Game Day: Clemson

Matt Willinger, Associate Editor
Cardinal Sports

LOUISVILLE TO HOST DEFENDING NATIONAL CHAMPIONS

In what arguably be one of the biggest home games in school history, No. 14 Louisville hosts defending national champion Clemson Saturday in the 2017 home opener at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.

The game will be broadcast on ABC with Chris Fowler (play-byplay), Kirk Herbstreit (analyst) and Maria Taylor (sideline). Paul Rogers (play-by-play), Alex Kupper (analyst) and Jody Demling (sideline) will call the action on Louisville Sports Properties.

The Cardinals, behind 525 yards of total offense and six touchdowns from quarterback Lamar Jackson, outlasted North Carolina 47-35 at Kenan Stadium. The win improved the Cardinals to 2-0 and 1-0 in the ACC.

Jackson passed for 393 yards and three touchdowns and tied a school record for career 100-yard rushing games with 15 by running for 132 yards and three scores against the Tar Heels.

THE OPPONENT

Clemson, the defending national champion, moved to 2-0 with a 14-6 win over No. 13 Auburn at Death Valley on Saturday.

Defensively, the Tigers recorded 11 sacks in the win over Auburn. Clemson was sparked by Dorian O’Daniel, whose 14 tackles—10 in the first half—were a career high for the redshirt graduate linebacker. Junior defensive lineman Christian Wilkins added another 10 tackles, and junior defensive end Austin Bryant had four of Clemson’s 11 sacks.

Through the first two games, the Tigers have outscored the opposition 70-9, while allowing just 118.5 yards of total offense — 40.0 of which has come through the air. „ The Tigers are ranked first in the nation in passing defense, second in total defense and sacks after recording a pair of wins to open the season.

Junior quarterback Kelly Bryant led the offensive charge for Clemson, passing for 181 yards and rushing for 59. He leads the team in rushing with 136 yards and three touchdowns, while throwing for 417 yards and one score.

SERIES NOTES

Clemson has won all three previous meetings by a combined total of 15 points. „ Louisville dropped a 42-36 decision to Clemson last season after falling behind 28-10. Quarterback Lamar Jackson led the comeback attempt with two touchdown runs and one through the air.

In its only trip to Louisville, Clemson took a 20-17 victory at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium in 2015 despite a 100-yard kickoff return from Traveon Samuel. The Cardinals had a chance to tie the game late, but John Wallace missed a 38-yard field goal.

Clemson pulled out a 23-17 victory over Louisville when the Tigers put on an outstanding goal line stand on the Cardinal’s last possession of the game. On fourth down from the Clemson two, Will Gardner’s pass was broken up by defensive tackle DeShawn Williams giving Clemson the victory.

CLEMSON LAST TIME OUT

Powered by a defense that sacked Auburn’s quarterback 11 times, No. 3 Clemson defeated No. 13 Auburn 14-6 at Death Valley on Saturday night.

Junior quarterback Kelly Bryant led the offensive charge for Clemson, passing for 181 yards and rushing for 59. On defense, Clemson was sparked by Dorian O’Daniel, whose 14 tackles—10 in the first half—were a career high for the redshirt graduate linebacker. Junior defensive lineman Christian Wilkins added another 10 tackles, and junior defensive end Austin Bryant had four of Clemson’s 11 sacks.

Auburn scored the only points of the first quarter just under eight minutes in on a Daniel Carlson 24-yard field goal that capped off the first drive. The SEC Tigers doubled their lead early in the second quarter, this time on a 28-yarder by Carlson.

Clemson took its first lead with less than a minute left in the first half on a three-yard touchdown rush by Bryant. The 12-play scoring drive was highlighted by 29-yard pass from Bryant to junior receiver Ray-Ray McCloud on third down, and Clemson found the endzone two plays later. Following the Bryant score, Clemson had a 7-6 lead at halftime.

Bryant opened the scoring in the second half, topping off Clemson’s first drive of the half with a 27-yard rushing touchdown to give his squad a 14-6 lead early in the third quarter. That proved to be the final score, as Clemson’s seven second-half sacks limited Auburn to 15 total yards with -25 rushing yards in the second half.

TRUE FRESHMEN SEE ACTION

Louisville coach Bobby Petrino has never shied away from playing true freshmen. In his eight years with the Cardinals, a total of 50 true freshmen have seen action for Louisville, including a high of nine in 2015.

In the season-opening win over Purdue, seven rookies saw their first collegiate action, including a trio of starters in linebacker Dorian Etheridge, offensive tackle Mekhi Becton and long snapper Mitch Hall. Etheridge started at linebacker, becoming the first true freshman to start at linebacker since James Burgess was a starter in three games during the 2012 campaign.

Corey Reed, TreSean Smith, Kemari Averett, Russ Yeast, and C.J. Avery also saw action in their first collegiate game. Josh Johnson cracked the lineup last weekend at North Carolina.

Of the 50 true freshmen who have played under Petrino, 19 have started at least once during their freshman season. Louisville had six freshmen starters in 2015. „ Only three true freshmen saw action last season: Malik Staples, Lamarques Thomas and Seth Dawkins.

SMITH SETS SCHOOL RECORD

Wide receiver Jaylen Smith has raced out of the blocks in record-breaking fashion. The native of Pascagoula, Miss., has 300 receiving yards, the most by a UofL receiver in the first two games of a season, surpassing 251 by Harry Douglas in 2007.

In the win over North Carolina, Smith recorded his third career, second straight, 100-yard receiving game. He finished the contest with career highs of nine catches for 183 yards and one score.

He caught a 75-yard touchdown reception for a touchdown — the third down of over 50 yards in his career. He is tied for eighth with an average of 17.5 yards per reception.

The junior stands third nationally with an average of 150.0 receiving yards per game and sixth in the country with 300 receiving yards. With an average of 8.5 receptions per game, Smith is fourth in the ACC and 12th in the country.

Smith had a career-best eight catches for 117 yards. It was the second game of his career with at least 100 yards receiving, coming just shy of his 123-yard performance versus Boston College a year ago.

Smith is tied for fifth in the nation with 11 receptions of over 10 yards this season.

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