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Friday, December 8, 2023

No. 9 Clemson, Duke open vying for ACC edge


In a particular faculty version of ESPN’s “Monday Night time Soccer,” No. 9 Clemson travels to face Duke for a season-opening Atlantic Coast Convention conflict in Durham, N.C.

The matchup marks Clemson’s first step in defending its ACC crown.

For Duke, it is a possibility to point out that final yr’s marketing campaign — the primary below coach Mike Elko — wasn’t a fluke.

The Blue Devils went 9-4 below Elko, their highest win whole since 2014 and simply the seventh time in program historical past that they received no less than 9 video games.

A victory over Clemson — which has lengthy dominated the league — would go alongside means in boosting expectations and credibility for Duke.

“They’ve completed as a lot as any ACC program has for the reason that ACC has come collectively like this on this method,” Elko mentioned of Clemson. “To get them within the opener … is a chance for our program, nevertheless it’s additionally an enormous problem.”

Clemson went 11-3 final season, its 14th full marketing campaign below Dabo Swinney.

Whereas most packages could be elated to have an 11-win season, some Tigers followers may take into account it to be underwhelming contemplating Clemson did not make the Faculty Soccer Playoff for the second straight yr. The Tigers additionally misplaced their bowl sport to Tennessee and fell of their regular-season finale to in-state rival South Carolina, a outcome that snapped a seven-game successful streak over the Gamecocks.

The Tigers notice that expectations are at all times excessive.

“This isn’t only a common college the place you attempt to get six wins or 10 wins or one thing like that,” defensive finish Xavier Thomas advised The Clemson Insider. “We’re coming to win the entire thing. That’s simply our mindset, and we’re taking it sport by sport.”

Sandwiched between these two defeats to SEC opponents was a win for Clemson within the ACC championship sport over North Carolina, a sport during which Swinney benched junior quarterback DJ Uiagalelei and began freshman Cade Klubnik as a substitute. It paid off, as Klubnik accomplished 20 of 24 passes for 279 yards and a landing whereas operating for one more rating because the Tigers received 39-10.

Uiagalelei has since transferred to Oregon State, that means the Klubnik now has the keys to the offense.

“He is the whole lot you could possibly need in a quarterback. He is extremely expert. He is a pure chief. He is a fitness center rat. He is received the skillset and accuracy,” Swinney mentioned of Klubnik. “Bodily, he has come a good distance. He was about 179 kilos when he received right here. He is 203-204 now. He is simply in a extremely good place, bodily.”

One adjustment for Klubnik will likely be getting used to new play-caller Garrett Riley. Swinney employed him away from TCU to be the Tigers’ new offensive coordinator.

Nevertheless, a lot of Klubnik’s offensive weapons would be the identical. Operating again Will Shipley is again after totaling 1,424 yards and 15 touchdowns from scrimmage final season. Antonio Williams, who hauled in 56 catches for 604 yards and 4 TDs, returns at receiver, too. The Tigers additionally carry again 4 of 5 starters on the offensive line.

On protection, Clemson has to interchange 4 NFL draft picks however will nonetheless be anchored by stellar linebacker duo Barrett Carter and Jeremiah Trotter Jr., who mixed for twenty-four tackles for losses final yr.

Duke returns its justifiable share of standouts, too, together with 98 p.c of its offensive manufacturing. Junior quarterback Riley Leonard is again below heart after totaling 33 touchdowns and greater than 3,600 yards of whole offense final season.

On protection, the Blue Devils carry again defensive lineman DeWayne Carter and security Brandon Johnson, every of whom had 5.5 sacks final season. Fifth-year senior Ja’Mion Franklin — who had three sacks and 5 move breakups final season — joins Carter as an anchor on the defensive entrance.

“Clearly, there’s one other step we are able to take, and we satisfaction ourselves in getting higher day-after-day,” Franklin mentioned. “Whether or not it’s the little issues like our palms, our footwork, and in the end, our effort … there’s undoubtedly ranges to go.”

Clemson is 37-16-1 all-time in opposition to Duke and has a five-game successful streak vs. the Blue Devils.

—Discipline Degree Media


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