It took a while to really see what the fuss was all about. Two weeks and 10 minutes into the season, Clemson fans still weren’t sure what Chad Morris had up his sleeve regarding his offense. The Tigers dispatched their first two opponents, Troy and Wofford, without much creativity on offense. And with five minutes to go in the first quarter of game three against Auburn Saturday, the Tigers had a sum total of zero points and 34 yards.
And then, the engine got cranked. And when it finally shut down about three hours later, the Tigers had rolled up 38 points on 92 snaps and 624 yards. At one point, Clemson converted nine straight third down situations. Tiger fans now knew what all the fuss was about regarding Morris and his new offense.
Quarterback Tajh Boyd led a parade of Clemson offensive stars. Boyd was 30-42 for 386 yards and 4 touchdowns, all career highs. The 386 passing yards was the second best passing performance ever by a Clemson quarterback.
Freshman Sammy Watkins had 10 catches for 155 yards and 2 scores. The catches and yardage are both record for a Clemson freshman. Dwayne Allen and DeAndre Hopkins each had 7 receptions.
And freshman running back DJ Howard, who at one time was an Auburn commitment, led the ground game with a career hignh 86 yards. Howard spelled Andre Ellington who went out with a hamstring issue after 14 carries and 46 yards.
Overshadowed by the offense was the play of the defense which got off to a shaky start but kept Auburn out of the end zone in the second half. Kevin Steele’s group allowed three touchdowns and 285 yards in the first half. But the Tigers kept Auburn out of the end zone in the second half and gave up only 150 yards over the final 30 minutes. Cornerback Cody Sensabaugh sealed the win with a interception of Barrett Trotter at the Clemson 13 with 9:34 to play and the Tigers protecting a 38-24 lead.
Auburn did manage 435 yards for the game with running back Michael Dyer rushing for 151 yards and 2 touchdowns. But after scoring three touchdowns in their first five possessions, the Tigers managed just a field goal over their final six possessions.