The Hokies’ defense was arguably better in Saturday’s 38-17 loss at
First, consider the competition. The 14th-ranked Tigers are the best team, and by far the most potent offense, Tech has faced this season.
Then, remember the venue. Clemson has won 11 consecutive games at Death Valley and has scored 30-plus points in all 11.
Finally, understand that the Tigers scored one touchdown on an interception return and had scoring drives of 26 and 41 yards set up by other Hokies turnovers.
"The defense played a great game today," quarterback Logan Thomas said. "I can't fault them at all. A couple of the points they gave up were ours."
Coordinator Bud Foster's bunch sacked Tajh Boyd fives times. Clemson had allowed only 10 sacks in its first six games.
The Hokies limited the Tigers' no-huddle spread to 135 yards rushing and 160 passing, both season-lows. The 295 aggregate was barely half their 526-yard average.
"We played well, just not good enough to win," defensive end James Gayle said. "Coach Foster went to the drawing board, and he gave us a great game plan. We knew coming into the game they were going to try to pound us with the run. I feel like we did a great job stopping the run."
Foster's schemes included playing safety Kyshoen Jarrett almost as a linebacker, much closer to the line of scrimmage than usual and often in the middle of the field. Jarrett and linebacker Jack Tyler had team-highs of nine tackles.
Also: Luther Maddy had two sacks for the second straight week, and despite allowing completions of 37 yards to DeAndre Hopkins (touchdown) and 27 yards to Sammy Watkins, cornerbacks Kyle Fuller and Antone Exum fared well in single coverage.
Other notes, numbers and observations:
* Referee Brad Allen's call of a sack when Josh Watson wrapped up Thomas' legs cost the Hokies a first down – the 6-foot-6, 260-pound Thomas easily completed a pass to J.C. Coleman – and baffled Tech coaches.
"I saw a guy standing there with somebody wrapped around his leg getting ready to throw a pass and the whistle blows," quarterbacks coach Mike O'Cain said. "You tell me. I'm not allowed to talk much about that. I've never seen that before in my life. Seen it in the pros because they have an in-the-grasp rule. Never seen it in college."
* After eight games in as many weeks, Tech has 12 days to prepare for a Nov. 1 game at Miami.
"People are kind of down," Gayle said. "But we can't sit here and pout about the loss today. We've got to prepare for Miami. The bye week always helps. We've been going straight since camp, non-stop. It's going to be good to be able to rest our bodies."
Conversely, Clemson has just five days to prepare for Thursday's game at Wake Forest.
* Thomas rushed for a career-high 99 yards on 21 carries, 19 yards coming on a fourth-quarter touchdown, many others on unscripted scrambles.
Tech tailbacks Tony Gregory, Martin Scales, Michael Holmes and Coleman combined for 93 yards on 26 carries.
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