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Musings: Clemson trails Tennessee at halftime in Orange Bowl

Matt Mynes, Photo Editor

Clemson kicker B.T. Potter was 1/4 on field goals in the first half of the 2022 Orange Bowl. 

Here are our takeaways from the first half of the Orange Bowl, with Clemson trailing 14-3 to Tennessee at the break. 

Offense/Special teams

— B.T. Potter is having one of the worst games of his career so far, missing three of four field goal attempts in the first half. After missing from 55, 49 and 42 yards, the veteran kicker finally put the Tigers on the board with a 31-yard make at the 5:11 mark in the second quarter. Potter has cemented himself as one of the most consistent college kickers over the past few seasons, but he was uncharacteristically inaccurate in the first half.

— Clemson’s decision to attempt a fake field goal on its first offensive possession was a bit puzzling. It would have been a 44-yard field goal attempt for B.T. Potter, who has been impeccable all season up until tonight. Especially after the Tigers’ defense secured a stop on the Vols’ first possession, taking an early 3-0 lead might have been the right move for Clemson.

— Making his first career start, Cade Klubnik had a decent first half, completing 16 of 29 passes for 201 yards. He has taken multiple hard hits and has been sacked three times. His mobility has gotten him out of some trouble at times, but the Tigers’ offensive line hasn’t protected him well enough.

— Cole Turner continues to make a name for himself after a strong outing in the ACC Championship game. The true freshman wide receiver saw plenty of action in the first half and caught a 33-yard pass on the Tigers’ first offensive drive of the game. He also forced a defensive pass interference call on a deep ball down the right sideline in the second quarter. With four targets in the first half, Turner could be a difference-maker in the second half. 

— Clemson’s offense outgained the Vols’ by 82 yards in the first half, but with only 3 points to show for it, moving the ball hasn’t meant much. The sequence to end the half when Klubnik ran it on third down as time expired was horrible clock management. 


— Despite missing key contributors in Myles Murphy and Trenton Simpson, Clemson’s pass rush was able to get to Tennessee quarterback Joe Milton. The Tigers logged three sacks in the first half, with Ruke Orhorhoro, Tyler Davis and Bryan Bresee all recording one each. 

— In the first quarter, Clemson lined up several players out of their ordinary positions. Bryan Bresee started the game at defensive end, and defensive end K.J. Henry played a couple of snaps at the cornerback position.

— Freshman cornerback Toriano Pride Jr. broke up a deep pass attempt on third down, leading to a Tennessee punt. The former four-star played tight coverage and was able to get his hand on the pass right as the ball arrived. Aside from the pass breakup, Pride was able to notch three total tackles in the first half. 

— Pride wasn’t the only freshman that made an impact in the opening half. Linebacker Wade Woodaz notched two tackles for loss including one on a third-down rush attempt, forcing a Tennessee punt.

— Tennessee picked on Clemson’s young corners often in the first half. Milton went at freshman cornerback Jeadyn Lukus in coverage to notch his first passing touchdown of the game, as well as targeting Pride on two deep pass attempts. 

— Clemson was able to keep the Tennessee air attack somewhat in check in the first half. Milton threw for 155 yards on 18 attempts but was able to hit wide receiver Squirrel White for a 50-yard completion with safety Andrew Mukuba in coverage, which led to a 2-yard rushing touchdown from Jabari Small on the next play.

— Overall, the Tigers’ defense has kept Clemson in the game. Wes Goodwin’s unit is getting pressure at the line of scrimmage and has been able to limit many big plays. Besides the 50-yard completion, Clemson didn’t allow a completion over 16 yards and only allowed 36 yards on the ground to the Volunteers.


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