While it wasn't pretty early, characterized by an offense that stalled coming out of the blocks and a halftime deficit, Clemson can chalk one in the win column as it looks ahead to week two. All eyes on Saturday were on the premier of the Chad Morris show and how Tajh Boyd would handle running the high octane offense in his first start as Clemson's quarterback.
It was abundantly clear to everyone watching that things were not clicking early and Boyd appeared to struggle with the early pressure of performing in his debut at the helm. Tajh's 0-8 on third down and just 65 yards passing in the first half was a cause for concern. In his post game comments Morris agreed, but also noted that Boyd responded courageously in the second half, playing like a completely different quarterback.
Boyd looked uncomfortable and jittery. Offensive coordinator Chad Morris said Boyd was trying to do too much, that he was "squeezing the air out the ball," holding the ball too long as he sought big-gain throws rather than safe, short gains.
"I was very impressed with the way Tajh responded in the second half," Morris said. "We just had to settle the guys down because they were trying so hard … Tajh was pressing; I was pressing as a play caller."
We knew coming into this season, Kevin Steele would have arguably his toughest coaching job since arriving at Clemson. With lack of depth across several spots on the defense and Steele having to rely on young players to step up early and often, it may not come as a shock that the Clemson defense yielded more than 400 yards to the Troy defense. Trojan quarterback Corey Robinson did the vast majority of his damage against Steele's defense in the first half, leading Troy on two, sixty plus yard drives in the field half, both resulting in touchdowns. Steele attributed the poor first half showing to a combination of poor tackling and youth.
"It was pretty obvious (the tackling) wasn't very good," Steele said. "We didn't tackle very sharp but we'll get that corrected." Steele stated that "There was some hesitation from younger guys. It wasn't that there were messing up, it was that they weren't playing as fast. They settled down."
Most people close to the Clemson program know that the talent is there to win an ACC championship, but in order to do so, the Tigers must be more physical up front. It makes you nervous as a Clemson fan that this is already having to be addressed one game into the season, especially coming off a game against a Sun Belt opponent. Clemson was pushed around up front offensively by a smaller and less talented Troy front. At least Dabo seemed to note the glaring problem in his postgame press conference. It most likely won't be until week three that we'll see whether the problem has actually been addressed.
"We did okay. We had three sacks, but two of those were on our quarterback. The pass protection was pretty solid. The disappointing thing was that we didn't sore down there on fourth-and-inches. We have to get more physical. Give Troy some credit too. They did a lot of twisting and moving."
That's all for now. We'll have much more coming up this week as we continue to recap week one and look ahead to Wofford coming to town this weekend. And in case you missed it, the Clemson freshmen blue chips are going to be special.