Each week, Clemson student Brad Adams gives us an inside look at Clemson football in his column “Behind Enemy Lines.”
Clemson 26, Auburn 19
Sammy who? The Clemson Tigers prevailed Saturday night over Auburn in a 26-19 win in the Georgia Dome. DeAndre Hopkins set a school record with 13 receptions and Andre Ellington rushed for a career high 231 yards, silencing many critics who didn’t believe Clemson could get past Auburn without suspended star wide out Sammy Watkins. Clemson’s defense shook off any hangover from the 70-33 Orange Bowl loss to West Virginia, only allowing one touchdown and stiffening when Auburn drove into the red zone.
Both teams struggled to score touchdowns after crossing midfield, converting four field goals each. Tajh Boyd had an above average outing, completing 24 of his 34 pass attempts for 208 yards with one touchdown and one interception. He also added 58 yards on the ground as part of a potent Tigers rushing attack. The offensive line was asked to clear a path for Ellington and Boyd, and the unit responded with an outstanding performance. Andre Ellington needed just 26 carries to amass 231 yards, which combined with Boyd’s 19 rushes to catch Auburn off guard. ”Our credit goes to the guys up front,” head coach Dabo Swinney said. “When you rush for 320 yards and win the turnover margin, you’re going to win a bunch of ballgames.” The Auburn defense played Clemson as a passing team, paying little attention to the backfield, at least initially. Clemson forced Auburn to adjust and began to distribute the ball through the air, using the running game to set up the pass. DeAndre Hopkins has elevated his game to the point where teams may have to plan for two “number one receivers” in the film room before when taking on Clemson.
The game’s crucial turning point came with 9:26 left in the fourth quarter. Auburn had a 19-16 lead, but that lead would be taken away with a perfect four yard pass from Boyd to Hopkins in the back right corner of the end zone. Clemson would go on to tack on another field goal before time expired to win the game 26-19. It was a crucial win for the Tigers over a talented squad from the SEC. With this game out of the way, the Tigers can focus on tying up loose ends the next two weeks at home against Ball State and Furman before a showdown with conference and BCS implications on September 22 in Tallahassee with Florida State.
“Keep your filthy hands off my rock”
Seemingly every season, college football fans debate which team’s traditions rank among the nation’s most exciting. Schools like South Carolina, Virginia Tech, Tennessee, and Florida State claim to have the most unique and electrifying entrances in the sport, but Clemson fans take pride in the team’s tradition of touching Howard’s Rock and running down the hill into the stadium before kickoff of each home game.
Referred to as “the most exciting 25 seconds in college football” by analyst Brent Musburger, running down the hill started as a necessity. Originally, the team dressed in the campus gym and ran down “the hill” into the football stadium, which is nicknamed Death Valley and was constructed in a bowl, before each game. As the Clemson program grew and began to attract more fans, they decided to make running down the hill a tradition to add excitement to the pre-game activities.
Howard’s Rock, named after long time coach Frank Howard, was brought from Death Valley, California to prove a point. Moments before a game against Wake Forest on September 23, 1967, Coach Howard told his players if they weren’t going to give 110 percent, to get their filthy hands off his rock. The Tigers responded with a lopsided 23-6 victory, and a tradition was born. Ever since, the players rub the rock before each game to be inspired to play for all those who have made Clemson into what it is today. This Saturday, the team will gather at the top of the hill, rub Howard’s rock, and spill down the hill to their fight song “Tiger Rag” as they have for years.
Previewing the Cardinals
This Saturday, Clemson will play host to the Ball State Cardinals at 12:30. Both teams come into the contest with 1-0 records, with Ball State earning a 37-26 win over Eastern Michigan last weekend. Cardinals running back Jahwan Edwards rushed for 200 of the team’s 329 yards on the ground, and receiver Jamill Smith caught seven passes for 119 yards. The Cardinals, who play in the Mid-American Conference, will have to prove they can elevate their game in order to stop Clemson’s offensive attack if they’re going to have a real chance in this week’s matchup. If Clemson can run the ball effectively and continue to spread the ball around in the passing game, they should be able to handle the visitors from Muncie, Indiana in the home opener and improve to 2-0 on the year. My prediction: Clemson 38, Ball State 17.