CLEMSON — Midway through the third quarter Saturday, Dabo Swinney and senior defensive back Xavier Brewer engaged in what can only be called an animated – and one-sided – discussion.
Defense has 'a lot of work to do'
Moments earlier, Clemson’s defense had Furman in a second and 33 at its own 25, only to have Brewer play off receiver Ryan Culbreath, giving up a 33-yard gain that erased the Paladins’ hole and sent Swinney into a rage.
“He’s a fifth-year senior. It’s second and 33. You can only imagine what we were talking about,” Swinney said. “If he plays off 15 yards, makes the tackle, it’s third and 18. It’s not smart. A really poor play, and he’s one of our smartest players.”
That moment shows why Swinney and defensive coordinator Brent Venables are a bit uneasy about the Tigers’ defense entering next week’s likely top-10 showdown at ACC favorite Florida State.
Clemson did good things – like holding Furman to 2-of-14 third down conversions- but also struggled with big plays, giving up plays of 33, 37 and 39 yards and allowing the Paladins to hold the ball for 38:19.
“The group has made mistakes, but we’ve got a bunch of guys playing and we’re trying to figure out the best combination,” Swinney said. “There’s a lot of things we have going on in the secondary, with our linebackers, up front, but at the end of the day we’ve got quality people. We’ve got a chance to be really good but we’ve got to take the next step with knowledge, learn and apply it to game day. How quickly we do it will determine the type of season we have.”
Boyd moves up: With his two touchdown passes Saturday, Tajh Boyd moved into second place on Clemson’s all-time touchdown pass list. Boyd now has 43, six behind Charlie Whitehurst, who threw 49 from 2002-05.
Saturday, Boyd passed Cullen Harper, who had 42 from 2005-08, as well as Woody Dantzler, who had 41 from 1998-2001.
He also passed Kyle Parker for fifth place on the Tigers’ all-time passing yardage list. He has five career 300-yard passing games; only Whitehurst has more, with eight.
Cat-man kicks into record book: Junior kicker Chandler Catanzaro kicked a pair of first-half field goals and found his way into the Clemson record book.
His 22-yard field goal with 1:21 left in the half was his 14th consecutive field goal, dating back to last season’s ACC Atlantic Division-clinching win over Wake Forest. It is tied for the longest field goal streak in program history; Obed Ariri hit 14 in a row in 1980.
“We all remember a couple years ago how bad he was as a freshman,” Swinney said. “It’s a great lesson for everybody, media, coaches, fans, players, that freshmen get better. Just because a guy is not a great player as a freshman doesn’t mean we missed on him as a recruit.
“….I can’t say enough about Chandler Catanzaro, the most accurate outside 40 yards in Clemson history. He’s not going to be perfect but he’s not going to miss many when we get down there.”
Willard sits: Starting senior “Will” linebacker Jonathan Willard didn’t dress Saturday while nursing a sprained shoulder. He had started the first two games, making 11 tackles and a sack. Fellow senior Corico Wright started in his place.
Williams, Shatley leave: Two Clemson linemen left Saturday’s game with leg injuries. Sophomore defensive tackle DeShawn Williams limped off with a right foot injury; he spent the rest of the first half with an ice bag taped to his foot. Junior right guard Tyler Shatley left with an ankle injury; Swinney said both could have returned to the game.
Morris: Clemson offense off to a strong start
Sophomore right tackle Gifford Timothy didn’t start after missing the Ball State game with lingering knee soreness, but entered the game in the second half. Redshirt freshman right tackle Shaq Anthony, a Wren alum, received his second consecutive start there. Sophomore left guard David Beasley, who left last week with a sprained knee ligament, was also held out, with fellow sophomore Kalon Davis making his first career start. Sophomore tailback D.J. Howard also sat out with a shoulder bruise.
“We could have had all those guys, but we chose not to have any setbacks and have all hands on board when we load the plane going to Tallahassee,” Swinney said.
Hopkins moves forward: Junior wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins moved into ninth place on the program’s all-time receiving list with 95 yards Saturday, passing Brian Wofford.
He is two receptions behind Perry Tuttle for fifth place on the program’s all-time reception list.