It’s hard to put into perspective the job Brent Venables has done at Clemson, but Saturday’s win over Georgia Tech certainly shined the spotlight on his success once again. The Tigers’ D held the Yellow Jackets to just 1.7 yards per rush and 71 yards on the ground -- both the low-water marks under Paul Johnson.
Clemson stuffed Georgia Tech for a loss or no gain on 40.5 percent of its rushing attempts, the worst rate under Johnson. But Venables has clearly had Johnson’s number. Of the nine highest rates of loss/no gain runs by Georgia Tech since 2008, three have come against Clemson, all in the last three years (31.1 percent in 2013, 28 percent in 2014).
And while Johnson’s triple-option offense was supposed to be plug-and-play with new talent, it’s actually been Venables’ group that’s managed that trick. Despite losing six members of its defensive front from a year ago, Clemson has 48 tackles for loss (second nationally), 13 sacks and six forced fumbles. For the year, the Tigers are allowing 2.74 yards per rush (seventh nationally) and have stopped 36.3 runs for a loss or no gain (second).
A look at 'Clemsoning'
Dabo Swinney is sick of hearing the term, and for good reason. The Tigers have now won 33 straight against unranked teams (second longest active streak) and are 4-0 after winning a regular-season game against a ranked foe since 2012.
In the time since Clemson last lost to an unranked foe, here’s how a few other big-name programs have done:
Georgia -- 26-4 (22-4 when AP ranked)
South Carolina -- 24-6 (16-6)
Auburn -- 19-6 (10-1)
Florida -- 23-8 (12-1)
UCLA -- 22-7 (17-6)
Southern Cal -- 25-9 (16-6)
Michigan -- 23-10 (11-2)
Miami -- 24-11 (5-2)
Virginia Tech -- 22-15 (3-3)
Arkansas -- 14-10 (2-2)
Look who’s Cook-ing
Dalvin Cook ran for 222 yards and two touchdowns in a win over Miami, the most yards by a Florida State runner in the long history of its series against the Hurricanes.
The performance in prime time certainly should vault Cook into the Heisman talk, but for the sake of debate, here’s a quick comparison between the FSU sophomore and the current Heisman front-runner.
Obviously, the work done by either runner last season doesn’t impact this year’s Heisman race, but it’s interesting to see how similar their output has been. The big difference is Cook has had significantly more explosive plays, while Fournette has been much better at avoiding bad runs.
Motley is Dr. Feelgood
Virginia Tech’s Brenden Motley threw three touchdown passes in the win over NC State on Friday. That brings his total to 10 this season, which ranks second in the ACC.
Compare Motley to Clemson’s Deshaun Watson, and the numbers are surprisingly similar.
The win-loss record is far different, and Watson hasn’t been asked to do as much for Clemson thus far, but it’s a good reminder that Motley has been far better than the Hokies could’ve hoped for in relief of injured Michael Brewer.
Duke held Army to just a field goal Saturday, and the Blue Devils' defense has yet to surrender more than 20 points in a game this season. They’re tied with Boston College for the longest active streaks allowing 20 or fewer in a game (6) in FBS.
In two career starts against Florida State, Brad Kaaya is 45-of-83 for 721 yards, five touchdowns and one INT. His record is 0-2.
In the past three seasons, only four times has a team won a game without scoring a touchdown. Wake Forest is now responsible for two of them. (Duke, two weeks ago, is another.)
NC State’s record against Power 5 schools under Dave Doeren is now 3-15, with an average margin of defeat of 11.7 points per game. Those three wins all came last year against Syracuse, Wake Forest and North Carolina (combined record 12-25).
Boston College has allowed just two drives this season of 60 yards or more, and just one resulted in a touchdown -- both tops in the nation. BC has allowed just two offensive touchdowns all season, and one was just 4 yards.
Cameron Glenn's INT against BC was the first takeaway of the year for Wake Forest. That leaves Virginia as the only team in the country without an interception. The Cavaliers have allowed 14 touchdown passes (116th nationally) to boot.
Boston College ran for 196 yards and yet it failed to score a point against Wake Forest. That’s the first time that’s happened in the last decade by a Power 5 team. The previous rushing high in a shutout belonged to Kansas, which had 187 in a 34-0 loss to Iowa State.
Pitt has 21 sacks through five games, two more than it had all of last year. The Panthers have 40 tackles for loss -- just 14 shy of last year’s total.