Clemson Tigers

Brian Kelly, Dabo Swinney latest to deny interest in Florida opening

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Since Will Muschamp was officially dismissed as Florida’s head coach — even though he’ll continue to coach the Gators for the rest of this season — multiple high-profile head coaches already denied any interest in the opening.

It started with Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops. Stoops, who is the favorite in Las Vegas to eventually claim the job, quickly squashed any rumors a day after Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley made his decision.

“All I want to be is a candidate at Oklahoma,” Stoops said during a conference call Monday. “I’m not a candidate anywhere else. I’m finished with that question.”

A 69-year-old Steve Spurrier isn’t making a triumphant return to Gainesville either.

Auburn’s Gus Malzahn followed suit Tuesday by saying he was “totally committed” to the Tigers program, per Al.com.

Two more denials came Friday.

Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly joked about the possibility of leaving South Bend for sunny Florida.

“I’m going to Florida — in about two weeks to get some sun,” Kelly told WNDU.com. “I’m getting out of here with this weather. What are you, kidding me? So you can write that down. I’m going to Florida. Write it down now, get it out there get it on the news waves.”

When reporters followed Kelly’s sarcastic response with a direct question about the coach’s interest in Florida, the Notre Dame coach continued to lay it on thick.

“Oh yeah. I’ve been interested in the Florida job,” Kelly said. “What else am I up for anything else? Can I be up for the Notre Dame job? Because we are 7-3 right now, [and] I’m hoping to hold on to this job.”

Clemson’s Dabo Swinney was more direct with his answer regarding any interest in the opening.

“The more you sit around and talk about that kind of stuff, the more of a distraction it is,” Swinney said. “I love my job. I just signed a long-term contract because of that. And this is a place that’s special to me. And I’ve invested a lot here. My focus is 100 percent on winning here.”

Two reasons prompt these blanket denials.

First, no coach is going to express interest in the middle of the season. It’s detrimental to his team’s progress on the field and recruiting off of it.

Second, Florida is no longer considered one of the elite jobs. It’s close, but it doesn’t fall in the same category as Alabama, Ohio State or Texas anymore.

“If those elite jobs are a 10, Florida is a 9.5,” a source told USA TODAY.

Despite being in a talent-rich state as one of the highest-profile programs in the nation, Florida has fallen behind in regards to facilities. It’s still a desirable job, but it’s not quite as enticing for these top coaches as it used to be.

Duke Blue Devils remain the class of the ACC Coastal by default

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With the results of two games early Saturday afternoon, the fate of three teams in Atlantic Coast Conference were greatly affected.

First and foremost, the No. 22 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets were arguably the least talked about team in college football despite an impressive 9-2 record.

Georgia Tech dominated the No. 19 Clemson Tigers Saturday. The Yellow Jackets’ offense amassed 353 total yards during the 28-6 victory.

The Yellow Jackets were aided by an injury to Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson, who reportedly tore an ACL during the game, and backup signal-caller Cole Stoudt tossing a pair of interceptions that were returned for touchdowns.

Meanwhile, Clemson’s loss officially handed the ACC Atlanta division to the No. 3 Florida State Seminoles — although, it was more of a formality than anything else.

As Georgia Tech dominated all phases of the game against Clemson, Paul Johnson‘s squad positioned itself well within the ACC. The Yellow Jackets finished their conference schedule with a 6-2 record and only the rival Georgia Bulldogs still on the docket this season.

Despite Georgia Tech’s impressive performance, the Duke Blue Devils still own the lead in the ACC Coastal division.

However, Duke only retains the lead in the ACC Coastal due to tie-breakers after losing to the Virginia Tech Hokies 17-16. The Blue Devils had a chance to move 5-1 in the conference, but junior kicker Ross Martin missed the potential game-winning field goal attempt with less than three minutes remaining in the contest.

With the loss, Duke is now 4-2 in conference play with games against the North Carolina Tar Heels and the Wake Forest Demon Deacons still on the schedule. David Cutcliffe‘s squad can’t trip up over the next two weeks or Georgia Tech will earn a trip to the ACC Championship Game.

The Miami Hurricanes at 3-2 in the conference are still alive as well and could technically win the ACC Coastal, but a meeting with the Seminoles Saturday night will make that a difficult proposition.

Overall, Georgia Tech became the biggest winner in the ACC Saturday, while Duke is hanging on for dear life atop the ACC Coastal standings.

Clemson’s new weapon at WR carries No. 21 Tigers to 34-20 victory over Wake Forest

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Clemson quarterbacks have had the luxury of throwing passes to Sammy Watkins, DeAndre Hopkins and Martavis Bryant in recent years. Freshman Artavis Scott is the program’s new emerging star.

Scott proved to be the deciding factor Thursday night with eight catches for 122 yards and a pair of touchdown receptions as the No. 21 Clemson Tigers claimed a 34-20 victory over the Wake Forest Demon Deacons. The second touchdown was pivotal with the game tied 20-20 in the fourth quarter.

