Clemson has contained Lamar Jackson and outplayed Louisville in the first half while taking a 19-7 lead into the locker room.
Clemson’s defense has neutered Louisville’s offense outside of one 95-yard drive, allowing total 154 yards in the half.
The Cardinals started their third drive on their own five-yard line, but Jackson ran for 55 yards and threw for 45 yards as he engineered a two-minute drive to tie the game with 4:22 in the first.
Tanner Muse was also ejected for targeting on the drive. Lamar Jackson took advantage of the Clemson defense’s confusion after the ejection by throwing an eleven-yard touchdown to Charles Standberry. To add insult to injury, Clemson had twelve men on the field.
Despite the heroic drive, the Cardinals offense is being contained by Clemson’s defense.
Louisville is 0-6 on third down, and Lamar Jackson has completed eight of twenty passes for 83 yards (4.2 per attempt).
Jackson is not having his best game and his supporting cast is not helping him take on the Clemson defense, particularly the defensive line. His athleticism is buying him time, but it can’t solve all of the Cardinals woes.
From Clemson’s first series, Kelly Bryant has established the deep ball to keep the defense honest. A 40-yard dime to Renfrow on the first drive showed that Bryant was comfortable on the big stage.
Clemson’s offensive line was winning at the line of scrimmage, so going for it on fourth and one in the red zone on the opening drive was an easy decision. The next play, Kelly Bryant faked the jet run to McCloud and finds his way for an eight-yard touchdown.
After Louisville’s score, freshman Travis Etienne muffed the kickoff and returned it to the ten-yard line. Clemson marched to midfield until Kelly Bryant underthrew a bomb to Deon Cain and the drive petered out.
Huegel has made his career long 49-yard field goal in addition to a 31-yard kick while missing a 42-yard kick and having an extra point blocked.
Clemson’s defense continued to stifle the Cardinals offense, but Clemson missed another opportunity as Huegel missed a 42-yard field goal.
Ray Ray McCloud is showing his maturity that when combined with his athleticism is making him Clemson’s main playmaker. In shorter words, his light is coming on and he will be an electric player this year.
He displayed this as he caught punts on the run and gained extra yardage, and then used a double move to get absurdly wide open for a 79-yard throw from Kelly Bryant for a score.
Ray Ray McCloud used a double move to get open, and then Kelly Bryant threw a 79-yard dime to McCloud as no one was within ten yards of him.
Clemson has rushed for 96 yards, passed for 228, gained 335 total yards, and more than doubled Louisville’s time of possession by 20:13 to 9:47.
Clemson has scored on their last three drives with a touchdown sandwiched by field goals, and they have the ball to start the first half.
While Clemson is in a good position and has played better than last year, Lamar Jackson makes Louisville dangerous and the Tigers were up 28-14 at half last year. Expect the Tigers talent to win out in another great half of football.
Additional note: While ESPN said that Bryant was the Greenville County player of the year, he played in Abbeville and Wren High Schools (not Greenville County).