It was the type of response Tiger nation was dying to see. A response that was going to go a long way from removing the sour taste that the end of the 2011 season left, and instilling confidence that this year’s Clemson team might just be able to replicate some of the success it attained during its ACC Championship run a year ago.
On the very first play of the fourth quarter in last weekends game between Clemson and Auburn with the score tied at 16-16, I and every other Clemson fan in the packed out Georgia Dome let out a collective groan as yet another Tajh Body pass hit off the hands of an intended Clemson receiver. Not only did the drop represent the sixth drop of the game for the Tigers, it also represented Boyd’s first interception as the pass hit off back-up tight end Sam Cooper’s hands and right into the hands of an Auburn linebacker who returned the ball down to the Clemson 35-yard line.
This moment represented the 2012 Clemson football team with their first real taste of adversity since that infamous Orange Bowl of a season ago. We understand that our mental fortitude and ability to bounce back from momentum shifting plays isn’t necessarily what our Tigers are best known for. We’re still wondering how the train came so far off the tracks following West Virginia’s 99-yard fumble return for a touchdown that turned that game from offensive shootout to on-going and completely worn out “West Virginia just scored again” joke.
However in this year’s season opener, this year’s Clemson team showed why last year is exactly that; last year. The Clemson defense held the Auburn offense to yet another field goal inside the redzone and the Clemson offense marched down the field on its very next possession and scored the go ahead touchdown on a five yard fade pass from Boyd to Nuk Hopkins. It was Hopkins’ thirteenth catch of the game, setting the school record for receptions in a single game. The record went along nicely with senior running back Andre Ellington’s 231 yards rushing, the most for any Clemson running back in a season opener, and proof that there are plenty more weapons on this offense than just sophomore sensation wide receiver Sammy Watkins.
Tomorrow marks the first time Clemson will be playing a home game in front of 80,000 strong at Death Valley in five games, a stretch that dates back to early November of last season. The home crowd will be ready to raise a 2011 ACC Championship banner for the first time as well as show their appreciation for the well-fought win last weekend in the Georgia Dome against a solid SEC foe. Most importantly it represents the first time that the Clemson football team will get to stand at the top of the hill for the most exciting entrance in all of college football and get a chance to impress the home crowd in Memorial Stadium. We’re ready to welcome them home. Go Tigers, beat Ball State.