Once again, the Clemson defense found itself on the short end of the stick when the offense wasn’t getting the job done early on in the game. But they answered the call and kept Maryland out of the end zone long enough for the offense to create separation in the second half. Even when the Tigers’ offense committed three costly turnovers, the defense forced four from Maryland en route to the Tigers’ 40-27 victory. Anyone who watched this game can certainly agree that this game was won largely thanks to the play of Clemson’s defense and the leg of kicker Chandler Cantanzaro, who made all four of his attempted field goals.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at this week’s defensive grades:
Defensive line: B
The defensive line wasn’t quite as disruptive as it has been, but it continues its solid production along the front seven. Sack master Vic Beasley notched four tackles on the day, including a sack, moving his total to 10 on the season. Defensive tackle Josh Watson also got his first sack on the season. The defensive line was also key in keeping Maryland quarterback Caleb Rowe under wraps for most of the day, who completed only 19 of his 45 passes for 282 yards, who threw three touchdowns but also tossed two costly interceptions. They were also instrumental in holding the Terps to only 82 rushing yards on the day.
The linebackers kept Maryland’s plan of ball control and running clock under wraps to get their offense back onto the field, only allowing Maryland 82 rushing yards on the ground, holding their second string running back Albert Reid to only 70 yards rushing on 15 carries. Spencer Shuey and Stephone Anthony didn’t amass their usual number of tackles, but their production forced Maryland’s offense to become one dimensional and forced them to throw the ball, testing Clemson’s continually questioned secondary. The front seven also did not allow a rushing touchdown for one of the first times this season.
After surrendering an early 71 yard catch and run by Terps receiver Levern Jacobs, Clemson’s secondary wouldn’t give up another score through the air until the fourth quarter. With Maryland missing two of its top receiving threats in Stefon Diggs and Deon Long, the secondary was able to keep Maryland’s reserves under wraps. Bashaud Breeland‘s impact at cornerback was felt when he returned in the second half for his targeting penatly against FSU, when he forced a fumble that led to a Clemson score and nabbed an interception.