Harper's play this season has been disappointing. Clearly, there was a huge drop off when Spiller came out with Harper spelling him. Would we not be better rotating Spiller and Ellington until Harper learns to run without tip-toe'ing into the hole? Harper was supposed to be the big, powerful back who also had some speed to go with the power. We have seen none of this so far. After wasting a redshirt last year by fumbling in the Bammer game, Harper has not lived up to the hype coming out of high school. Ellington has been more effective so far. With Harper half ass running, I would much rather roll the dice with a smaller running back even in short yardage scenarios.
The Chinese fire drill at the end of the football game was ridiculous and unacceptable. Even without a timeout, Clemson should have been able to get a first down (it was 3rd and 1 with about 30 sec to go) to stop the clock and reset the offense. Instead, the Tigers waste a bunch of time, botch a fucking snap, then waste another ton of time. It is 3rd and freaking 1 at the end of the game people. Line up, run the qb sneak, get the first down, regroup. Clemson wasted at least 2 more shots at the endzone by screwing around late
It is pretty evident that there are some major issues with Clemson finishing off drives, and I don't think that there are any answers yet. Good football teams get 7 almost every time they move the ball into the redzone. That being said, I thought the way Swinney handled the game late was less than impressive. IMO, Swinney should not have called the first timeout to "think about" what to do. I would have kicked the damn field goal, reduced the TCU lead to 2 and played defense. Let's face it, there is no real reason to think that Clemson can score with the ball inside the 20...kick, play defense, use timeouts, and try to win with a late field goal--side note, had Jackson nailed the medium ranged field goal earlier, there would be no decision to be made.
Clemson has a big problem with its redzone offense...2 TD's in 12 or 13 tries is unacceptable and will lose you football games. This has to be fixed. PERIOD.
The line appeared to play pretty well today. Credit is given when it is due. Hopefully Walker at the RT spot will be a solution once Hairston is healthy again. I will attribute this improvement to Pearman's influence, as Fat Brad hasn't really done much with the line since he has been here and he doesn't coach the tackles anymore.
I think the honeymoon for the Dabo/Napier playcalling duo is about to come to a close. I am also confused by the jumbling of formations and disconnect with the flow in playcalling. Clemson runs consistently in the "I" for a few plays, then inexplicably moves to a 5-wide set. While some coaches (Ralph F. in his GT offensive coordinator comes immediately to mind) use multiple formations to run a few core plays to exploit matchup issues, I do not think this is the case. Often, it seems as though the coaches are hell-bent on running a few plays and will insert them just to run them. This continuity and the offensive flow will be something to pay attention to over the next few weeks.
Clemson has to incorporate more than Spiller and Ford into the offense. It is pathetic that we do not have a wide receiver who can fun a half decent route, nor one who can go up and get the football. Besides Ford or Spiller, it does not appear as though Parker is extremely confident with other receivers. CU will need other threats to keep defenses honest and allow Parker more targets down field.
Kyle Parker appears less and less comfortable. He looks like he is throwing off of his back foot a good bit and has to deliver the football before he (or the receiver) is ready. On item that I would like to see more out of KP is making positive yardage with his feet. There have been several occurrences in which Parker has moved out of the pocket with open space in front of him. Parker often tries to do a little much (see interception against GT, where he under threw across his body a wide-open Ford instead of tucking the ball, getting the 3rd down conversion, and moving the offense down the field). Once again, KP is a freshman and will only get better with experience. I expect him to improve greatly between TCU and the end of the season.
The defense overall played well enough to win. There was the fluke pass during the 1st quarter (these things are almost a stroke of luck, and they happen...not too much to bitch about other than just bad luck). Clemson had a good bit of trouble with the qb inside. This is a basic play run by a lot of teams with agile quarterback play. Georgia Tech killed us with a similar play. Defensively, we have a few issues with coverages, but are in a pretty good situation entering into the heart of conference play.
Special teams were pretty bland (compared to previous weeks) with the Tigers missing a very routine 35 (or so) yard field goal in the fourth qtr (this is big because Clemson's red zone offense isn't worth a shit, and we need all the points we can get--it also would have made it a 2 pt game, allowing the Tigers to kick a game-winning field goal later). I really cannot complain too much about the kicking game, other than say that these kicks must be chip-shots. Overall this season, I have been impressed with R. Jackson.
The trip to College Park this weekend is (hopefully) just what Clemson will need to get back on track. UMd lost to MTSU earlier in the season, and should be a relative speed-bump for the Tigers. Let's hope Clemson doesn't waste opportunities like the '08 UMd game and plays all four quarters.