Team Notes
After a 30-20 win over NC State and a 51-45 overtime thriller at Wake Forest, Clemson remains the class of the conference. They are one of four programs with wins over two Top 25 teams. They travel to FSU after this week, while BC gets a week off. It’s the Red Bandana Game, the second time Clemson has partook. Here’s hoping.