The Ball State Cardinals never really had a chance after the opening kickoff as the Tigers went on to score 45 points in the first half and ultimately win 52-27.
Several Tigers, including Nuk Hopkins, Charone Peake, Martavis Bryant, Cole Stoudt, and Stephone Anthony had career days, but it was the playing time that back-up players received that was most important.
Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said that it was important for the reserves to get a chance to play in order to grow his team for the future.
“Later in the game we got in a situation where we didn’t want anyone to get hurt,” Swinney said after the game. “It was a great opportunity to grow the team. We got to play a lot of guys and give them the chance to get some playing time. I’ve told them at practices during the week, you may not be the starter or even the second guy, but you have to be ready when it’s your turn. You need to practice like you would play. Hopefully we can start off strong next week, and give a lot of guys some playing time again.”
What went right: Because of the lopsided score, 80 different players were able to see valuable game action, including war veteran Daniel Rodriguez and long-snapper Sam Van Gieson who has been a walk-on for four years.
The Clemson offense was almost perfect in the first half. The Tigers had 382 yards of total offense and quarterback Tajh Boyd finished the half-and the game with a line 19-for-23 for 229 yards and three touchdowns.
Nuk Hopkins continues to impress and stake his claim as the number one receiver on the Clemson football team. Hopkins had his third consecutive 100-yard receiving game, finishing the game with six catches for 105 yards. He also scored three touchdowns. Hopkins has never had more than one touchdown reception in a game.
The Tigers won the turnover battle, forcing two interceptions. Linebacker Stephone Anthony recorded his first career interception and defensive back Darius Robinson recorded the other interception. Clemson also recovered an on-side kick.
Back-up quarterback Cole Stoudt had a career day. He saw his first extensive action in 2012 completing 12 passes for 123 yards.
What went wrong: Injuries. Starting left guard David Beasley went down with a sprained MCL during the first quarter and never returned. Backup running back D.J. Howard and starting linebacker Tig Willard both suffered bruised shoulders. Backup linebacker Tony Steward pulled his hamstring in the first half and did not return.
Last week against Auburn, the offense was flagged for numerous procedural penalties, but this week it was the defense’s turn. The Clemson defense was called twice for pass interference that kept drives alive for Ball St.
The Clemson run defense continues to struggle. Clemson gave up 54-yard and 21-yard touchdowns to Horactio Banks. Overall, the Tigers gave up 252 yards on the ground. If Clemson is going to be successful this season, they have to limit the big plays and shore up their run defense.
Placekicker Chandler Catanzaro has been money so far this season, but missed an extra point on the Tigers’ first touchdown.
Turning Point in the game: Kickoff. This game was never in doubt after the 12:29 kickoff. Clemson pulled their offensive starters with about four minutes left in the half after going up 42-10.
Play of the game: Spencer Benton’s 61-yard field goal at the end of the first half.
Player of the Game: Sophomore linebacker Stephone Anthony came to Clemson as one of the top rated linebackers in the country in 2011 and he showed why he earned that high praise Saturday. Anthony recorded a team-high and career-high nine tackles. He also recorded his first interception when he sniffed out a pass over the middle by Ball St. quarterback Keith Wenning .
Stat of the Game: Benton’s 61-yard field goal on the last play of the first half to put the Tigers up 45-10 set a new Clemson and ACC record. The previous record was 57 yards by Obed Ariri.
Post written by Clemson Girl Sports Bloggess, Nikki Steele.