Clemson won its 10th game and its biggest win in 20 years tonight. Even though there are many problems that remain with this program, we have reason to hold our heads high again because Clemson football got back to where we belong. We dominated the lines on both sides against a good Virginia Tech squad. Even though we couldn't do so against a weak NC State team, we should be proud of the effort by (most) our players tonight.
Clemson's defense and Kevin Steele deserve the game ball tonight because they brought the intensity that they have not brought into a game since leaving Blacksburg two months ago. We pressed gaps again. Our defense realized that you must attack plays instead of waiting for them to come to you. BT and Andre Branch both played well tonight and it was obvious that they were dominating VT's OL all night. Tech doesn't have the athleticism up front to help them in the pass rush. They actually tackled well as a team and Jonathan Meeks discovered that he does in fact have arms to wrap up with and intercept passes with. I saw Safeties making plays again. Our Corners matched up on them well all night and managed to recover when they lost leverage or a step on the receiver. I think the defense played its best game of the year tonight.
David Wilson ripped us in game 1, and O'Cain gift-wrapped this one for his alma mater by not spoonfeeding Wilson the ball all night. What was VT's gameplan? I recall thinking this after the first game, and I don't think they had much of one tonight either. It wasn't just that we were playing well up front and tackling. Tech didn't bring the same intensity and I don't think they had a good gameplan prepared for us. Tech did nothing unexpected and Clemson really did not have to make many adjustments on defense.
While Clemson's offense was a bit sloppy at times, they did not hand the game over to VT on a platter as they have tried to over the last month. We didn't turn it over, and it appeared that Morris made a concerted attempt to push the run game without hammering on the same play over and over. We'll look at that in the review to be sure. Our front was in max protect more than you probably noticed, but I don't think the pass blocking was good at all in this game. Even though Antoine McClain decided to not play tonight, the rest brought it in the 2nd half and we moved the ball inside running it, and that lessened the pressure on Tajh in the 2nd. Price fought but it was clear he wasn't 100%, and looked confused by the pressures Tech brought. I'll still take 4 more of him anytime.
I don't recall a Clemson WR dropping a ball tonight, and a healthy Sammy Watkins is still uncoverable by Tech. They tried to take away our underneath routes, with the same strategy as last time, but he and Allen pose too much of a matchup problem for Tech's secondary...especially with Hosley out of the game. Clemson picked on his backup immediately and they could not adjust. Its not about scheme, its about players. Clemson had more skill players than they had answers, and we brought more intensity all around.
Unfortunately the last three weeks are a prime example of why its so hard to be a Clemson fan. We look like Chicken shit two weeks and Chicken salad the next. Until Clemson shakes this image, Dabo will never be totally secure in his position. Its quite hard to pick a team up from the last two weeks, and we've done that here, but youth or not there is no excuse for the last month of play. One game does not cure our ills. I don't think these problems have been fixed but wins do help.
Clemson will likely play West Virginia in the Orange Bowl on Jan 4. We've accomplished 2 big goals tonight, enjoy it.