Clemson, SC (SportsNetwork.com) - The 23rd-ranked Clemson Tigers will attempt to bounce back from a loss in the season opener at Georgia, as they welcome the South Carolina State Bulldogs to Death Valley for a Palmetto State showdown on Saturday afternoon.
The Tigers looked good early on against Georgia in last week's matchup in Athens, GA, but failed to keep the momentum going, falling to the Bulldogs at Sanford Stadium, 45-21.
It will now be up to Dabo Swinney and his coaching staff to get his team to look ahead and put the season-opening loss behind them.
"At the end of the day, Georgia is a great football team," said Swinney after the loss. "This is the first time that I have ever lost a season opener. It's new territory for me. I'm used to walking in after the game and being 1-0, but this time I'm 0-1, but we're just 0-1. Every goal that we have is still in front of us. It's never as bad as it seems and it's never as good as it seems. We're 0-1 and we have a long way to go. The season starts tomorrow. That's he mentality that we have. The challenge if we win or lose is to grow and learn and that's what we will do as a football team."
South Carolina State got its 2014 season off on the right foot, as the Bulldogs disposed of Benedict, 63-0. The Bulldogs held a 14-0 lead at intermission, before erupting for 49 points in the second half.
"It was a good win for us but we still have a lot of work to do on both sides of the ball," said SC State head coach Buddy Pough. "We have some young guys out there still trying to find their way but as we move forward I am sure things will fall into place."
Clemson has won both prior meetings with South Carolina State, including a 52-13 rout last season. The first matchup resulted in a 54-0 shutout in 2008.
The Bulldogs amassed 541 yards of total offense against Benedict, but will see that decrease significantly as they step up in competition this week. Still, Adrian Kollock was impressive in his first career start, completing 15-of-18 passes, for 160 yards, while adding a 39-yard TD run as well.
It was the ground game that really took its toll on Benedict, with SC State rumbling for 381 yards and eight TDs.
Defensively. SC State did a nice job as well in the opener, allowing only 228 yards of total offense. Again, those numbers are a bit skewed due to the level of competition. The run defense was strong, allowing just 56 yards on 1.9 yards per carry. The team registered 11 TFL, 3 sacks and forced two turnovers in the win.
Senior end Alex Glover paced the team in the win with six tackles. Three of them came behind the line of scrimmage, including one sack. Redshirt freshman linebacker Darius Leonard, redshirt junior defensive back Antonio Hamilton and senior linebacker Justin Hughes all had four tackles.
The Tigers were able to go toe-to-toe with the Bulldogs to start the game and were tied at 21-21 after amassing an impressive 276 yards of total offense, running 54 plays in the first half. Things changed in a hurry after that though, as the team finished the game with just 291 total yards.
Swinney opted to play two quarterbacks in the loss to Georgia, as both Cole Stoudt and DeShaun Watson saw time under center. Stoudt finished the game 16- of-29 passing, for 144 yards with an interception. Watson was just 2-of-4 passing, but one of those completions was for a touchdown.
Wide receiver Adam Humphries led the team with five catches, while fellow wideout Mike Williams made the most of his three grabs, going for 88 yards.
Clemson has enjoyed great offensive balance over the years, but Georgia took the run away in the opener, with the Tigers managing a mere 88 yards on 2.0 ypc.
Meanwhile, the Tigers failed to stop the run, as Georgia churned out 328 yards on an eye-popping 8.0 yards per carry. All-American candidate Todd Gurley torched Clemson for 198 yards rushing and four TDs (three rushing and one on a 100-yard kickoff return).
Senior safety Robert Smith led the Clemson defense with 10 tackles and one fumble recovery. Senior linebackers Tony Steward and Stephone Anthony and sophomore safety Jayron Kearse all had eight stops, while All-American rush end Vic Beasley (five tackles), was responsible for the team's only sack of the day.