While the score certainly indicated an impressive performance by our Tigers, the actual gameplay did not. I will say that we were successful in getting in and out with a win, and that point is not lost even with the criticism/praise that this game puts forth. We have things to improve upon and need to improve going into NCST/Carolina/Bowl Game. I need to be sure to praise the players and staff for achieving a school record 12 consecutive home victories. Winning at home is very, very important in the game of football and creating a definitive home field advantage is something every school should attempt to attain.
Clemson looked lackadaisical and almost like they did not want to be there. It is really tough to know what to take from this game. Maryland has been ravaged with injuries and really gave Clemson poor looks all afternoon. I am more disappointed in Clemson's lack of intensity and lack of killer instinct against a vastly overmatched Terp team.
The Tigers put the ball on the ground three times and lost all three. I am not sure why Humphries was not calling for a fair catch on his muff simply because the Maryland cover man clearly was on top of him when the ball arrived. I do understand issues seeing the ball because of sun glare but will argue that there may not have been a fumble had there not been a possibility of him getting leveled. That turnover directly led to Maryland's lone touchdown. Tajh put the ball on the ground twice. Once he was bailed out by a Petty fumble two plays later. The other stifled a drive that likely would have provided a touchdown or, at the very least, a chip-shot field goal. If Boyd is going to be considered a designed running threat, he absolutely has to learn to protect the ball better.
Offensively, I thought we got great effort out of the backs and receivers. Week in and week out, you know what kind of effort you're going to get from Sammy Watkins, DeAndre Hopkins, Adam Humphries, Andre Ellington and those guys. Nuk set the Clemson career TD reception record and continued his excellent season. Watkins contributed though he did get a little dinged up. It appeared to be an ankle injury that did not immediately sideline the star receiver so I will assume that it is a minor item and that he'll be full speed by next weekend. I did notice he had a little trouble cutting on that leg so he will need to focus on getting that tweak worked out and getting back to 100% for the next two games. I thought Ellington ran hard. I did hear some murmuring and complaints about him going to the ground too easily though I don't personally believe that is the case. Considering the piss poor effort seen from the guys in front of him he gets a good bit of leniency from me-particularly when you look at his resume and the great effort and production he's given our Tigers his whole career.
Tajh was not sharp against Maryland and, fortunately, he didn't have to be. We saw Tajh overthrow several open receivers and, as mentioned earlier, put the ball on the ground twice. It also looks as though he is putting on a little weight, thought those in charge of the ship will deny that. I hope I am just imagining things because his ability to move around is critical to keep this offense rolling. It may seem ridiculous to even bring such a point up but it is a legit concern-especially after seeing Boyd put on a ton of weight late in each of the past two seasons. Overall, the play of Tajh and Cole Stoudt was acceptable. Sure there were some poor throws and the fumbles were frustrating, but some of my complaints are nit-picky and most concerns because at some point this season we may again face a defense that challenges the offensive line, receivers, and/or quarterback. Then it will be critical that all portions of the offense (and particularly the QB) are in sync and are sharp.
The offensive line looked very lazy. They were often standing around and gave Ellington and the backs little push as usual. Timothy was also disappointing. I am sick and damn tired of seeing the bullshit we see week in and week out here-especially run blocking. Morris would like to run A-gap to A-gap and there isn't shit there, period. It is almost pathetic. Dalton Freeman again got worked by the nose all night. If you cover him up, his productivity takes a nose dive. I expected more out of him this season after hearing all the rants and raves coming out of camp and the better games we saw out of him early in the year. We have got to improve up front because if we play a good team and cannot at least look to have half of a rushing attack, the opponent will simply whip our ass all over the field and will put pressure on Tajh.
Likewise, it is difficult to take too much away from the football game from Clemson's defensive perspective. Maryland was missing their star wide receiver, running back, and had a linebacker playing quarterback-and we got just what you would expect out of them under such circumstances. I will say that I was sorely disappointed that Clemson allowed a 100 yard rusher. The Tigers, per usual, got sealed and gave up quite a few big gains on the ground. While Clemson didn't get killed on the option, we would have trouble against a guy who has been working with the backs and line all season and was running a form of the read/option.
Because of the depleted QB and WR situation at UMd, I will not even attempt to critique the secondary without seeing a replay so that I can assess the entire field. Clearly Clemson was successful limiting the Maryland passing attack. However, a linebacker throwing the ball around isn't exactly the measuring stick you want for your defense.
In terms of special teams, we addressed the punt return fumble earlier. The other biggest point of interest was the long field goal attempt that was nearly returned for a TD but did set up the Maryland field goal. I understand that the Sweatshirt was just being cute attempting a 55 yard field goal there. However, a void was exposed on that return. Our field goal unit looked bewildered when the Terp defender fielded the kick then took off with it. We have to be prepared for anything that can happen and were not ready for the short field goal/return last night.
All was not negative, though. Clemson again was able to take care of business and now sit at 9-1. One more victory and the team achieves one of our requirements-double digit wins. With a win over NC State, Clemson will successfully cruise through all the games that it was decidedly supposed to win this season. As I stated before, this hasn't happened in a long, long time. The Tigers were also able to surpass the 40 point mark again this season while the defense would not have surrendered a point without the special teams issues.
Overall, it I can see how it could be difficult to get all jacked up for this glorified scrimmage. I do, however, fear that this is contagious. It happened last season and we finished the regular season like shit. Let's hope we come out with more fire next week or NC State could piss on our parade. If Clemson does its job, we will see a 9-2 Carolina team roll into Death Valley to play a team with an equal record (I still warn everyone not to count chickens before they hatch).
Otherwise, Bammer just couldn't get it done yesterday. The interceptions did them in along with the big first half ATM had. That is a major shakeup in the quest for the crystal ball. I don't expect all the shake ups to be over, though, so let's see how the top of the BCS pans out over the next month. Along those same lines, that Johnny Football is a player, no doubt. It will be interesting to see where this ATM team goes over the next couple years and how big of a push the Bama win gives Mr. Football in the Heisman chase.
There should be a lot of big jobs that open up soon. Arkansas has all but said that John L. Smith's interim tag will be replaced with a "don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out" tag. Tennessee will fire Derek Dooley and Auburn has pretty much thrown Chizik under the bus. They did get what they wanted out of Chizik. The boosters knew that GC would let them go out and "encourage" payers to come to Auburn and they would win big. Tubberville wouldn't let them openly cheat, and you saw what happened to him on the Plains. Bowden tried to clean it up and he left under some similar circumstances. It will be interesting to see who they bring in and what will happen if they don't immediately win a boatload of football games.
Falcons at Saints this afternoon. The Falcons will try to keep their perfect record intact and the Saints cannot afford a loss. The Saints defense is pure garbage so it will be fun to see how many yards and points the ATL can put up on these Jokers.
Andy Reid is pretty much out in Philli. Their offensive line is complete shit, to the point that a mobile guy like Michael Vick can't even avoid getting drilled everytime he drops back. This is maybe the biggest shock of the season. Likewise, Jerry Jones will not put up with more losing. He will not acknowledge he is part of the problem as the benevolant dictator/owner/general manager. Jason Garrett cannot change that item, so he and his team had better find a way to win or the Boys will be looking for a new coach soon. He and Reid appear to be in a must win this week and for most of the rest of this season. The NFL has way too many plot lines for me to even begin discussing more this morning, maybe we'll get into some of that as Clemson's season winds down but likely we won't have time to delve into those details.