Overreactions to one half of football in the first half of the season opener are often times misguided, but it was hard not to like what Clemson fans witnessed from their new starting quarterback, Kelly Bryant. But after a fast start in the first quarter with 21 points scored by the defending national champions, Clemson is holding a lead of just 28-3 at the half against Kent State.
Bryant ended the first half having completed 14 of 20 passes for 178 yards, with 61 of them coming on this deep pass to Deon Cain for a touchdown.
And yes, he is even quite cordial to the referees, as evidenced by this moment at the end of a play.
Bryant has also impressed with his running abilities as well, as he currently leads all players with 77 rushing yards and a touchdown. All things considered, this has been a fine start to the season for the Tigers after just one half of play. While a handful of top 10 teams had questionable first halves in their openers, Clemson has been just dandy.
Down 14-0 in the second quarter and stuck starting an offensive series from their own 13-yard line, Clemson needed to make some big plays happen. They did just that. Three plays highlighted the much-needed seven-play drive that ended in the end zone with Deshaun Watson finding a path for a touchdown to cut into the Alabama lead in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game.
It began with a 44-yard catch-and-run from Watson to Deon Cain…
A few plays later, Watson connected over the middle of the field with Jordan Leggett for a 26-yard gain to move into the red zone for the first time in the game…
Watson would finish the drove off with an eight-yard touchdown run a couple of plays later…
Clemson really needed that score, and it helped to give the defense a little bit of a rest after having Bo Scarbrough break off a pair of long touchdown runs on them in the first half.
A failed drug test just before the Orange Bowl College Football Playoff semifinal against Oklahoma sent Clemson wide receiver Deon Cain home from Miami. After missing two playoff games and sitting out for the spring, Cain will return to the team and begin preparing to return to the field for the 2016 season, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said today.
Swinney, on hand for the ACC coaches spring meetings, said Cain has served his time and will be available for Clemson’s fall camp.
Swinney previously suggested he was not worried about Cain getting back into shape for the season once he eventually returned. Swinney’s biggest concern appeared to simply being able to get Cain grounded mentally to focus on staying on the right track off the field.
“I really don’t need to see him run a comeback, to be honest with you,” Swinney said. “I am not worried about the football side of Deon Cain. The football side of Deon Cain is going to be special if I can get him dialed in on other things that really are more important.”
The defending ACC champion Clemson Tigers stepped back on the football practice field Monday afternoon ready to dig deep and put in the work needed to take the final step toward winning a national championship. The Tigers fell just shy of topping Alabama in the College Football Playoff national championship game last month and began putting in a year’s worth of work toward getting back to that national stage. They opened spring practice with some encouraging news regarding wide receiver Mike Williams, who was cleared to practice with the team.
“He is going to do everything,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said, per TigerNet.com. “We are just not going to tackle him to the ground. He is going to do all the 1 on 1’s, all the skelly, all the team pass. He is going to do everything we do. We are just not going to tackle him so we when we go scrimmage he will not scrimmage.”
Williams is coming off a small fracture in his neck that was suffered in Clemson’s 2015 season-opener against Wofford. He crashed into a goal post as he was making a touchdown grab and the injury put him on the sideline for the remainder of the regular season. A return for Clemson’s College Football Playoff run was under consideration, but Williams made the decision it was best to hold off a comeback until the following season. Swinney and the Clemson staff will continue to proceed with caution with Williams, but Swinney is clearly optimistic about the status of Clemson’s leading receiver from 2014 for the upcoming season.
“If we were playing this spring he could play, but really we just want to kind of get his confidence back where it needs to be and when we get back in camp he will be full go.”
Swinney also provided an update on the status of another wide receiver. Deon Cain, who was suspended by the program after a failed drug test last December, will not go through spring football practices. He will, however, join in team meetings and workouts. He will attend practices, but not compete in a physical fashion.
“I really don’t need to see him run a comeback, to be honest with you,” Swinney said, again per TigerNet.com. “I am not worried about the football side of Deon Cain. The football side of Deon Cain is going to be special if I can get him dialed in on other things that really are more important.”
Clemson opens the 2016 season on the road at Auburn on September 3. Clemson’s spring game is scheduled for April 9.
The No. 1 Clemson Tigers (9-0, 6-0 ACC) took one giant step closer to a possible spot in the College Football Playoff. The path to the playoff will have to take a quick stop in Charlotte, because Clemson will stopping there to play in the ACC Championship Game at the end of the season regardless of what happens in the next three weeks. Clemson wrapped up possession of the ACC Atlantic Division with a 23-13 victory Saturday over nemesis and rival Florida State.
Clemson took its second lead of the game midway through the fourth quarter when Greg Huegel kicked his third field goal of the game, this latest one from 34 yards out for a 16-13 lead. The only touchdown of the game for Clemson came in the third quarter, with Deon Cain taking a short pass from Deshaun Watson 38 yards to the house for a 13-10 lead on the first drive of the second half. The defense then was asked to come up with a huge stop after a good special teams return by Florida State’s Kermit Whitfield gave the Seminoles possession at the Clemson 49-yard line. Clemson’s defense answered the call, stuffing Florida State’s Dalvin Cook for no gain on fourth down at the Clemson 40-yard line, one years shy of the first down marker. That set up Clemson for the knockout blow, which was delivered by Wayne Gallman by way of a 25-yard rushing touchdown up the middle of the field on Florida State’s defense. The touchdown run came one play after Watson completed a seven-yard pass to Charone Peake to pick up a third down conversion. The final nail in the coffin for the Seminoles came on the ensuing possession when Ben Boulware forced the ball out of the hands of Travis Rudolph, which Clemson recovered.
Clemson had to battle back to get the win, as the Tigers got off to a sluggish start against Florida State. The Seminoles took an early lead on the second play fo the game when Cook rattled off a 75-yard touchdown run, and eclipsed the 100-yard mark on the second possession of the game just minutes later. But Clemson managed to tighten up as the game played out, and Cook was without a big run for most of the night after the first five minutes of the game. Cook ended his day with 194 yards and the one touchdown.
This was the first time Clemson won a football game as the number one team in the country since the 1981 season. That season the Tigers were ranked number one in the AP top 25 after playing the final game of the regular season and defeated Nebraska in the 1982 Orange Bowl. That makes this the first time Clemson won a game in the regular season as the top-ranked team in program history.
Florida State has one remaining ACC contest to play before closing out the regular season with two non-conference games. Next week the Seminoles host North Carolina State. Clemson will hit the road next week to visit Syracuse. The Tigers wrap up ACC regular season play the next week at home against Wake Forest.