Clemson, SC—-If Clemson wants to make a splash in the CFP Playoffs this season they better call number #1 number more often in the trenches. Every time Will Shipley touches the ball, he makes something happen for the Clemson Tigers.
Shipley had two touchdowns on Saturday, along with a career-high 139 yards rushing, in the fifth-ranked Tigers’ (3-0) 48-20 win over Louisiana Tech (1-2) on Saturday night at Memorial Stadium.
“My favorite thing in the world is getting in the end zone,” Shipley said. “So any time that gets to happen, there’s a huge smile on my face.”
The Tigers are 3-0 for the seventh time in eight seasons after shaking off a slow first half.
The sophomore running back has six TDs this season, two in each game. Clemson said, according to its records since 1950, he’s the first Tiger to have multiple TDs in the first three games of the season.
Three weeks into Clemson’s season and Dabo Swinney’s team has yet to dominate an opponent for 60 minutes.
“We’re not a great team yet. Again, great teams don’t do some of the things we did tonight,” Swinney said. “But, man, these guys compete.”
The Tigers were up 13-6 at the break, took advantage of two Parker McNeil interceptions by linebacker Jeremiah Trotter Jr. and fourth-down stop on Louisiana Tech’s gamble to stay in the game — all leading to scores.
DJ Uiagalelei moved Clemson 90 yards in 14 plays, ending on Phil Mafah’s 4-yard TD run.
Clemson outscored the Bulldogs 35-14 in the second half en route to a 28-point victory.
“I think we’ve got a bunch of guys who want to work and get better throughout the year,” Shipley said. “So, yeah, I’m very comfortable with where the offense is right now.”
Clemson’s Uiagalelei passed for 221 yards and two TDs. He also rushed for 62 yards.
Down 27-6, Tech and first-year coach Sonny Cumbie gambled on fourth-and-2 at its 33-yard line. Marquis Crosby lost a yard as he was tackled by defensive end Justin Mascoll and linebacker Wade Woodaz.
Uiagalelei went to work immediately and found Beaux Collins for a 32-yard touchdown on the next play to put the Tigers up by four touchdowns.
Louisiana Tech’s Cumbie said he knew he was going to for it on fourth down deep in his territory which was a risk he was willing to take. But Clemson had scored two touchdowns in the previous eight minutes and was looking to put the game away.
Clemson down two starters in the secondary and two on the defensive front, struggled in the opening half to get any pressure on McNeil or any solid coverage on his receivers in the “Air Raid” scheme.
Despite missing three games with injuries, Shipley led the Tigers last season with 11 touchdowns. Shipley finished with 139 yards on 12 carries, an average of 11.6. For the season, that’s 249 yards on 32 carries, an average of 7.8 per
McNeil finished 23 of 42 passing for 311 yards.
“I think our players are fighting,” Cumbie said. “We’ve just got to be a little smarter in our execution.”
Louisiana Tech: Finishes its non-conference schedule at South Alabama next Saturday night.
Clemson: Jumps back into ACC competition at No. 19 Wake Forest next Saturday.