Football Bowl Subdivision
                === Tigers welcome Paladins to Death Valley ===
 Clemson, SC (Sports Network) - The No. 11 Clemson Tigers will have a final
 tuneup this weekend against the Furman Paladins at Memorial Stadium before
 beginning Atlantic Coast Conference play next weekend.
 Furman is coming off a disappointing 24-21 loss to Samford in its last
 contest. A 27-yard field goal from Cameron Yaw with 37 seconds left in
 regulation proved to be the difference and dropped the Paladins to 0-2 on the
 Clemson is off to a 2-0 start this season after a statement win over Auburn
 (23-17) and a dominant 52-27 win over Ball State. The Tigers gave a glimpse of
 how explosive they can be in the game with 45 of their points coming in the
 first half, including a second quarter in which the Tigers put up 32. Clemson
 also opened last season 2-0 en route to an 8-0 start.
 Even though Furman and Clemson do not share a common conference or even a
 common level in the NCAA (Furman is an FCS program) these teams do have a long
 history. In fact Furman is Clemson's oldest rival with the teams first meeting
 way back in 1896. Clemson won that game 14-6 to set the tone for a series that
 the Tigers have dominated with a 41-10-4 record all-time against the Paladins.
 It wasn't just the score that was tight in Furman's defeat against Samford, as
 the teams were almost identical in terms of offensive production. Furman
 finished with 359 yards of total offense in the game which was just behind
 Samford which had 366.
 The Paladins favored the run in the contest with 43 rushing attempts netting
 the squad 158 yards. Jerodis Williams led the way with 98 yards on 20 carries
 and a touchdown. Furman also got the majority of its first downs on the ground
 with 10-of-19 coming on run plays. The other nine were broken up among pass
 plays and penalties.
 Through the air the Paladins did wind up with 201 yards, but quarterback
 Dakota Derrick completed only 11-of-25 passes and was intercepted three times.
 The offensive line didn't do him any favors allowing three sacks. The
 inability to consistently complete passes hurt the team, especially on third
 down where the Paladins went 3-for-13 on conversion attempts. Will King was
 the most dangerous receiver on the field for Furman with 89 yards and a score
 on four receptions.
 Defensively speaking Furman did a solid job against Samford in allowing an
 almost mirror image of its own offensive production. Samford had three less
 first down (16) than the Paladins and also converted only 4-of-15 attempts on
 third down. The defense was unable to create pressure on Samford's quarterback
 Andy Summerlin who completed 23-of-37 passes for 216 yards and a pair of
 scores. The pass defense also made a costly error on the final drive with a
 pass interference penalty on a third and 12.
 In terms of individual performances Mitch Mcgrath and Gary Wilkins led the
 team with 10 tackles each, while Matt Solomon had eight tackles and a team-
 high two pass breakups.
 The big news for the Clemson Tigers this week is that star wide receiver Sammy
 Watkins will return to the lineup. Watkins was considered a dark horse Heisman
 candidate before being suspended for the first two games of this season. The
 sophomore wideout is coming of a freshman campaign in which he caught 82
 passes for 1,219 yards and 12 scores, all team-highs.
 Even without Watkins, the Clemson offense has been impressive in the early
 season thanks to a stable of offensive playmakers. Chief among them may be
 the second receiver on the depth chart, DeAndre Hopkins. The junior caught six
 passes for 105 yards including three touchdowns in the win over Ball State
 last weekend.
 "It just felt great to come out and make plays for my team," Hopkins said,
 "Coach (Chad) Morris trusts me to put the ball in my hands. I just wanted to
 come out for my team."
 Quarterback Tahj Boyd will now have even more weapons to work with after he
 completed 19-of-23 passes for 229 yards and three scores in just the first
 half of play against Ball State. Watkins' return could also open up the
 running game a bit for Andre Ellington, who is coming off a 1,000-yard season
 but had only 41 yards against Ball State on 13 carries.
 Overall Clemson racked up 526 total yards in the win, converted 12-of-18 third
 down chances and capitalized on all five red zone trips with touchdowns. The
 Tigers are now the top-ranked offense in the ACC (527 ypg).
 The defense for Clemson was slightly less successful but with a number of
 starters being pulled early on that is to be expected. Overall the Tigers
 allowed 380 total yards to Ball State, the majority of which (252) came on the
 ground. The offense did make the most of Ball State's mistakes though with a
 pair of interceptions in the game, while also holding the Cardinals to a 3
 for-14 conversion rate on third down.
 Stephone Anthony led the team with nine tackles and an interception. DeShawn
 Williams was a force up front in the game with the only sack for the Tigers
 and two total tackles for loss.
 "We're getting there. It's like (defensive coordinator Brent) Venables said,
 we just have to keep going," Williams said while acknowledging there is room
 to improve especially against the run, "We have to get ready for ACC play. I
 know we will. We have too much pride to let people run on us. We'll be ready
 next week."
 09/12 10:46:55 ET