Clemson overwhelms undermanned Maryland
CLEMSON — To avoid a letdown against injury-depleted Maryland on Saturday, Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris spent some time last week talking to his players about the early days of August.
Morris was concerned overconfidence might be an issue for the 10th-ranked Tigers against an opponent that entered the game a 32-point underdog.
So in order to eliminate any complacency, Morris asked his team to think back to training camp.
“If you look back at August 1st there was a newness, everybody was excited to get out to practice, to get through training camp and then to that first game,” Morris said.
“We asked everyone to reflect and look back at when the newness was still there. What were the goals you had set for yourself?”
Whether the motivational tool had a tangible effect is hard to know. But what was evident was Clemson (9-1, 6-1 ACC) did not play like a team that was bored or overlooking an overmatched Maryland (4-6, 2-4) opponent Saturday.
The Tigers won their 12th straight home game, a team record. They also scored 35 first-half points for the third straight game, another Clemson record.
Clemson’s first two touchdowns — an Adam Humphries first-quarter touchdown catch and a Corey Crawford fumble return — came 12 seconds apart, also a program record for shortest span between touchdowns.
Clemson outgained Maryland, 436 to 180 yards, and that was without its starters playing much of the second half.
Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said he wasn’t worried about his team overlooking Maryland (4-6, 2-4) because the culture of the program has changed.
“There is no doubt we came ready to play,” Swinney said. “Our players are excited to play every week because we practice the right way.”
Morris said the biggest different between this November and last November is a change in mindset: Clemson is having fun.
“I think that’s the No. 1 thing you see,” Morris said. “(Last season) there was so much pressure, everyone was gripping it so tight, just waiting for the wheels to come off. This group has been there and done that. They are having fun.”
The wheels did come off last season when Clemson lost four of its final six games.
Clemson and quarterback Tajh Boyd — who completed 18 of 26 passes for 261 yards and three touchdowns in just over two quarters — are having fun and not taking success for granted this season.
“I don’t believe there are too many people that can stop us. As you can see, we stop ourselves sometimes,” Boyd said, referring to three lost fumbles Saturday.
“Heading to the week of practice, coaches don’t let us get complacent. Not even to a point. We have to keep building and keep working.”