On the Beat: Gallman called out by coaches, responds with punishing hit

Clemson running back Wayne Gallman (9) breaks free from Appalachian State linebacker Eric Boggs (45) in the Tigers’ 41-10 victory Saturday. Gwinn Davis/For The Post and Courier

CLEMSON — That punishing hit at the end of Clemson sophomore tailback Wayne Gallman’s touchdown run Sunday wasn’t by accident.

For one, Gallman wasn’t happy with the offense’s overall performance through most the first half against Appalachian State. He had just had a 13-yard touchdown run negated by a holding call and had an opportunity to punch it in from 23 yards.

“Man, I was mad at the end of the drive,” Gallman said. “I felt like we weren’t awake. There were a couple guys still sleeping. It took a little bit of plays to get us up and get us moving.”

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney also thought Gallman was getting tackled too quickly, particularly when he only had one man to beat.

“It took a little something to get him sparked, so coach challenged him down on the sideline,” co-offensive coordinator and running backs coach Tony Elliott said. “Wayne is the kind of young man who cares about his teammates, he takes pride in his performance and when you challenge him, he’s going to respond. What you like to see is it doesn’t take us challenging him throughout the course of the game, but he comes out with a mindset. He’s still a young guy.”

That it was App State safety Alex Gray on the receiving end of Gallman’s hit — Gray had yanked sophomore quarterback Deshaun Watson’s facemask on a scramble earlier in the possession — was just a bonus for the Tigers.

“Loved it, golly,” senior left guard Eric Mac Lain said. “They were a pretty talkative team, and to have one of our running backs lay the wood to one of their guys was great to see.”

Gallman’s 171 yards through two games rank seventh in the ACC, and he has three touchdowns on the ground.

Defensive end Shaq Lawson was named ACC co-defensive end of the week for recording three tackles for loss and his first sack of the season in the Tigers’ 41-10 win over the Mountaineers.

For all his fame among collegiate quarterbacks, there’s something Watson has yet to experience at Clemson: start, and finish, a game outside of Memorial Stadium.

Watson came off the bench and played well at Georgia and Florida State last year. He started at Georgia Tech, but was knocked out in the first half. He did not play at Boston College or Wake Forest and had ACL reconstructive surgery before the Russell Athletic Bowl vs. Oklahoma.

Watson, celebrating his 20th birthday Monday, is ready for the road trip to Louisville on Thursday, also his first nighttime start on ESPN.

“I came to Clemson for games like this on national television and have people watch us play,” Watson said. “These are the moments I’ve been dreaming of since middle school.”

Tight end Stanton Seckinger (Porter-Gaud) made his season debut Saturday, seeing action on a couple of drives as he returns from last season’s knee surgery. While junior Jordan Leggett remains the starter, the senior Seckinger is still the preference over emerging true freshman Garrett Williams in most formations.

“Stanton is still that guy you go to right after Leggett,” Elliott said. “This game right here, Stanton has to be ready.”