First off, I'd like to know if Maryland went to Myrtle Beach or Gatlinburg to get those sweet airbrushed graphics on the helmets. Next season, they need to mix in an eagle with lightning bolts flashing in the background or a couple wolves howling at the moon to complete the airbrush look. Possibly, UMd could let their players choose an airbrushed customized item. For instance, I'd expect to see a couple "Bubba 'n Darleene" inside heart items or a mid-'80's Trans AM with the words "GET 'ER DONE!" somewhere in the mix. As an aside, if they do go to Myrtle Beach for all their graphical needs, I'm sure they pass a fireworks stand or two. Incorporate that in your gear next year to spice it up a bit. In all seriousness, Coach Dabo should have gotten into the theme and rocked an airbrushed sweatshirt for yesterday's game (and, yes, "Coach Munson," this is intended to simply be humorous). This isn't as outlandish as the Maryland gear, but here is the direction I'd move Nike in:
One other topic before I get to the actual football. Ed Cunningham is nearly intolerable. As much money as ESPN has, you would think they could at least find a dozen color commentators who actually know what the hell they are talking about. Likely my best option would have been just to mute both and just yell at Clemson's actual football play instead of having to bitch at the poor football play and then complain about the stupidity you get with the announcers. This poor level, unfortunately, was not limited to simply the Clemson/UMd game either. I am pretty sure that ESPN/ABC has maybe three color commentators who actually seem to know what they are talking about. I get it, it is difficult to keep up with two new teams each week...not a problem. However, the NCAA does not change the rules from week to week, thus you should know the rules and know them better than the guy watching at home because that is your job. This rant is now complete.
Clemson's offense picked up this week just about where it left off last week. Tajh looked a bit rattled early even as The Chad attempted to get him in a groove. Fortunately, Clemson was able to move the ball down the field but had to settle for field goals early in the game. I will say that the offense looked to be moving at a faster pace than in games past-which is an item that appears to help this offense get into good tempo (Clemson ran 51 plays in the first half, if I recall correctly, and 98 total plays on the day if my math is correct). A big reason for all these plays was Maryland's commitment to playing soft and making Clemson methodically move the ball down the field but I'll say that the offense looked to screw around less and run plays. The combination, as mentioned before, allowed Clemson to put up some nice stats by moving the football well until they hit the redzone. This is something that Clemson needs to focus on moving forward. All the check with me crap seems to just get these guys out of rhythm.
I will not argue otherwise, Tajh Boyd is a very talented quarterback who has had a monster career at Clemson. The guy is definitely good and has won us quite a few football games over the years. However, if he is unable to run the football he has his issues. That was evident during portions of the game when Boyd's knee was dinged up. We saw poor footwork that clearly affected his mechanics. Tajh is also locking onto his target, so if you want to know where the ball is going, just pay attention to where Boyd is looking because likely he is staring down where he will throw the football. All items/issues should not solely be placed on Boyd's shoulders. For the second consecutive week, receivers did not properly adjust to hot routes and for the second consecutive week we saw a silly interception. There were also passes that should have been caught that were dropped. I believe if I were Coach Dabo or The Chad, I may have replaced Tajh for a series or two during this game when he was struggling and when had issues with the knee.
You must, however, give Boyd his due. At the end of the football game, when we proved we could not pound the ball inside the redzone, Boyd played through pain and had several big runs. The biggest was the touchdown that put the game effectively out of reach. Clemson needs this rushing weapon in order to complete a lot of the team's goals for the year.
