Monday Notes: Tune-Up Time

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - JANUARY 04: Sammy Watkins #2 of the Clemson Tigers looks on during warm ups against the West Virginia Mountaineers during the Discover Orange Bowl at Sun Life Stadium on January 4, 2012 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

This week is time to tune things up. Clemson will play host to Furman this weekend, a game that doesn't even have a Vegas line. This is important, because everyone knows what's on the docket for next week. There are times when you can't look ahead (like Ball State) and there are games that you split prep preparing for the following week. This is one of those weeks.

Quarterback Tajh Boyd threw three touchdown pass to DeAndre Hopkins, tailback Andre Ellington had two short scoring runs as the Tigers opened the year with consecutive games surpassing 500 yards of offense — something it hadn’t accomplished since 1980. "Listen, I know we racked up a bunch of yards, but there’s so much to coach," Swinney said Sunday. "There’s just ton of things that we can improve upon, mistakes that were made. Maybe they didn’t show up to the naked eye, but we certainly know what they are."

On Saturday, Furman will be overmatched in every aspect of the game, and that's a good thing, because next Saturday is much much bigger. Allowing Clemson to use part of this week to prepare for the Noles is huge, because they won't have that same luxury having to face a much more formidable opponent in Wake Forest. What's also big about having this game before Florida State, is getting #2 back into the fold. It would be tough to ask Superman to put up video game numbers next weekend without having had any actual game time in 8 months. The Furman game allows him that opportunity.

The Clemson football team has averaged 28 first downs and 527 yards during its first two games. Imagine what Clemson’s offense may be capable of with Sammy Watkins. "Now we’ve got our full arsenal back," Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris said. "We should be able to do some things." No kidding. Playing its final game without Watkins, who was serving the final of a two-game suspension Saturday, Clemson ran fairly roughshod over visiting Ball State, using a 32-point second quarter to key a 52-27 victory.

This team still has a lot of things it needs to work out this week and weekend before the trip down south. The defense is still extremely suspect, and the coaches have to happy about having a dress rehearsal before the real thing next weekend. Clemson has to get better production of our their linebackers and secondary if we are going to win next weekend and the hope is to work the kinks out this week.

or those looking for Clemson flaws, there were plenty of nits to pick on defense. The Tigers again had trouble stopping the run, surrendering touchdowns of 54 and 21 yards to Horactio Banks, a redshirt freshman playing just his second college game. Banks finished with 120 yards rushing, the second time in as many games the defense allowed a 100-yard runner. "We've got to get better," first-year defensive coordinator Brent Venables said. "Lots of work to do."

Sitting at #58 in Total Defense and #62 in Scoring Defense certainly doesn't give you that warm and fuzzy feeling. Granted a large number of the points Ball State put up were in garbage minutes, but through two games Clemson is still not getting the production out of its best defensive players Goodman and Anthony that it expects. Anthony has more room for growth with only his second year in the program. Goodman on the other hand has to be more productive. He's a senior with by far the most reps on his line, and he needs to a wrecking ball, instead of just average. I'm not expecting Jarvis Jones type production out of him (boy is that guy a monster or what?) but I would at least like better production out of a guy that's been playing the position for four years.

On the offense side of the ball things are clicking, just a little bit. With the return of Sammy this weekend, Clemson could make a strong argument for having the #1 Quarterback, #1 Running Back, and #1 and #2 Wide Receivers in the conference in their fold. It's hard to not like what we have seen out of Nuke this season. The guy is just putting up insane numbers already, and could make a case for being the #1 WR on a ton of teams in college football. He's exactly what this team needed in Sammy's absence. A solid, strong receiver that is a weapon in the redzone. That's not going to go away when #2 returns, it just adds one more weapon for Tajh, and takes some of the pressure off Nuke to put up huge numbers every game.

What did we learn in the ACC in Week 2? 1. The Clemson offense is rolling. Clemson has now rolled up more than 500 yards in total offense in back-to-back games to open the season, the first time that has happened since at least 1980. Clemson scored 45 points in the first half on Saturday, its highest first-half output since scoring 49 against Wake Forest in 1981. Tajh Boyd and DeAndre Hopkins have been playing pitch and catch like they are in their backyard -- they connected for three touchdowns against Ball State. The rebuilt offensive line looks way, way ahead of schedule. Andre Ellington has proved his worth. Now imagine what happens when Sammy Watkins returns this week.

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