CLEMSON, S.C. — Dabo Swinney says the key for Clemson to knock off No. 21 Wake Forest on Saturday will be to play complementary football.
He says that has helped the fifth-ranked Tigers the most when playing the Demon Deacons. There is something to what he is saying.
Clemson (3-0, 1-0 ACC) has beat the Demon Deacons like no one else since Dave Clawson became their head coach in 2014. The Tigers are not only 8-0 in those meeting, but they have beaten Wake Forest by an average score of 41-13.
It gets worse.
The Demon Deacons (3-0, 0-0 ACC) have averaged just 236.8 yards of total offense, including just 70.3 yards on the ground. On 290 carries, they are averaging just 1.9 yards per carry.
“We have been able to get them out of their rhythm and their game plan,” Swinney said.
Last year, the Tigers jumped out to a 17-3 lead before running away with the victory. The defense sacked Wake quarterback Sam Hartman three times on Wake’s first two possessions and finished the afternoon with seven overall.
“Last year, I think we had four straight stops (to start the game). Punt, punt, punt, punt,” Swinney said. “Then we come out and get some points and got up 17-3. Then all of a sudden, with our defense, it kind of gets them out of their plan a little bit and out of rhythm.
“That has been more the key than anything.”
Clemson beat Wake 48-27 last year, totaling 543 yards of offense, including 333 on the ground. Though the Demon Deacons gained 406 total yards, they had just 36 rushing yards.
“That is what it takes,” Swinney said. “It just can’t be defense because they are going to make plays. They can score on anybody. They are really, really good. They will make plays, so we have to complement our defense.”