The sun burst its rays through the gray sky as  Clemson’s offense they moved the ball down the field with precision from the opening whistle. Kelly Bryant was sharp, the offensive line pushed the Demon Deacons on the line of scrimmage, and the wide receivers used their athleticism to gain extra yards after the catch.

Clemson scored two minutes into the game with a 28 yard pass to Deon Cain on a fade route to finish off a seven play, 78-yard drive that only had one negative play (an incomplete pass).

Kendall Hinton started the game instead of John Wolford, whom is slightly injured. It is unclear if Wolford was injured during warmups or if it was planned to start Hinton for the whole time.

After a Wake Forest three and out, Clemson marched down the field to score on a twelve play, 76-yard drive that featured four different runners and three different pass catchers. Adam Choice punched the ball in from four yards out to give the Tigers a 14-0 lead with 6:07 in the first.

Feaster started the game and the drive, Etienne slipped away for a 20 yard run, and Adam Choice was the red zone, bowling ball back.

Greg Dortch’s 27 yard return and 43-yard reception were two of the three explosive plays to send Wake Forest to the red zone but Clemson’s defense held fast. Mike Weaver missed his first kick of the year (10 for 10 before today) by inches on a 34-yard attempt, but some thought that the kick was good.

Younger players were on the field for most of the next drive, with Tee Higgins making a spectacular 20 yard catch on a post route. The drive stalled just outside the red zone, and Alex Spence bounced a 43-yard field goal off the left upright near the end of the first quarter.

On their first three drives, Clemson ran 31 plays and Wake Forest ran 11, with two of Wake’s first three drives ending in three and outs.

Up by two scores and just past midfield on their fourth steady drive of the afternoon, the Tigers had a choice to make: do they go for it on fourth down and one, or punt to minimize the risks? The Tigers gambled and Louisiana native Etienne answered with a two-yard rush and a new set of downs.

The Demon Deacons destroyed the Tigers drive on the next play, as Kelly Bryant was sacked for an eighteen-yard loss and his fumble was recovered by redshirt freshman Carlos Basham.

At this point (according to David Hale) the Demon Deacons had 5.7 yards per play and the Tigers had 5.4, taking the cake in “misleading statistics”.

Wake failed to capitalize on this opportunity as holding call on right tackle Jake Benzinger dug Wake into a hole they couldn’t escape from and culminating in their third three and out.

Clemson’s offense had lost its fire from the start of the game, and another steady drive was lost due to a Diondre Overton hold on a third down Bryant scramble.

On Will Spiers first punt of the afternoon, Cornell Powell leaped into the end zone to bat the ball back from entering into the end zone, pinning Wake Forest on their own four-yard line.

After Clemson’s offensive struggles worsened with a three and out, Will Spiers took the field to kick the ball back. But Coach Swinney had a trick up his sleeve, and Spiers instead threw a five yard pass to Cornell Powell for the first down on a fake punt.

The energy from Clemson’s first two drives disappeared and, and DJ Greenlee’s 15-yard offensive pass interference penalty cost the Tigers a chance to exit the half with the momentum.

While Clemson shot itself in the foot, Wake Forest failed to capitalize on their opportunities. While Wake made some positive plays, a costly drop on a 40 yard pass by Chuck Wade cost the Deacons a chance at points to end the half.

Clemson’s defense has shut down Wake’s offense, with 43 of their 113 yards coming on one play and the Demon Deacons going two for seven on third down.

The Tigers have converted six of eleven third downs, both of their fourth down attempts, and have controlled the ball for 21:15 of the game’s first thirty minutes, but they have not put away the Demon Deacons like the statistics would indicate.

Clemson’s one turnover and five penalties for 54 yards came at the worst times, allowing the Demon Deacons to hang around the Tigers in an uncomfortable manner.

While this was not expected to be a blowout because Wake Forest is an over-achieving team, there is cause for concern.  The bad news is that Clemson’s struggles have not come from the solid play of Wake Forest, but instead from their mistakes and loss of momentum in the first half.

The good news is that the Tigers are one of the best teams in the nation at second half adjustments. Wake Forest is not a pushover, but the Tigers should be able to come out strong and put away the Demon Deacons in the second half.