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College Football In the Trenches: Without Trevor Lawrence, the Clemson O-Line Will Pave the Way

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College Football In the Trenches: Without Trevor Lawrence, the Clemson O-Line Will Pave the Way

2020-10-31 08:54:09


by Scott Farrell, Contributing Writer; Image: Clemson's Jackson Carmen is among the best offensive linemen in college football. (Image Source: Fred Kfoury III / Icon Sportswire)​

In The Trenches: This Week's Outland Trophy matchups:

Boston College (4-2) at Clemson (6-0), Noon ET on ABC: This week’s top Outland Trophy feature takes us to Clemson, where we get our first matchup featuring the Tigers’ offensive line that has the Tigers pumping at 518.0 yards per game, the 10th-best mark in the country and eighth-best among schools that have played more than one game.

It’s the best challenge yet for Clemson left offensive tackle Jackson Carman (#79, Jr., Fairfield, Ohio), and especially for defensive tackle Tyler Davis (#13, So., Apopka, Fla.), who will be facing up against Boston College offensive tackle Ben Petrula and guard Zion Johnson. It’s a rare meeting of four Watch List players on the same field and gives BC right guard Ben Petrula (#64, Sr., Freehold, N.J.), left tackle Zion Johnson (#77, Sr., Bowie, Md.) and the Eagles their first crack at the nation’s top-ranked team since 2014. 

Line play will be especially crucial for Clemson, which learned earlier in the week that it will be without star QB Trevor Lawrence due to a COVID-19 diagnosis. With Lawrence sidelined and true freshman D.J. Uiagalelei making his first start, the emphasis likely goes to Clemson’s run game and All-America candidate Travis Etienne, who is on the cusp of more national and school records. Etienne has had at least one rushing or receiving TD in 41 of his 49 career games, and should he cross the goal line Saturday in a 42nd career game, he will break the FBS record held by San Diego State’s Donnel Pumphrey from 2013-16. Etienne’s 4,560 career yards leave him only 43 short of the ACC long-standing career rushing record held by N.C. State’s Ted Brown (4,602 from 1975-78). He also seeks a 20th career 100-yard rushing game. 

As for Davis, he missed two games but has started in the middle the last two weeks. He’s coming off a season in which his 6.5 sacks were the second-highest total by a freshman in Clemson history, topped only by Dexter Lawrence’s 7.0 in 2016. And the interior of the Tiger defense has been stout. Clemson has held opponents to 2.0 or fewer yards per carry in 22 games in the College Football Playoff era (since 2014), the second-best in the country, and is 21-1 in those contests. The Tigers opened 2020 with two such performances, allowing only 1.1 yards per carry in its season-opener against Wake Forest and then held The Citadel to 1.8 yards per carry.

For BC, Petrula has 43 consecutive starts at right guard and is a team captain along with Johnson. Both are All-ACC returning and preseason selections inside one of the country’s most experienced offensive lines. They’ve been essential in helping quarterback Phil Jurkovec move into the top 20 nationally averaging 278.5 passing yards per game. The Eagles tied for 17th with 12 TD’s through the air so far.

Clemson has won nine in a row in the series.

Hawai’i (1-0) at Wyoming (1-0), 7:45 p.m. MT Friday on FS1: This is our first look at the Mountain West members that opened their season a week ago, and it’s a great matchup than includes experienced linemen in Hawai’I left tackle Ilm Manning (#75, Jr., Glendale, Ariz.) and Wyoming center Keegan Cryder (#73, Jr., Littleton Colo.). Manning has started all 30 games of his career and had a second-team All-MW season last year. Cryder, a preseason first-team all-league pick, played 769 snaps last year with more than 100 knockdown blocks and allowed only one sack in 2019. 

It’s been an offensive switch on the islands for a team that was fifth nationally in passing offense and No. 13 in total offense in 2019. Hawai’I debuted a run-based attack under new head coach Todd Graham in its opener at Fresno State and ground out 323 rushing yards in a 34-19 win. The 323 yards were UH’s most since 2016 and the most in a season-opener since going for 422 in a 1991 win at Wyoming. With Manning (first name pronounced ‘elm’) up front, the Rainbow Warriors had two 100-yard rushers (Chevan Cordeiro and Miles Reed) for the first time since 2013. 

During the 2019 regular season Cryder played 769 total snaps and led Wyoming with over 100 knockdown blocks. He allowed only one sack for the season and was called for only one penalty. He was a key to the Wyoming offense listing No. 2 in the MW and No. 23 in the NCAA in rushing offense averaging 214.8 rushing yards per game. Cryder and Wyoming were No. 4 in the MW and No. 32 in the nation in fewest sacks allowed (1.62 per game) and combined the offensive line paved the way for four different Cowboys to record 12 100-yard rushing games.

Temple (1-2) at Tulane (2-4), 11 a.m. CT on ESPN Plus: We tag this game into this week’s roundup because the two Watch Listers will be facing each other across the line. 

Tulane left guard Corey Dublin (#64, Sr., New Orleans, La.) made his 44th consecutive start last week and that experience will be key as Tulane starts a true freshman at QB (Michael Pratt) for only the seventh time since 1975. Offense hasn’t been a problem for the Green Wave, as it averages 36.0 points per game to tie for 27th nationally. Tulane enters the weekend having scored 30 or more points in four straight games. Redshirt sophomore running back Cam Carroll has rushed at least two TD’s in three of six games and is tops in the AAC and ninth in the nation in total TD’s. 

Temple defensive tackle Ifeanyi Maijeh (#9, Jr., Far Rockaway, N.Y.) burst onto the scene for the Owls last season logging 52 tackles, 10.0 TFL’s and 6.5 sacks. He has eight tackles in three games with a forced fumble and considered one of the AAC’s top players in the interior line.


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