Clemson football has nation's No. 2 run defense. Here's the challenge Tigers face in staying there

CLEMSON – Clemson football defensive end Myles Murphy offered a simple assessment of the team’s success against N.C. State on Saturday.

“Our D-line was dialed in and linebackers were doing their thing,” Murphy said.

That “thing” primarily focused on stuffing N.C. State’s running game, which the Tigers did with great success.

The Wolfpack was held to a season-low 34 yards rushing, 123.5 yards below their season average, and 1.6 yards per attempt. Their longest run from scrimmage was 8 yards.

“You saw the heart and soul of our team,” first-year defensive coordinator Wes Goodwin said. “It was really cool to see.”

NIGHT MOVESClemson football schedule now includes the Tigers' fifth night game of the 2022 season

MR. VERSATILITYClemson safety Andrew Mukuba also listed as cornerback on Tigers' latest depth chart

OFF THE CUFFA play that Clemson coach Dabo Swinney drew up on the sideline capped Tigers' win vs. NC State

Goodwin also thinks it’s cool that his unit has risen to second in the nation in run defense, allowing 69.6 yards per game.

“With the talent that we have up front and the mindset that we have, I expect us to be up there,” Goodwin said. “That says a lot about your defense. We talk about physicality and there’s no better stat that measures that than rushing defense.

“Hopefully we continue that trend throughout the second half of the season – controlling the line of scrimmage, making teams one-dimensional.”

The odds are stacked in Clemson’s favor this week when the No. 5 Tigers (5-0, 3-0 ACC) play at Boston College (2-3, 1-2) on Saturday (7:30 p.m., ABC). The Eagles rank last in the league and 129th nationally in rushing offense, but things may get tougher soon.

Clemson’s schedule includes opponents that rank first, second and fourth in the ACC in rushing in Louisville, Florida State and Syracuse.

Clemson linebacker Keith Maguire (30) tackles North Carolina State Wolfpack running back Demie Sumo-Karngbaye (0) during the third quarter at Memorial Stadium in Clemson, South Carolina Saturday, October 1, 2022.
Clemson linebacker Keith Maguire (30) tackles North Carolina State Wolfpack running back Demie Sumo-Karngbaye (0) during the third quarter at Memorial Stadium in Clemson, South Carolina Saturday, October 1, 2022.

“We’ve been improving every week,” Goodwin said. “If we keep doing that, it’ll be a good end to the year.”

Also noteworthy is that Clemson’s run defense has been solid if not spectacular even in the absence of many of its top defensive linemen. Preseason All-ACC pick Bryan Bresee will miss his third game Saturday and fellow interior lineman Tyler Davis has missed two games. Standout defensive end Xavier Thomas, who’s still recovering from preseason foot surgery, has yet to play in 2022.

“It shows a lot about our depth,” junior linebacker Keith Maguire said. “We talked a lot in the preseason about how our depth was going to be really important. We’ve been able to step up when guys are out and not miss a beat. That’s a good sign for us. It’s a sign that everyone’s working hard, doing their job and it’s a good sign for later in the season when we’re really going to need our depth. We know we can rely on each other.”

This article originally appeared on Greenville News: Clemson football run defense No. 2 in nation. Can Tigers stay there?