That was not the kind of game that anyone expected. Shootouts are not what I consider "good games". Clemson got down and thanks to The Chad, Sammy Watkins, Boyd, and Andre Ellington we avoided what would certainly have been a trap loss.
Sammy Watkins, damn. 345 all-purpose yards, 4th in ACC history, which broke Spiller's Clemson record. Another 105 receiving, setting the Clemson freshman record with 728. He made up for the muffed punt and first kickoff return bigtime, but I don't think we'll see him fielding punts for a while longer. Maryland even tried to double and triple cover him and couldn't do anything more than contain him, then the dummies kicked him the ball. You're better off kicking it out of bounds Edsall.
Clemson came out and Tajh looked absolutely lost in the first couple of drives. He threw at least 3 balls where I had to wonder "WTF are you looking at?" and then he flipped a switch and made the plays to bring his team back from a horrid start. We were able to run the ball effectively inside for the first time all season, and Andre Ellington ripped the Maryland defense to shreds. So much so that I would've run the ball another 15 times today, particularly early because of the success with the inside zone. I knew when I saw we could run the ball, that we'd score 50 points on them. Andre finished with 212 yards rushing, his best game of the year.
Basically, other than the playcalling early and Boyd's horrid start, theres nothing whatsoever to say about this offense that isn't overwhelmingly positive. If we can run the ball inside, we cannot be stopped.
But then theres the defense....and I'd dock Kevin Steele's pay for that performance tonight. They looked like they had prepared for a completely different team. There is no excuse for a defense at Clemson playing as bad as that one did tonight. It was like watching Reggie Herring's defenses again. Nobody took good angles. We cannot tackle in space. No one was mentally prepared for this ballgame; it was not the scheme but the coaching. This was not a scheme problem, because the Robber coverage we were playing does put a free man over the middle that is effectively a spy on the QB. It just didnt work because our Robber didnt feel like taking the right angle or making the damn tackle. Then, when it was apparent that it wasn't working, Steele kept at it. 99% of the time he'd make the adjustment to zone underneath at halftime, and he didnt make it until later in the 3rd.
We can't defend the zone read because guys jump out of their position and take the wrong man, or just stop using their eyes period as if they were asleep. Theres only two real schemes against the zone read, straight up or cross reading, and Maryland wasn't doing anything other than a basic zone read to confuse them. We just have the wrong approach to practicing against it. That shit has to be fixed right now. This tackling has to be fixed Monday and Tuesday, because if you don't tackle worth a damn on Saturday then you aren't doing it in practice. Theres no answer other than that. Whatever practice strategy we have for drilling tackling and angles needs to be changed immediately. Those guys need to come out and hit all afternoon this week.
Our Safety play is the #1 reason why we can't defend the pass. Its not Martin Jenkins or Coty Sensabaugh (who is admittedly bad in single coverage) or Darius Robinson, its Rashard Hall and Jonathan Meeks. Hall's play has been subpar this year, his angles are bad. You should not see corners always alone on pass plays. The safety is there to help and they are never around to help.
The defense will be fine against a more conventional UNC offense, so I'm more worried about Georgia Tech than them. There is no team on the schedule that can shut this offense down though, barring injury. Believe in The Chad. They kept chopping wood when they were down, and never got down on themselves. Tajh was pumping guys up several times, so he showed he can handle a bad start without imploding. Thats a sign of maturity and coaching.
7-0, just keep winning.