I will say that like most everyone out there, I am sick and tired of all the sloppy play. Last week we fumbled on the opening play of the game. This week, Clemson hands Maryland the football deep in Clemson territory on (essentially) back to back fumbles early in the third quarter. All we heard all week out of Coach Dabo (other than Clemson would win five of ten against the Seminoles) was that this team would focus on the little things. Still, fumbles, poor snaps, poor offensive line play, etc...doesn't look like focusing on the little things. I'll only say this about the TE position...we absolutely have got to improve there. Palmer to Allen then Ford spoiled us, and maybe perception is the problem. However, sliding a tall receiver into that role seems a bit foolish--particularly if your goals are set as high as ours should be. I get it, we flex the TE and like to slide him into the H-back position but you still need some size/ability to block inside/out and, if that is not possible, you have to catch and hold onto the football.
Clemson's redzone offense is absolutely fucking pathetic. We get absolutely no push up front, piss poor. It has been like this for years now-you would think this would be a focus of this staff. The only solution they've put forth is to run the quarterback power play else settle for a field goal. With Tajh's bum leg yesterday, this wasn't the ideal situation. Let's face it, if Clemson doesn't put it in the endzone from 25 yards out, we are all getting nervous. Without Boyd running the ball there, I'm almost conceding that a fieldgoal is the best we can do when the Clemson offense is inside the opponent's 15 yard line. The problem is what we've been complaining about all night and for most of the year-offensive line play. A large portion of this crap boils down to S&C, some to practice philosophy, and some to implementing fundamentals that I am sure Caldwell is teaching. The fact is our offensive line year after year gets worse as the season progresses and year after year we cannot run basic short yardage plays nor get even a little push up front. In fact, in short yardage situations we get negative push...that is correct, the opponent typically has our linemen a yard or two in the backfield just prior to the play getting completely blown up. If you don't believe me, rewatch the Tigers' first half redzone possessions from last night.
All was not lost on offense yesterday. Sammy Watkins had a big game and definitely played hard. Sammy isn't scared to put his shoulder down and fight for whatever he can get. He fumbled the football yesterday but still had a big day and was the bulk of the Clemson passing attack. His 14 catches set a single game school record. That guy plays hard every down and deserves all the accolades he receives. Also nice was seeing Roderick McDowell getting 30 carries in one game and turning all those touches into 161 rushing yards including that long touchdown. All this work was done behind a piss poor offensive line, making it even more impressive. Hopefully The Chad took note and will continue to feed Hot Rod going down the stretch even if Tajh's knee gets much better. I'd also like to give a shoutout to Martavis Bryant. He had a couple really big catches, including the big one late that set up the CU TD that gave CU needed separation.
Clemson's defense kept the Tigers in the game, there is no questioning that statement. Not all was great and I'll discuss these shortcomings first then end with the positives. After a nice opening three and out for the Tiger defense, Clemson got flat out sloppy. "Sloppy" is probably a nice way to put it. Pass over the middle turns into a 70 yard touchdown pass...this is becoming more than annoying as it happens EVERY DAMN WEEK. I haven't broken the play down completely but the obvious player putting himself out of position and taking a poor angle was Travis Blanks. In fact, to be a little more specific, it looked like Robber with Blanks slipping after taking a poor angle. I am not sure why none of our defenders understand the concept of the form tackle. This involves WRAPPING UP THE BALLCARRIER!
Otherwise, Clemson was a bit lucky that Maryland was either overthrowing open receivers or dropping key passes. The Tigers did have a couple nice PBUs downfield though I would like to have seen the defensive back at least look back towards the ball instead of simply face guarding. I believe Breeland is the only corner I've seen get into man coverage, identify that the ball is about to arrive, turn and look for the ball, then make a play. This is a little nit-picky (as I am definitely glad to see our corners in position and defending/breaking up passes) and should come with more and more experience.
The defense was able to minimize offensive blunders. While the Terps did move the ball easily at times and Clemson gave up the big play over the middle early then settled in and played pretty well down the stretch. The most impressive portion of the game was early in the third quarter when the Clemson offense gave Maryland the football deep in Tiger territory twice and came away with only a pair of 40 yard field goals. Holding Maryland at bay there was important for the football team and for the offense in general. By maintaining the lead, The Chad was able to maintain some basic playcalling instead of pressing as typically happens when we get down. The late points were disappointing but, with a 20 point lead, Clemson was content to try and keep the football in front of the safeties to avoid a quick score. That is the problem with the prevent defense but fortunately the lead was large enough that this shortcoming could be tolerated.
