A common theme between Clemson coach Dabo Swinney and quarterback Trevor Lawrence was the team left a lot on the field offensively on a rare day when a consistent running game was hard to find.
Clemson rushed 18 times for only 46 yards in the first half and entered the final quarter with 84 on 26 attempts before finishing with 121 on 33 rushes, a mere 3.7 yard average. After topping 400 rushing yards a week earlier, when star Travis Etienne carried just 12 times for 205 yards, top-ranked Clemson was a lot more one-dimensional in Saturday’s 24-10 win over No. 12 Texas A&M.
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“I think early on we had some run schemes we were doing up front we thought were going to be there and they did a good job of kind of taking those away,” co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott said. “So we had to go a little more into the run-pass option (RPO) and once we got settled in and really started letting Trevor make some decisions he did a really good job controlling that with our RPO’s and then we did hand it off when we started getting some of those two-safety looks.”
Swinney added, “We left a lot of meat on the bone and just didn’t make some plays earlier on, but I thought from the second quarter on we got control of the game.”
Lawrence didn’t post the kind of mindboggling stats he’s been known to do when needing to get it done mostly through the air, although he was extremely accurate through much of the first 40 minutes of the game and wasn’t helped by some drops by his receivers on nicely thrown balls. Lawrence both threw and ran for only one touchdown for the second consecutive week and completed 24 of 35 passing for 268 yards with an interception.
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Justyn Ross caught a career-high seven passes for 94 yards and a 30-yard touchdown when he got behind the defense after Lawrence did a terrific job extending a play by eluding the rush and scrambling to his left. Tee Higgins caught four passes for 70 yards and Etienne had career-highs of four catches and 52 yards.
“Trevor started scrambling so I had to find a way to get open and if you’re open he’s going to find you and I was so happy to be in the end zone,” Ross said. “We knew coming in they would be tough against the run and we were prepared and ready to throw the ball around. It just shows how much of a team we are because many times when a team is going back and forth and not scoring they will give up but not us. We just kept on going.”
Lawrence was 16 of 20 for 188 yards and was sacked twice in the first half. He played a season-low 16 snaps at Texas A&M last season while Ross only played one so both players wanted a greater piece of the action against a team that gave them arguably their toughest test last year.
“Anytime you’re playing a tough team like that it’s a great win,” Lawrence said. “I feel like we left a lot out there really, but we played and executed well and winning was the biggest thing. Last year we kind of left some doubt (against them) and some people felt we were lucky to come out with a win and this year we wanted to leave no doubt.”
This article is written by Eric Boynton from Spartanburg Herald-Journal and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.