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Halftime musings: Clemson leads Duke 7-6 in opener

Running+back+Will+Shipley+got+the+Tigers+on+the+board+early+in+the+second+quarter+on+a+2-yard+reception+from+Cade+Klubnik%2C+giving+Clemson+the+7-6+halftime+lead+over+Duke+on+Sept.+4%2C+2023.
Katie Bradham
Running back Will Shipley got the Tigers on the board early in the second quarter on a 2-yard reception from Cade Klubnik, giving Clemson the 7-6 halftime lead over Duke on Sept. 4, 2023.

Clemson leads Duke 7-6 at halftime of the season opener. Here are a few notes and takeaways from the first half:

Offense/Special Teams
— Clemson quarterback Cade Klubnik looked shaky to start the game, almost throwing an interception on the Tigers’ first drive of the game on a pass intended for Jake Brinningstool. He eased into the game in the second quarter, connecting with Will Shipley on a 2-yard score to give the Tigers their first lead of the game. Overall, Klubnik completed 13 of 19 pass attempts for 67 yards, one touchdown and zero interceptions.

—Clemson was using a rotation on the left side of its offensive line in the first half. Tristan Leigh received the start at left tackle for the Tigers’ first two drives of the game before redshirt freshman Collin Sadler stepped in for the next few possessions. Marcus Tate and Mitchell Mayes also shared playing time at the left guard spot.

—The starting wide receivers were Beaux Collins, Cole Turner and Antonio Williams. Adam Randall and Tyler Brown also received significant snaps. Williams was the only Clemson wide receiver to record at least two receptions in the first half.

—Duke blocked Robert Gunn’s first field goal attempt of the season on a 41-yard attempt. Clemson defensive end Cade Denhoff failed to block any Duke defender off the edge on Gunn’s attempt.

—Linebacker Wade Woodaz recovered a fumble on a Duke punt return in the second quarter, setting up the Klubnik-to-Shipley score. The fumble recovery came immediately after the Duke student section was chanting, “overrated.”

Defense

—Defense wins games or at least halves. Clemson’s defense kept the Tigers alive in the first half, led by linebacker Jeremiah Trotter Jr., who had five total tackles. The Blue Devils were limited to just 39 rushing yards, and quarterback Riley Leonard was forced to throw out of bounds multiple times as the defensive line closed in on him. Lenoard completed 12 of his 24 attempts in the half.

—Despite giving up easy yardage at times, the Tigers’ defense forced the Blue Devils to kick field goals on two separate occasions.

—Cornerback Jeadyn Lukus started the game opposite Sheridan Jones before Nate Wiggins eventually subbed in for Lukus. Wiggins and Jones were the two primary cornerbacks last year.

—Freshman defensive tackle Peter Woods made his collegiate debut, displaying his athleticism for his size. In his limited action, he had a quarterback hurry early in his first appearance and appears to be living up to the five-star hype.

—With just seconds left in the half and the ball in the possession of Blue Devil Jaquez Moore, an attempted rush up the middle was met with a loss of six yards and a forced fumble from Trotter which was recovered by Clemson safety Andrew Mukuba at the Tigers’ 32-yard line.

—Barrett Carter, Andrew Mukuba and Jalyn Phillips had four total tackles apiece.

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About the Contributors
Grace O'Donnell, Sports Editor
Justin Robertson, Associate Editor
Katie Bradham, Senior Videographer
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