CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) — Clemson center Will Putnam has his focus on moving forward, not dwelling on the 25th-ranked Tigers’ meltdown in their opening game.

Clemson entered the season as the preseason favorites to defend its Atlantic Coast Conference title this year. Those prospects took a quick hit with its 28-7 loss at No. 21 Duke on Monday night.

Putnam said the defeat was “nothing short of disappointing.” Still, the time looking backward is over with the Tigers (0-1) facing in-state FCS opponent Charleston Southern (1-0) on Saturday.

Putnam’s looking for a strong bounceback showing in the team’s home opener, despite the offensive miscues (two fumbles in the red zone, a Cade Klubnik interception off a tipped ball and Klubnik starting his slide on a run just short of a first down) that doomed the Tigers to their first season-opening loss since 2014.

“We reflected yesterday and, obviously, right after the game,” said Putnam, a 310-pound senior. “But right now for our team, it’s important to move on.”

Does that mean piling on the points in the first-time matchup with a team from a lower subdivision?

“We don’t have to have some miracle, impossible performance, we just have to play good football,” Putnam explained. “If we play good football with the guys we have on this team right now, I think we’ll be alright.”

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney called it a strange game at Duke, given how his team led in yards and first downs. The problem were the miscues where the team couldn’t capitalize on long, successful drives.

“The name of the game is points,” Swinney said. “At the end of the day, you’ve got to finish. The biggest surprise to me was putting the ball on the ground multiple times and that was disappointing.”


Charleston Southern coach Gabe Giardina has a connection to Clemson’s Dabo Swinney: Both were walk-ons at Alabama. In fact, Swinney was running the walk-on program in 2000 for Crimson Tide coach Mike Shula when Giardina walked on. What Swinney’s seen of the Buccaneers has impressed him.

“They’ve got some guys on both sides of the ball,” he said. “They’re not going to have similar depth that we have. But they’ve got some guys that can create some problems for you.”


Swinney re-opened competition at place kicker after freshman Robert Gunn III had two field goals blocked on what Swinney described as low kicks.

Swinney still has confidence in Gunn and expects him to handle adversity and come back strong. The coach said Gunn was supported by his teammates, who’ve seen him succeed throughout spring and fall football camps.

“But he’s got to go do it” in games, Swinney said. “And if you don’t, you have to give someone else a chance.”


Giardina, a longtime Charleston Southern assistant, was hired as head coach after last season to rebuild the Big South Conference program and he got off to a strong start when the Bucs defeated Division II North Greenville 13-10 after falling behind 10-0.

“It’s just so satisfying to me to spend so much time as an assistant (here), come back and put one in the right column,” said Giardina, who spent four years under head coach Jamey Chadwell at Charleston Southern before moving to Albany State for five seasons. “Yeah, it means a lot.”


Charleston Southern has lost all 23 games to Football Bowl Subdivision teams over the past 22 seasons. The Bucs have lost their three games against ACC opponents, including a 55-3 loss to North Carolina State a season ago.

Charleston Southern will receive $400,000 from Clemson for the non-conference game.


Clemson enhanced its Tiger Walk pre-game entrance into the stadium with arch structure and a pathway with the names of all permanent football captains. The walk has been a staple of home games since Swinney took over as interim coach midway through the 2008 season.

Charleston Southern (1-0) at No. 25 Clemson (0-1), Saturday, 2:15 p.m. ET (ACC Network)

Line: No line.

Series record: First meeting.


The chance for Clemson to bounce back and find some offensive rhythm after dropping its opener for the first time since 2014. The Tigers gained 422 yards in a 28-7 loss at Duke, but turned the ball over twice in the red zone and saw another second-half drive ended when quarterback Cade Klubnik slid a yard ahead of the first-down line.


Clemson QB Cade Klubnik vs. Charleston Southern defense. Most eyes at Memorial Stadium will be on Klubnik, who couldn’t generate points as he began his first full season as starter. Klubnik also lost to Tennessee in Clemson’s bowl game and another struggling performance would lead to more questions.


Charleston Southern: DL Laron Davis had two sacks and an interception in the Buccaneers’ 13-10 victory over Division II North Greenville to start the season. The 6-foot-3, 287-pound Davis will have to be as effective this week for Charleston Southern to keep it close.

Clemson: RB Will Shipley was his versatile self as he ran for 114 yards and had a 2-yard TD catch from Klubnik in the loss at Duke.


This is the first meeting between Clemson and Charleston Southern of the FCS’ Big South Conference. … Clemson is 37-0 all-time against teams from the FCS, including a 35-12 win over Furman last season. … The Buccaneers were trailing 10-0 to North Greenville when they rallied in the second half for the 13-10 victory. … Charleston Southern is 0-23 all-time against FBS opponents. … Clemson is 34-2 in home openers, the only losses coming to Marshall in 1999 and Georgia in 2003. A win Saturday would extend Clemson’s program mark to 20 straight victories to start the home season. … Charleston Southern has not had a winning season since going 6-5 under coach Mark Tucker in 2017. …. Between 2013 and 2022, Clemson had won 26 straight against non-conference opponents. That streak ended last November with a South Carolina victory at Death Valley. … Charleston Southern will be the 108th different program Clemson has faced since it began playing football. The Tigers are 65-38-4 when facing a first-time opponent, including winning 16 of their past 17 such contests.