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Clemson/UMd Thoughts

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I was out of pocket all weekend and unable to post.  This is the article that is usually posted on Sunday following the game.  Needless to say I watched the game and was relieved that the Clemson offense was able to shake off a rough start and poor defensive effort of win a shootout Saturday night.  If you would have told me last season that Clemson would be down 18 in the third quarter of a football game and still win, I would have told you you were nothing short of crazy.  Since last year, though, The Chad has completely changed the complexion of this team from a core strategy perspective and through fundamental execution and the Sweatshirt is letting him do his job (very well).  I'll point out that the 18 point comeback was the largest comeback for a Clemson team since the '92 UVa football game in Charlottesville.

Oh yeah, and it doesn't hurt to have Sammy Watkins.  That guy is straight up diesel and we are very fortunate to have him on our team each Saturday afternoon.  345 APY is flat out amazing, especially when you toss in a kick return for a touchdown to put the Tigers ahead for good in the 4th quarter.  Maryland could not put enough defenders on him and, fortunately for us, were foolish and kicked the ball to him late.  Andre Ellington also had a huge game with over 200 yards on the ground on 24 carries.  Personally, I would have attempted to run him a little more but was pleased (obviously) with the yardage gained and 20+ carries. Ellington, we were told, was finally healthy this past week and it showed.  Excellent effort here.

Tajh Boyd overcame a very sluggish start and had 270 yards and 4 TDs through the air.  I think we all wondered if Boyd's injury last week affected the Sophomore's play, especially early on.  The big item was that neither Tajh nor the team nor the coaches panicked after the slow start and no one quit on the game.  The guys fought and clawed their way back and there is something to be said about that. 

It wasn't all good, obviously.  Kevin Steele's defense looked like garbage on Saturday.  The Tigers allowed a sophomore quarterback in his first start to absolutely rip them apart, particularly on the ground.  The overall tackling was completely unacceptable and must be corrected.  I would wager that Steele will have them hitting early in the week and going through tackling drills.  The only way to become a good tackler is to practice it, which obviously involves contact.

Tajh completely missed the corner sitting and the result was a pick six.  This is not the first time this has happened this season.  I am not getting down on TB but will say that he has to be more careful.  His reads are pretty straight forward and I understand that he is trying to deliver the ball very quickly but things like this cause you to get down early.    Fortunately he bounced back from the early mistakes, as did Watkins.  Sammy and the Tigers overcame a few shortcomings and, unlike what we have been used to over the years at Clemson, this team keeps fighting.  Sammy, like Tajh, didn't let his fumble ruin the whole game and later showed out on special teams late in the game.

Maryland has been one of those teams that has been a real thorn in Clemson's side over the years, so I will take any win we get in College Park.  We also covered the spread so Tajh and crew actually beat Vegas expectations, which is no small measure.  It is always tough to go into someone else's crib at night and pull out the W.

Moving forward, Clemson hosts UNC this weekend.  There is no doubt that Butch Davis was able to upgrade the Tarheels talent during his tenure.  Obviously this programs was turned upside down because of some alleged rules violations.  The Heels are 5-2 with losses against Miami and Georgia Tech, so I am not crowning anyone just yet--just tossing out a sample of caution, particularly after seeing Clemson go through a couple rough spots already this year.

The following week we travel to Georgia Tech for a night game in Hotlanta.  Word on the street is the Big Time Big Dogs will be on the prowl and the night game allows for the BTBD's to assure their portion of the Clemson section is rocking and rolling for gametime.  Georgia Tech has given us some issues over the years and, if Clemson cannot learn how to tackle between now and then, the Jackets could have a large game on the ground against our defense.