Clemson's Cornell Powell (17) pulls in a reception while defended by Furman's Quandarius Weems during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 1, 2018, in Clemson, S.C. (AP Photo/Richard Shiro)

No. 2 Clemson pounds Furman 48-7, QB question unanswered

September 01, 2018 - 1:45 pm

CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) — Freshman Trevor Lawrence threw three touchdown passes and No. 2 Clemson scored on all five of his drives in the Tigers' 48-7 victory over Furman on Saturday in the opener for both teams.

Even with Lawrence's impressive debut, going 9 for 15 for 137 yards and no interceptions, senior starter Kelly Bryant also shined. He went 10 for 16 for 127 yards and a touchdown and ran five times for 44 yards and another score.

It was the romp everyone expected as Clemson overmatched the Paladins from the Football Championship Subdivision. And It also didn't answer the question of whether one quarterback deserved all the snaps.

"It's good to have multiple guys out there playing. Each of them made some good plays — had some good moments. And each of them had some things they would like to take back," co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott said.

The Tigers' front four on defense — who may all end up as NFL first-rounders — dominated Furman's option attack. The Paladins gained just 163 yards and the one touchdown came with 1:18 left after Clemson emptied its bench on a steamy afternoon.

"We didn't have a shutout. We didn't allow zero yards. So we're always improving," said defensive lineman Christian Wilkins, who skipped a likely high draft spot to return after Clemson's loss to Alabama last season in the playoff semifinals.

Both Clemson quarterbacks showed signs of brilliance and some shortcomings. Lawrence's best pass was a 40-yard strike where only Cornell Powell could get to it when Furman jumped offside and the freshman recognized he had a free play. Several of Lawrence's incompletions were behind receivers or overthrown.

"It's made me better," Lawrence said of having to compete for the job after four years as a star in high school, breaking several records set by Deshaun Watson, the former Tigers star who shoved aside a veteran as a freshman to start in 2014.

Bryant, who started every game in Clemson's playoff run last year, threw several passes at the feet of his receivers. He did show some nice moves on a 35-yard touchdown run — mobility Lawrence doesn't quite have. Bryant has thrown for 15 touchdowns and run for 15 TDs in his career.

He also was one of the first players to congratulate Lawrence when he scored his first college touchdown.

"I've been in his shoes," Bryant said. "My first touchdown, Deshaun congratulated me."

THE TAKEAWAY

Furman: Nobody appeared to be injured. The Paladins picked up $360,000 for their short trip to Death Valley. The ride back to Greenville is about 30 miles and the bus has air conditioning.

Clemson: A no pressure, no injury opener was just what the Tigers wanted. Freshman running back Lyn-J Dixon ran six times for 89 yards in an impressive debut. Kicker Greg Huegel returned from a knee injured suffered in practice last September to make five extra points and two field goals, including a 49-yarder. The Tigers haven't lost to a Southern Conference team since 1952 (the year they left for the Atlantic Coast Conference) and are now 33-0 against FCS teams, winning by less than 10 points just once.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

The No. 2 team in the country beating a FCS team by 41 isn't going to move the poll needle much — unless No. 1 Alabama loses.

UP NEXT

Furman: The Paladins get to face someone their own size when they head to Elon.

Clemson: Everyone will get a better idea if this year's Tigers should be a favorite to make a fourth straight playoff appearance as they head to Texas A&M.

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