Inside Slant

The Sports Xchange

September 11, 2018 at 9:04 pm.

No. 2 Tigers show flash on offense

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney was hopeful that his talented offensive skill players would produce more big plays this season.

So far, so good.

In two games the No. 2-ranked Tigers (2-0) have six plays that he considers “explosive.”

“We’ve had six explosive plays of 40 yards or more in two games,” Swinney said. “To put that in perspective, I think we had 11 all of last year in 14 games. So it has been a big emphasis for us to be explosive offensively and get that part back in our offense like we had two years ago.

“That’s a real positive. We’re No. 1 in the nation when it comes to that. There’s nobody in the country who has six 40-yard plays, but we’ve got to continue to try to find ways to be explosive.”

As an added bonus, all six of the explosive plays this season have been produced by youthful talent, with sophomore wide receiver/kick return specialist Amari Rodgers leading the way.

Rodgers had a 40-yard touchdown reception and a 62-yard punt return in Clemson’s season-opening victory against Furman, then added a 64-yard catch last week against Texas A&M. Fellow sophomore wide receiver Tee Higgins produced two explosive plays against the Aggies — a 64-yard touchdown grab and a 50-yard reception — while freshman running back Lyn-J Dixon had a 61-yard run against Furman.

Swinney expects the Tigers’ penchant for big plays to be tested Saturday against Georgia Southern (2-0), a Sun Belt team that is playing Clemson for the first time.

“They’ve only given up one explosive play in two games, that’s it, so we have a big challenge there,” Swinney said.

Despite that, the Tigers are 36-point favorites. But Swinney isn’t buying that line.

“They’ve won six national championships at the FCS level,” Swinney said of the Eagles, who joined the FBS ranks in 2014. “This is a team that gone into the swamp (at the University of Florida) and won and gone to Alabama and rushed for 300 yards (in 2011) and lost by six points (against Georgia) in Athens.

“This is a team that will not be intimidated. It’s a very proud program with a history of success.”