Furman players, staff, and fans should have walked away from Clemson's Death Valley with their shoulders and chins held high despite the 35-12 defeat at the hands of the lone FBS opponent of the season, the #5 Clemson Tigers.
The Dins came into the Death Valley looking to repeat their impressive showing against North Greenville the previous Thursday. Despite coming off a 41-10 victory last Monday against Georgia Tech, Clemson hoped to fix many issues after a somewhat sluggish offensive performance.
However, the Paladins fell short early on as Clemson QB DJ Uiagalelei rifled multiple passes over the middle, leading to a go-ahead one-yard touchdown run by RB Will Shipley. To the awe of the 80,000 Clemson football fans in attendance, the mighty Paladin offense, unfazed by the crowd's deafening roar, took the field and silenced them all.
With his sixth sense for oncoming pressure, QB Tyler Huff was able to maneuver his way out of the pocket on multiple occasions to make accurate throws to TE Ryan Miller and RB Dominic Roberto. These sharp daggers against Clemson's defense allowed the Dins to get on the board only seven minutes into the first quarter with a field goal by Axel Lepvreau. From this point on, it became apparent Furman's mission was to hang in the game as long as possible against the college football juggernaut of the Clemson Tigers.
It was by halftime that Clemson's glaring tackling issues were apparent as the Dins rallied down the field for a touchdown at the hands of a laser by QB Tyler Huff to TE Ryan Miller.
Despite multiple possessions ending in punts, the Dins offense held as they made the Clemson secondary get their exercise throughout the game. Ultra-athletic catches by WR Joshua Harris and Wayne Anderson Jr. were able to keep Clemson's defensive coordinator Wes Goodwin on his heels.
QB Tyler Huff finished the game with an impressive 256 yards on 30/39 passing, including a touchdown. RB Myion Hicks led the way in rushing with 66 yards on five attempts, and TE Ryan Miller adorned the offensive performance with 13 receptions for 95 yards and a touchdown.
Clemson's thirty five points did not tell the story on the defensive side of the ball. Kam Brinson was able to snag away a lousy throw by Uiagalelei, while a muffed and recovered punt on special teams by the Dins truly shone a bad light on Clemson as pollsters from the Associated Press will no longer turn a blind eye on these issues come conference play for the Tigers.
As the Dins return to campus and hit the practice field, they will certainly hope to use their gained experience from Saturday's game and apply it to their conference opener at East Tennessee State this coming Saturday. Go Dins!