Unfortunately, I did not get a chance to see the game live due to issues with ESPN360 not feeding correctly (I understand quite a few other folks had this issue also), so I will be discussing with generalizations the Coastal Game via Will Merritt and Pete Yanity's PBP and color commentary. I may go back after watching the game film and add extra commentary in another color, if necessary. The State newspaper's perspective can be found here.
**NOTE** I really realize how great Jim Phillips was for Clemson Tiger radio every time I need to listen to CU on the radio. I would like to see the return of Eppley to the booth if possible, and Rodney on the sidelines. Will and Pete are a little cheesy...I guess it could be worse, WCCP could donate Dan Scott or Walt Deptula's services and you would really hear some screaming from yours truly.
On to the game. Clemson moved the ball with relative ease on the first drive. I was disappointed to have the first drive end with an interception...on a screen pass. This is unacceptable. Allegedly, the CC defender made a great break on the football and an overall good play. However, you should never throw a pick on a screen pass, NEVER. Clemson completed a long pass to Ford for a TD, and that is how the quarter ended.
The balance of the first half consisted of a "rope" from Jacoby Ford to Xavier Dye, a touchdown run from CJ Spiller, and another INT from Kyle Parker. I am really not sure why Swinney/Napier chose a wide receiver pass against Coastal, nor am I sure why Swinney would pimp Spiller as a legit Heisman candidate then give him all of five carries on the day, all in the first half. I have no problem saving our best player, but for Spiller to have any shot at a trip to NY he needed some monster stats (especially playing on a three loss team). This would have been the ideal spot to get Spiller the inflated rushing stats needed for CJ to be legit. This also reminded me of Duke last year when Swinney did not give James Davis the carries necessary to try to get closer to some CU rushing records.
Parker's stats were poor, especially when you consider the competition (7/16, 1 TD, 2 INTs for 70 yards). I really expected Parker to have a nice game (or half, as it turned out) against a poor defense. KP will really need to be on top of things next week against the 'Noles, as FSU has put up some points this season. The return of Palmer next week will only help this offense and give Parker a big, sure-handed target.
The Tigers rested the majority of the starters after half. Will Korn played well, completing a TD pass and rushing for another. Ellington showed what we have been talking about all year, breaking one for 50+ after a nice cut and run.
Early, there was a tremendous amount of passing, with the majority of the pitches going to the WR's. I suppose the strategy here is to try to get more receivers game experience and a few grabs. As mentioned before, KP's stats were not good.
The defense played well all afternoon. The starters gave up minimal yards. I would have liked to have held on for the shutout. Otherwise, the Tigers played well defensively. No surprises there.
Overall, this was a garbage game that really taught us nothing. The overall team attitude and excitement level was low, as expected against a lesser team, particularly after a big win on the road against Miami. There was a brief bit of concern over the magnitude of Bowers' injury. Reports during and after the game indicate that he will be ready to go next week.
Tid bits about the Seminoles. From what I have seen out of FSU (particularly the NCST game today and the UNC game last week), this is a team that seems to get into a shootout each and every week. Jimbo Fisher has done an admirable job cleaning up Jeff Bowden's mess, and has Chris Ponder playing really well. FSU's defense is pathetic. Repeatedly, they have given up boatloads of yards through the air and have been scorched by the likes of Miami, Boston College, NCST, and Georgia Tech. Florida State comes into this game with a bit of momentum, posting back to back come-from-behind victories to put itself back into ACC Atlantic contention. A subplot to this contest is the controversy surrounding Bobby Bowden and his job security. This almost becomes a must in for the 'Noles skipper if he wants to have a shot at the ACC championship and another season as head man in Tallahassee.
This is a critical game for the Tigers, as we all know that Clemson controls its own destiny and can claim the Atlantic Division crown by running the table in the ACC (FSU, at NCST, UVa). However, I am skeptical of Clemson's ability to put together a string of victories and a critical win, as the Tigers have failed in this category repeatedly. This inability to perform in big games was Tom Bowden's trademark. Swinney will have a chance to prove this team can win and this staff is good enough to take care of business and avoid a crippling let down or a late game implosion. Clemson will have to prove that it can make important plays at critical points in ballgames.