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Paws up, paws down: Clemson scrapes by Wake Forest

Clemson+quarterback+Cade+Klubnik+%282%29+rushed+for+48+yards+and+a+touchdown+against+Wake+Forest+in+Memorial+Stadium+on+Oct.+7%2C+2023.
Jacob Citron
Clemson quarterback Cade Klubnik (2) rushed for 48 yards and a touchdown against Wake Forest in Memorial Stadium on Oct. 7, 2023.

The Clemson Tigers took down the Wake Forest Deacons in Memorial Stadium by a score of 17-12 on Saturday. Here are some of the highs and lows of the game:

Paws up: Defense plays lights out

The Tigers’ defense played an exceptional game in Death Valley and proved to be the deciding factor in Clemson’s victory over Wake Forest.

Clemson did not make it easy on Wake Forest quarterback Mitch Griffis, as the Tigers sacked him three times in just the first half. One of the sacks came from defensive tackle Ruke Orhorhoro on third down, resulting in a loss of eight yards and preventing the Deacons from scoring a touchdown. Two of them came from linebacker Wade Woodaz, who hadn’t recorded a sack since last year. True freshman defensive end T.J. Parker also added a sack in the fourth quarter, pushing back Griffis for a loss of five yards.

Clemson’s defense also dominated thanks to safety R.J. Mickens, who led the team with nine total tackles and five solo tackles. Close behind Mickens was linebacker Jeremiah Trotter Jr., who had seven total tackles and five solo tackles.

The Tigers stopped the Demon Deacons from getting the ball into Clemson’s end zone until there were less than two minutes left in the game.

Paws down: Turnover bug strikes again

The Tigers’ turnover struggles persisted on Saturday, as just eight minutes into the first quarter, Clemson quarterback Cade Klubnik fumbled the ball at Clemson’s nine-yard line on a quarterback-running back exchange, and Wake Forest defensive lineman Kevin Pointer recovered the ball.

In the second quarter, freshman wide receiver Tyler Brown muffed a punt on Clemson’s 31-yard line, and the Demon Deacons gained possession with three minutes left in the half.

Turnovers have proved to be an issue for Clemson throughout the season, contributing to a Week 1 loss against Duke and again against Florida State, when the Seminoles scored a touchdown off a fumble recovery to tie the game.

Over six games, Clemson has turned the ball over 10 times and has given up 43 points off those giveaways. This time around against Wake Forest, no points were scored off of Clemson’s turnovers. Still, the Tigers can’t seem to get out of their own way this season.

Paws up: Klubnik, Shipley and Mafah find success on the ground

Junior running backs Will Shipley and Phil Mafah had an impressive running performance as a duo on Saturday. Shipley led the team with 97 rushing yards, and Mafah had 63. Klubnik also used his legs when he could not find an open man and totaled 48 yards and one rushing touchdown.

As a team, Clemson had 207 rushing yards on 42 attempts, averaging 4.9 yards per run.

Paws Down: Inconsistency

Clemson has been inconsistent in its ability to pour in points this season. Coming off back-to-back weeks of the offense finding its stride, the Tigers struggled to sustain drives and put points on the board all day against Wake Forest.

As with other games this season, the Tigers’ defense excelled in Week 6, while the offense had its struggles, and the end result was closer than many anticipated.

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Sarah Pepe, Senior Reporter
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