The freshman pulled a Watkins by scoring a long touchdown on a fly sweep. After Wake Forest kicker Mike Weaver converted a 31-yard field goal, Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris decided to get the ball into the hands of the team’s top play-maker. Scott raced around the Tigers’ right tackle on his way to a 66-yard touchdown romp.

It was the knockout blow for a Clemson squad that allowed a struggling Wake Forest program to hang around for far too long.

Scott wasn’t the only freshman to come up big in the game. Running back Wayne Gallman carried the ball 19 times for 106 yards and a touchdown. Gallman also got the offense on track in the second quarterback with a beautifully timed screen pass for 18 yards that resulted in the Tigers’ first touchdown.

The Tigers will have to continue to lean on these talented underclassmen since senior quarterback Cole Stoudt continues to be inconsistent.

Despite the two-score victory, some still weren’t impressed with the effort.

After all, Wake Forest entered the game with college football’s worst offense. Clemson’s talented defense was continually placed in poor situations, and the unit allowed the Demon Deacons to score multiple times despite only managing 122 total yards.

A win is still a win, and Clemson remains one game behind the No. 2 Florida State Seminoles in the ACC Atlantic. It’s a crucial to be the ACC’s No. 2 team to potentially earn a New Year’s bowl berth with Florida State expected to make the first College Football Playoff. That spot could belong to Clemson if the Tigers continue to find ways to win.

No. 21 Clemson Tigers struggle in first half against hapless Demon Deacons

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If the uniforms were stripped of the two teams playing Thursday night, no one would know which one of them was ranked in the Top 25.

Despite owning college football’s worst offense, the 2-6 Wake Forest Demon Deacons are tied 17-17 with the No. 21 Clemson Tigers at halftime.

Both teams benefited from special teams miscues, but it was the play of Wake Forest cornerback Kevin Johnson that stood out.

Johnson’s interception in the first quarter set up the the Demon Deacons’ initial touchdown. Later in the second quarter, the senior defensive back recovered a muffed punt that led to Wake Forest’s second touchdown of the first half.

This is a program that only averages 14.8 points per game. Statistically, Wake Forest is the worst offense in college football. Yet, they’re tied with a nationally-ranked program.

Despite having a lead, Clemson has to be concerned. It took a late touchdown pass from Clemson quarterback Cole Stoudt to freshman Artavis Scott to clinch the Tigers’ first lead of the contest.

The Demon Deacons only have 79 yards of total offense. But their play-calling has been aggressive on both sides of the ball. It wasn’t until Stoudt found running back Wayne Gallman on a screen pass to counter Wake Forest’s blitzes that Clemson finally found the end zone.

Clemson couldn’t move the ball in the first quarter.

But Stoudt and the offense started to gain their footing in the second half with 129 yards. The Tigers are clearly the more talented team. If the defense continues to rattle Wake Forest quarterback John Wolford, then Wake Forest shouldn’t be able to score another point. Meanwhile, Clemson’s offense looks to be getting on track.

Dave Clawson‘s coaching staff can’t hold back with its play-calling in the second half if they plan to muster the biggest win of their season. It may be an uphill battle, but the Demon Deacons are in position to surprise the Tigers if they make a couple plays late in the game.

None shall pass: Clemson Tigers hold on for a 23-17 victory over Louisville Cardinals

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The Clemson Tigers (4-2) defeated the Louisville Cardinals (5-2) Saturday without a single offensive score. A goal line stand proved to be the difference as the Tigers claimed the 23-17 victory.

Bobby Petrino‘s Cardinals had a chance to steal the victory, but Dabo Swinney‘s defense remained stout. With less than a minute remaining in the contest, the Cardinals had the ball at Clemson’s 8-yard line. Louisville gained seven yards on first down. But Clemson was able to hold over the next three downs from the 1-yard line to ensure the win.

In total, Clemson’s defense surrendered 212 total yards. And 73 of those yards came on a pass from Louisville quarterback Will Gardner to wide receiver James Quick just prior to the goal line stand.

The defense was led by defensive end Vic Beasley, who set a new Clemson record with 29 career sacks to pass Gaines Adams and Michael Dean Perry.

Clemson’s scoring came courtesy of the defense and special teams. Senior wide receiver Adam Humphries struck first a 72-yard punt return for a touchdown. Senior defensive end Grady Jarrett scored the second touchdown by recovering a fumble in the end zone. And Clemson kicker Ammon Lakip was 3-of-3 in field goal conversions with a long of 45 yards.

Swinney and his staff will need for their defense to remain strong in the coming weeks.

Senior quarterback Cole Stoudt is set to take over starting duties once again after freshman Deshaun Watson broke a bone in his throwing hand during the first half. Stoudt was 20-of-33 passing for 162 yards and a touchdown during the relief appearance.

Watson’s season may not be over, though.

Clemson’s schedule presents three winnable games over the next three weeks with the Boston College Eagles, Syracuse Orange and Wake Forest Demon Deacons next in line. Clemson’s defense will give the Tigers an edge in each of those contests.