Big trends from college football’s 2019 regular season looked like this: The LSU Tigers’ historic offense dominated. Ohio State looked even stronger with Ryan Day replacing Urban Meyer as head coach. This 300-pound guy cartwheeled mid-play. Tua Tagovailoa suffered a season-ending injury. College kids protested and delayed an Ivy League game. PETA still hates mascots.
But throughout the year, no one really talked about the defending national champions in Clemson, South Carolina. Dabo Swinney’s team started slow, sure, but the Tigers hadn’t lost a football game since January 1, 2018. With 27-straight wins heading into the program’s fifth-straight ACC Championship Game, it’s time to acknowledge how dominant the Clemson Tigers have become.
Let’s start on defense. Led by First-Team All-ACC linebacker Isaiah Simmons — likely a top-10 pick of the 2020 NFL Draft — Clemson ranks No. 1 nationally in scoring defense (10.1 points per game). The Tigers are No. 1 in pass defense, allowing a mind-bogglingly low 126.5 yards per game. The team is second in total defense, seventh in turnover margin, and first in first downs allowed.
Translation: good luck finding a weakness on defense.
Now, how about the offense? Averaging 541.8 yards of total offense per game (3rd) with a two-pronged attacking running and throwing the football, the Tigers score 45.3 points per game (4th). Clemson scored at least 50 points six times during the regular season — only LSU and Ohio State matched that number — and beat 10 of its opponents by at least 21 points.
Translation: good luck finding a weakness on offense.
ACC Player of the Year
On Dec. 3, the ACC confirmed Clemson’s onslaught of the conference when it named junior running back Travis Etienne the Atlantic Coast Conference Football Player of the Year for the second-straight season. Etienne is the seventh person to win Player of the Year honors twice, and the first running back to do so since UNC’s Mike Voight in 1975-76.
The ACC Offensive Player of the Year ranks No. 1 nationally averaging 8.25 yards per carry, ninth with 18 total touchdowns and 10th with 1,386 rushing yards. In Clemson’s final game against South Carolina, the 210-pound running back became the ACC’s all-time leader in career touchdowns (57) and rushing touchdowns (53).
In addition, safety-turned-linebacker Isaiah Simmons was nearly unanimous as ACC Defensive Player of the Year, earning 42 votes while no other player had more than four.
Not surprisingly, Clemson’s dynamic duo were two of 16 Tigers named to an All-ACC team, which doubles any other program.
2019 All-ACC Football Teams
QB – Trevor Lawrence, Clemson
RB – Travis Etienne, Clemson
RB – AJ Dillon, Boston College
WR – Sage Surratt, Wake Forest
WR – Tee Higgins, Clemson
WR – Tutu Atwell, Louisville
TE – Brevin Jordan, Miami
AP – Joe Reed, Virginia
OT – Tremayne Anchrum, Clemson
OT – Mehki Becton, Louisville
OG – John Simpson, Clemson
OG – John Phillips, Boston College
C – Jimmy Morrissey, Pitt
DE – Gregory Rousseau, Miami
DE – Carlos Basham, Wake Forest
DT – Jaylen Twyman, Pitt
DT – Marvin Wilson, Florida State
LB – Isaiah Simmons, Clemson
LB – Chazz Surratt, North Carolina
LB – Shaquille Quarterman, Miami
CB – Caleb Farley, Virginia Tech
CB – A.J. Terrell, Clemson
S – Paris Ford, Pitt
S – Tanner Muse, Clemson
PK – Nick Sciba, Wake Forest
P – Sterling Hofrichter, Syracuse
SP – Joe Reed, Virginia
QB – Bryce Perkins, Virginia
RB – Cam Akers, Florida State
RB – Javian Hawkins, Louisville
WR – Dazz Newsome, North Carolina
WR – Tamorrion Terry, Florida State
WR – Trishton Jackson, Syracuse
TE – Noah Gray, Duke
AP – Hassan Hall, Louisville
OT – Charlie Heck, North Carolina
OT – Ben Petrula, Boston College
OG – Gage Cervenka, Clemson
OG – Zion Johnson, Boston College
C – Sean Pollard, Clemson
DE – Patrick Jones II, Pitt
DE – Victor Dimukeje, Duke
DT – Larrell Murchison, NC State
DT – Tyler Davis, Clemson
LB – Rayshard Ashby, Virginia Tech
LB – Max Richardson, Boston College
LB – Michael Pinckney, Miami (FL)
CB – Dane Jackson, Pitt
CB – Derion Kendrick, Clemson
S – Hamsah Nasirildeen, Florida State
S – Andre Cisco, Syracuse
PK – Christopher Dunn, NC State
P – Dom Maggio, Wake Forest
SP – Damond Philyaw-Johnson, Duke
QB – Sam Howell, North Carolina
RB – Jordan Mason, Georgia Tech
RB – Michael Carter, North Carolina
WR – Kendall Hinton, Wake Forest
WR – Maurice Ffrench, Pitt
WR – Dyami Brown, North Carolina
TE – Hunter Long, Boston College
AP – Maurice Ffrench, Pitt
OT – Justin Herron, Wake Forest
OT – Jackson Carman, Clemson
OG – Bryce Hargrove, Pitt
OG – Nate Gilliam, Wake Forest
C – Alec Lindstrom, Boston College
DE – Xavier Thomas, Clemson
DE – Chris Rumph II, Duke
DT – Jason Strowbridge, North Carolina
DT – Nyles Pinckney, Clemson
LB – Jordan Mack, Virginia
LB – Lakiem Williams, Syracuse
LB – Koby Quansah, Duke
CB – Asante Samuel Jr., Florida State
CB – Essang Bassey, Wake Forest
S – K’Von Wallace, Clemson
S – Joey Blount, Virginia
PK – Andre Szmyt, Syracuse
P – Trenton Gill, NC State
SP – Hassan Hall, Louisville
The conference awarded North Carolina quarterback Sam Howell ACC Rookie of the Year for his record-setting first season. Miami’s Gregory Rousseau earned ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year after racking up 14 sacks, which trails only Ohio State’s Chase Young for the national lead.
The 15th ACC Championship Game between the Atlantic Division champion Clemson Tigers and Coastal Division champion Virginia Cavaliers will be played Dec. 7, 2019 at Bank of American Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina.