“We tell them it’s not about the who, its about the how.” – Jeff Scott and the coaching staff preaches the motto of consistency and focus that carried Clemson to a 56-3 thrashing over the Kent State Golden Flashes.

 

As the Tigers celebrated the national championship with festivities, Clemson showed that they did not rest on last year’s laurels in the offseason. The offseason stories centered around who Clemson lost, but their replacements seized the moment and embraced their new roles in front of 80,121 Tiger faithful.

 

CJ Fuller was named the starting running back last week and started the season off with a 26 -yard touchdown run through the heart of the Kent State defense just a minute into the game.

 

Kelly Bryant faced doubts all offseason long about his throwing and ability to replace Deshaun Watson. Bryant started off hot, finding Deon Cain on a go route over the top for a 61-yard score early in the first quarter to make the score 14-0.

 

He showcased his athleticism on the ground as he evaded tacklers, ran through creases, and displayed his burst on a 47-yard scramble.

 

Bryant finished the day completing 16 out of 22 passes for 236 yards, throwing a score and an interception that was a bad break.

 

Bryant had an excellent opening game and he appeared to solidify his place as the starter.

 

Tight end Milan Richard made two impressive catch and runs of 26 and 44 yards that highlighted his powerful build and athleticism.

 

Some returning veterans made their impacts too, with Ray Ray McCloud fielding a nine-yard punt return in an athletic display that demonstrated his improved confidence from last year.

 

Tavien Feaster and Adam Choice didn’t disappoint either as they took their opportunities and made the most of them. Feaster rushed six times for 69 yards and one 47-yard touchdown, while Choice rushed four times for 20 yards and a three yard score.

 

Travis Etienne was the Tigers leading rusher of the day, rushing eight times for 81 yards and a score. His 54-yard rush showed his balance and running ability that players and coaches have raved about since the Louisiana native arrived on campus.

Zerrick Cooper completed four of six passes for 37 yards and one score; while Hunter Johnson completed five of six passes for 39 yards.

This defense was more of a team effort and less of a group effort, as no one had an impressive statistical game.

 

Clemson’s defense was impressive, holding Kent State to 112 yards – 111 rushing and 1 passing yard. This is not a typo: Kent State completed one of four passes for one yard.

 

Coaches echoed the sentiment an opener is full of unknowns and that teams have to adjust as the game goes on.

 

Kent State looked a lot like Georgia Tech at times, but Clemson’s experience defending Georgia Tech helped the Tigers adjust on the fly.

 

The run defense was disciplined and disruptive, but nothing can be gleaned about how Clemson defends the pass.

 

Young safeties Tanner Muse and Isaiah Simmons were fast and looking for someone to hit, they should be excellent players as they mature.

 

Tanner Muse said that Kent State running the ball was not frustrating because “we always think run first, pass second … I enjoy the run fit. I get to make tackles being there in the box, and that’s a lot of fun.”

 

One of the most impressive things about Clemson’s performance is the lack of mistakes. Clemson only had four penalties for 45 yards and one turnover.

 

Swinney stated: “I’ve been around football for a long time, but I can’t remember a cleaner performance in an opening game than the one I saw today … It was a complete performance.”

 

Clemson had 665 total yards with 353 yards on the ground and 312 passing yards – the first ACC team since 2013 to go 300/300 on a team not named Syracuse (courtesy of David Hale).

 

Harkening back to Coach Scott’s words, Clemson couldn’t control the struggles of Kent State. What Clemson could control is their performance, and Clemson did everything you could ask for in the opener.