How Clemson football has done an about face in red zone success

Scott Keepfer
Greenville News
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CLEMSON – What a difference a year has made for the Clemson football team’s efficiency in the red zone.

Last season, the Tigers’ success rate inside the opponent’s 20-yard line was 80.4%, a figure that that ranked 90th in the country among 130 Football Bowl Subdivision teams.

Through three games of 2022, Clemson has yet to be denied in 18 tries.

“Our red zone efficiency has been really good,” first-year Clemson offensive coordinator Brandon Streeter said. “That’s something we worked on in the offseason and something we’ve been talking about ever since last year that we really needed to improve on.”

So far, so good.

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Fifth-ranked Clemson, which plays at No. 16 Wake Forest on Saturday (noon, ABC), shares the top spot among 131 FBS teams in red zone offense. The Tigers (3-0, 1-0 ACC) have scored on every trip into the red zone this season, with those forays resulting in nine rushing touchdowns, five passing touchdowns and four field goals.

It also has helped to hand the ball to sophomore running back Will Shipley near the end zone. Shipley has scored six touchdowns -- two in each game -- and has 17 touchdowns in 13 career games.

Clemson's newfound success could prove problematic for the Demon Deacons (3-0, 0-0), who are tied for last nationally in red zone defense, having allowed their opponents to come away with points on each of their six trips inside the Wake Forest 20.

So what has changed for the Clemson offense?

“The work we’ve put into it – how much we’ve emphasized the red zone, guys executing down in that red zone area,” Streeter said. “And then whenever we don’t quite get down into the end zone, we’ve got a heck of a kicker who has done an unbelievable job. (Kicker) B.T. (Potter) has been lights out; it’s very comforting knowing that you’re guaranteed points when you get inside that 20-yard line.”

But Streeter prefers touchdowns, to be sure. And the Tigers have responded with touchdowns 78 percent of the time.

“We’ve been very good at that as well,” Streeter said. “And that just comes down to being able to finish and having confidence in finishing.”

Clemson offensive lineman Marcus Tate (74) lifts running back Will Shipley (1) after he ran in a touchdown against Louisiana Tech during the first quarter at Memorial Stadium in Clemson, South Carolina Saturday, September 17, 2022.
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