Overall this was a very unimpressive win but a win nonetheless. Clemson moves to 7-1 with a trip to Charlottesville, Open Date, then a Thursday Night game with Georgia Tech. Clemson had better straighten quite a few things out if this team is to have a successful season. We repeated what Dabo said about this team being a championship team. After getting their brains beaten in last week, any regular season that does not end with an 11-1 record should be considered a failure based on the expectations placed upon this team by the head coach. Right now this football team is not playing like a Top 10 team and could easily get beaten and beaten multiple times in November if the train doesn't get back on the track. We'll need more than handing out cute little tennis balls to make it happen.
Around the horn...Missouri couldn't hold onto a 17 point fourth quarter lead against SCar last night. My takeaway was twofold-Mizzou has Kentucky, Tennessee, Miss, and aTm left on the schedule. SCar has two SEC losses (one to UGa) with only Miss. State and Florida left in conference. Florida has SCar, Georgia, and Vandy left. Georgia has Florida, Auburn, and Kentucky. Missouri will likely lose to The Fightin' Johnny Footballs, I could see SCar winning their two games, and (if I squint hard enough and Gurley is back in action) I could see Georgia running the table. This would obviously create a huge logjam at the top and likely result in riots down in Gainesville as this would mean a minimal of five losses for the Gators this year. It should be interesting to see which team can hold out for the honor of getting the crap kicked out of them by Bammer.
I was happy to see Bama beat down Tennessee yesterday afternoon. After Fat Phil turned in Bama they deserve to kick UT's teeth in every time they played. The only thing I wasn't sure of is why the game was moved to the fourth Saturday in October instead of the third. It was my understanding that the SEC was committed to keeping this game in its traditional spot. I'd have to assume CBS or ESPN had a hand in that move-though don't know that for sure.
I think everyone outside of Urbanville was pulling against Ohio State as usual. It would be nice to see just about any team beat OSU-and that pretty much applies for me during any season and under any circumstances. Miami squeaked one out against Wake yesterday. I think we will all agree that da "U" is severely overrated and is in for an epic beatdown when they head to Tallahassee this coming weekend. Oklahoma was able to knock TT from their pedestal. I am not sure what to think of either of these teams and will defer to season's end for an opinion there. aTm and the reigning Heisman Trophy looked stout yesterday, albeit against Vandy. They still have LSU to face this season and I honestly believe that the Citrus Bowl will take them barring some catastrophic item to the team or the quarterback. The Citrus Bowl has the first pick outside of the BCS. Usually they play nicely with the Cotton Bowl but hosting Johnny Manziel's final collegiate football game will be too much to turn down.
In baseball, I personally pull against teams from Boston and New York on principle so I'll get that out of the way up front. Last night's obstruction call was correct though a tough way to lose a baseball game. This has been an interesting series so far to say the least. I hope that the rest of the series will be as entertaining as the first three games. One thing I would like, though, is to hear the talking heads quit complaining about the American League teams having to play by National League rules during games played in National League parks. As an aside, my opinion is that there should be no designated hitter in baseball-particularly Major League Baseball. The argument is that the American League doesn't have to hit their pitcher during non-interleague play, so it is unfair to make them do this in the World Series. They also claim that AL teams are built to account for the use of the DH in regular season games. They should as they play 150 or so games in AL parks. Cry me a freaking river. The NL plays all year with the pitcher in the 9-spot. They build their season around NOT having the luxury of a non-fielding player in the lineup. I am still not a big fan of regular season interleague play so you know I can't stand it when the yahoos on ESPN try and run this crap.
That's all I got, enjoy this Sunday and we'll discuss UVa next week.