First and foremost, I echo Ryan's sentiments regarding Thursday night football games at Clemson. I hate Clemson hosting a Thursday night game and think that since Clemson, FSU, and Miami are the teams that put asses in front of television sets, they should get more pull in these affairs. As such, Clemson should take an opinion similar to the University of Georgia-at a minimum for home football games. Georgia has a non-negotiable stance that football was meant to be played on Saturdays and they will not play football on Thursday nights, period. I don't really like the idea of playing on the road one Thursday night but a game in Winston-Salem during the week wouldn't be the end of the world. A game at Clemson is just stupid. Clemson is geographically located away from the larger metropolitan areas and the stadium is located on-campus. Further, Thursday night is a school night meaning attendance for parents and their kids will be curbed. All of these things correlate to lower attendance numbers which adversely affect a lot of items including Clemson recruiting.
Now to the actual game...I was extremely pleased with the defensive tackle play we saw Thursday night. Grady Jarrett played exceptionally well and was a real force stopping the first element of the triple option-the fullback dive. Overall, the defense played well for a half or so then got a little lackadaisical. Clemson did a good job on the dive and the force but did get out of position at times defending the pitch. The Tigers were also fortunate that GT missed some wide open players streaking down the sideline. The use of play action by Tech is killer because the opposition is so focused on stopping the ground game and playing proper run defense that players get lost. You saw that several times Thursday as the Tech wings were able to sneak out of the backfield and clear of the Clemson defenders.
Offensively, it is tough to have too many complaints. We ran the ball well but really took advantage of the GT pass defense strategy and their secondary. Ted Roof was content being aggressive in the secondary and it came back to bite the Yellow Jackets. Martavis Bryant was ridiculous with the best game of his career. When the Tech defense focused less on Sammy Watkins, #2 made them pay. Tajh and Cole Stoudt both threw the ball well. The lone complaint I have is the offensive line. We looked like crap up front for a good part of the game with the RT spot being the glaring issue. I've simply come to grips with the fact that Clemson will be inconsistent and frustrating up front. Clearly the Clemson offensive coaches need to make adjustments to provide help for a disappointing offensive line.
I was also a bit discouraged by Clemson's inability to put Tech away when they had the chance. GT fumbled late in the first half, giving Clemson the football deep in Jacket territory. Under duress, Boyd tried to make a miracle throw instead of throwing the ball away (best choice) or taking the sack (not ideal, but not the end of the world). The ensuing interception took a bit of the momentum away from Clemson. Nevertheless, the Clemson defense was able to force GT into a 4th down situation with about one minute left in the half. Clemson was primed to get the football with nice field position and ample time for Chad Morris' offense to get some points before the half. Three points would have put the Tigers up 30-7 and a TD puts the game out of reach because GT's offense is likely not capable of scoring as quickly as they'd need to overcome a 27 point halftime deficit. Instead, Clemson jumps offsides trying to time the snap. Tech drives down the field then picks up a field goal to cut the Clemson lead to 17 going into half. Instead of delivering the knockout punch, Tech was allowed to hang around and, as we all saw, were able to open the second half with a touchdown drive that took what seemed to be a sure blowout and turned it into a ten point Clemson lead. Fortunately the Tigers did not take their foot off the accelerator and ended up with an impressive win Thursday night. Anytime you are able to defeat Georgia Tech (who has been a thorn in Clemson's side for years), you have to be happy, take the win, then move on with the season. Obviously the Tigers have a cupcake this weekend followed by a trip down to Columbia to take on what will be a Top 10 ranked Gamecock football team.
Speaking of the Gamecocks, they didn't look great but were good enough to beat a lackluster Florida team last night. Conner Shaw was not impressive but, as usual in Columbia, did enough to manage them to a victory. SCar has not been overly impressive all season but has been able to find ways to win and now may find themselves in the SECCG. We will be discussing the Gamecocks at length over the next couple weeks, so I'll save most of this conversation until then.
Georgia/Auburn...what a crazy ending. Auburn never should have placed itself in that position and all appeared to be lost for the Eagles late in the game. A
stroke of luck complete miracle saved them and now we have to hear Auburnfan talk trash again. Those are the luckiest people on earth...you'll recall all the miracles that occurred back in 2010. Then the NCAA/SEC sold out and found no wrongdoing on the Plains. Now they head into the Iron Bowl with a chance to represent the West in Atlanta. Fortunately, they are playing Alabama. The Tide is primed to expose Auburn. While I think that Ellis Johnson has done a fantastic job turning the dumpster fire that was the Auburn defense into a respectable squad, I believe Bama has more than enough firepower to expose the Eagle defense. On the other side of the football, everyone knows that Saban despises HUNH offenses. However, Auburn will have much more trouble running the football than they've had all season and I am not sure they are capable of throwing the ball against the Tide.
USC/Stanford was fairly crazy. Somehow Corso comes through again with the USC headgear pick. It will be interesting to see what the Trojans choose to do following the season. This is a topic that the national media will be all over, so you really don't need my play by play there.
The ACC Coastal is nearly laughable. This is not a statement designed to demean the accomplishments of Duke. You really have to give credit where it is due here. Cutcliff keeps proving why Ole Miss was crazy to let him go as he leads Duke to one of the more impressive program building jobs I can remember. Congrats on that front. The rest of the division has no excuse. Miami had a key injury to Duke Johnson but they should be good enough to win the Coastal-though I, like many of you-have been out there screaming that Miami was overrated for most of the year. VPI, my how you've fallen. Virginia Tech looked to have a little of their old success back after starting the year 6-1 (and that lone loss was to Alabama). Since, they have fallen apart with losses to Duke, BC, and Maryland but with a win over the withering ‘Canes. Georgia Tech is falling apart. UNC has been a disappointment but somehow still in the mix. I really don't know what to think about the ACC Coastal other than it is a bad/inconsistent football division. The Atlantic is top heavy with Clemson and Florida State but at least there are two decent and somewhat consistent teams here.
More football is on tap for this afternoon. After a pathetic season to date, the Falcons attempt to limp down the stretch with a game in Tampa Bay today. The Bears host the Ravens under adverse conditions in the early game. I think everyone in the NFC East is still in the hunt for that division. The Cowboys looked to have the inside track but looked simply atrocious last weekend. Philly hosts RGIII and the ‘Skins this week. San Fran at New Orleans looks to be the best afternoon matchup. Denver hosts undefeated Kansas City tonight in a game that will obviously influence the race for the AFC West. In an odd bit of scheduling, I believe these two teams play in KC two weeks from today as well-go figure. New England heads to Charlotte tomorrow night. I believe the Panthers are favored in this one which seemed unfathomable prior to the start of this season.
Don't forget the Tigers host South Carolina on the hardwood this afternoon. South Carolina-at least so far-looks to be improved. We may get a decent look and idea of what to expect out of Brownell's group this winter. Here is the STS preview.
Overall, we look forward to a laid back weekend against El Cid. Have a great week.