CLEMSON – Welcome to a halftime blog which went through a bunch of different ledes.
First, it was: “The defense showed up for Clemson, but no one else.”
Then, it was: “It’s ugly for the Tigers, but other teams across the country are looking ugly as well.”
After that, it was: “Appalachian State came to play, but interceptions are saving the Tigers.”
Finally, we go with, “That was the ugliest awesome half you’ve ever seen.”
Mainly, it was a tale of two quarters. Clemson stumbled into a 3-0 lead after 15 minutes, then exploded for four touchdowns in the second period for the team’s highest-scoring quarter since 2013.
Although momentum and injuries were against No. 12 Clemson early Saturday afternoon, the Tigers are breathing easier into the locker room with a 31-0 lead over the Mountaineers.
Clemson leads the yardage battle 280-88, which doesn’t quite reflect how inconsistent its offense has been and how ferocious its defense has been.
-Pick your coolest story of the day: Charone Peake or Carlos Watkins?
Peake, now the main deep threat in Clemson’s offense with Mike Williams shelved for a while, and coming off chronic leg issues, has his first career multi-TD game. He has four grabs for 86 yards (also a career high), and caught a 59-yard bomb dot com from Deshaun Watson.
No, seriously: Watson was standing on his own 38-yard-line when he released the ball, and Peake was at the Mountaineers’ 3-yard-line when he caught it. That’s 59 yards in the air. Schnikes.
But was that more impressive than the 15-yard pick-six for the 6-3, 300-pound fella normally clogging the middle of the line of scrimmage.
On Sept. 21, 2013, Carlos Watkins was in a fatal car accident that took the life of his cousin, and badly bruised Watkins’ legs as the then-sophomore was trapped in the vehicle for more than an hour. His season was over.
On Sept. 12, 2015, Carlos Watkins dropped into zone coverage, picked off a third-down throw by Taylor Lamb, and bounded in for a 15-yard interception return for a touchdown.
- Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables had his men ready from the word ‘go.’ Three-and-outs for the first three drives, which gained a total of 19 yards. On the fourth drive, Clemson cornerback Cordrea Tankersley was flagged for pass interference and App State running back Terrence Upshaw gained 27 yards on a bubble screen, but the Tigers broke back when linebacker Ben Boulware flushed Lamb from the pocket and forced a Lamb interception in the end zone by safety Jayron Kearse (his seventh career pick.)
Boulware later grabbed his third career interception.
- Taylor Lamb, the highest-rated passer in the Sun Belt Conference a year ago: 5-for-17, 59 yards, 3 INT.
-Some halftime scores today worth noting from around college football: Jacksonville State 10, No. 6 Auburn 6 ... South Florida 7, No. 11 Florida State 7 ... Louisville 14, Houston 10 ... Michigan 17, Oregon State 7, though the Wolverines trailed 7-3 after a quarter.
- Wayne Gallman’s the best running back on this team, and it’s not close. Thirteen carries for 73 yards and a bulldozing 23-yard score, punctuated by him trucking safety Alex Gray ... which was a bit of payback from Gray yanking Watson’s face mask earlier in the drive.
- Jordan Leggett got involved in the passing game early, and has three catches for 29 yards. Progress at the tight end position!
- Hunter Renfrow also has a couple catches, both for first downs.
- Devan Stringer, longtime friend of Deshaun Watson, was credited with a QB pressure in the second quarter when he nearly got the sack of Watson. Stringer tapped Watson’s helmet, but didn’t help him off the ground before retreating to his side of the line of scrimmage.
- Bad day for the Clemson centers. Ryan Norton had a wayward snap go over Watson’s head, causing Watson to get his bell rung (he left and returned for and after one play.) Norton also suffered some sort of injury that briefly sent him to the locker room.
Meanwhile, second-teamer Jay Guillermo had a holding call that erased a Gallman touchdown (Gallman would score on the next play, but still), and has been beaten up the middle a couple times.
- Appalachian State’s return game isn’t that hot. Clemson’s coverage has been poor.