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Halftime musings: No. 4 Clemson at Notre Dame

David Ferrara, Editor-in-Chief

Clemson’s defensive line faces off against Notre Dame’s special teams unit during the first half of the Tigers’ matchup with Notre Dame in Notre Dame Stadium on Nov. 5, 2022. 

At halftime, Clemson is down 14-0 against Notre Dame. Here are our halftime thoughts on the Tigers’ performance in the first half. 
Offense/Special teams
— Clemson’s special teams had a rough start to the game, allowing Aidan Swanson’s punt to be blocked and returned for a touchdown at the 9:08 mark in the first quarter, giving the Irish a 7-0 lead at the 9:08 mark in the first quarter. The special teams mishaps were exacerbated in the second quarter when Swanson’s punt was tipped to set Notre Dame’s offense up on its own 47-yard line — although Clemson’s defense held the Irish scoreless on the ensuing drive. 
— DJ Uiagalelei finished the first half completing 75 percent of his passes for just 41 passing yards. While the junior signal-caller didn’t make any mistakes as he did two weeks ago vs. Syracuse, he didn’t make any noteworthy plays either. Most of his competitions were check-downs or screen passes, as he finished the first half with 4.6 yards per completion. The Irish also sacked Uiagalelei twice times. Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney may not put in Cade Klubnik at all this game, but if the Tigers don’t come out hot in the second half, a change may be imminent. 
— If there was a bright spot on the Tigers’ offense in the first half, it was running back Will Shipley. The sophomore had 52 rushing yards on seven carries. 
— Clemson offensive coordinator Brandon Streeter should try and find ways to give wide receiver Antonio Williams the ball. While one of Williams’ two receptions was a 4-yard loss, his first catch was a 15-yard gain on a screen pass. Williams is one of the Tigers’ most dynamic playmakers, and Clemson’s offense needs a spark to give them some fuel to mount a comeback.
— Clemson’s defensive unit wore down slowly in the first half, holding the Irish scoreless until the final minute of the half. Notre Dame quarterback Drew Pyne finally found the end zone on a 5-yard run with 38 seconds remaining.
— Short drives and offensive mistakes not only hurt Clemson’s chances of scoring, it also keeps the defense on the field for longer, hardly giving defenders a chance to rest on the sideline. The Notre Dame run game wore the Tigers’ defensive line down throughout the half, who gave up 6.3 yards per carry in the second quarter compared to just 3.5 yards per carry in the first.
— Trenton Simpson was once again Mr. Everywhere for the Clemson defense, responsible for six tackles and a pass breakup on third-and-short.
— The Tigers’ defense held strong on third down, allowing a conversion on three of seven attempts.
— Quarterback pressure has propelled Clemson to having multiple defensive stands. Defensive end Myles Murphy ended Notre Dame’s first drive with a sack, and Tyler Davis stifled Notre Dame’s offense twice with a third-down quarterback pressure and a third-down batted ball, which led to a missed 42-yard field goal.

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