Fortunately, Clemson took the field last Thursday night and simply whipped the Salem Demon Deacons, particularly early and often. There are quite a few positives, negatives, and questions that arise from Clemson's victory. First and foremost, we are always happier with a win than the alternative. While Wake is vastly inferior to most Division 1A teams, it still felt good for our Tigers to get a dominating victory on Thursday in front of the entire nation.
Clemson's previous failures on Thursday night can be attributed to several factors. These include better teams, compressed scheduling (having to play VPI four days after playing Ga Tech in '06 comes to mind), and lack of enthusiasm all come to mind. Of these games, Clemson has only hosted two Thursday games (NCST in '02 and Ga Tech in '99). I'll point out that all but two of the previous 10 Thursday night ESPN games were under Tom Bowden ('98 and '09 Ga Tech are the lone exceptions here). What does this all mean to me? (A) Clemson won on the road on Thursday (B) the schedule wasn't exactly all that difficult leading up to this game (C) Wake Forest sucks (D) the players did actually seem like they wanted to be in Winston Salem. Overall, I am happy we won but don't necessarily agree with other Tiger fans that difficulty in Thursday night games has vanished because, in the future, it is possibly we could play a tougher team the week before and the game more than likely would be played on the road. Long and short, enjoy the win but recognize it for what it really is...a good win over a very bad football team. This win doesn't ensure success in future Thursday games-though I feel the players won't be as disinterested with Swinney as they were under Tom Bowden.
Impressions from the actual game were equally mixed. Clemson's passing game showed out. Both Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins had career days through the air Thursday, with each setting a school record. There is no question Boyd is getting better each week and will continue this progression so long as he doesn't press and keeps the weight down.
Tajh isn't clear of criticism as he held the ball too long at times and made a bonehead decision prior to Catman's missed field goal trying to avoid a sack by slinging the ball around. Sometimes you take your medicine (in this case it would have been a sack). We were very fortunate the officials called Boyd down there because he was very close to lateralling the ball to either lose yards or create a turnover.
Our offensive line, though, deserves to get criticized and criticized harshly. This is the second consecutive week they've played like crap. We get no push and did allow the Deacons to put pressure on the QB. This, in turn, is affecting Tajh's confidence as you have seen him quickly pull the ball down and run many times the past two weeks. We really didn't feed Andre Ellington Thursday (16 carries for over 4 ypc) but we couldn't because there was nowhere to run between the tackles. This is unacceptable. At some point you have to realize that a steady decline up front has a direct correlation with strength and conditioning flaws. I see it, you see it, Chad Morris sees it, we all see it...except The Sweatshirt who will not even look to anyone other than Batson. Look at Florida, they hire an S&C coach and they went from hot garbage to hot shit in one year. S&C is the core of a football team and we need improvement here, period.
Defensively, I think we are getting better. Don't misinterpret that statement and think that I just said our defense is good-that is clearly not the case. We are, however, making some progress up front with the younger guys' gain in experience starting to pay off. We are seeing our interior linemen really come around and start making plays, which is encouraging. If we could start getting more out of our ends, we might start to have something.
The linebackers looked to play ok Thursday. I was, however, very disappointed to see Tony Steward again not receive quality snaps. The decision to not redshirt him (which we've questioned since the staff said he would play) appears to be more and more boneheaded each week. EITHER PLAY HIM ALL THE TIME OR REDSHIRT HIM SO THAT HE IS 100% WITH THE EXTRA YEAR TO PLAY! Along those lines, play Townsend. Either he simply isn't as good as advertised or is having difficulties picking up the defense. I believe it is the latter-which rests solely on the coaches.
The defensive backs looked more or less mediocre-even considering the losses we've incurred there. We saw simply too many missed tackles and I saw quite a few open receivers Thursday. It is, though, amusing watching Coach Venables go apeshit crazy when Travis Blanks is in a play. It is discouraging that we have to work Adam Humphries into the defensive backfield due to injury. Though I scratch my head, I have learned my lesson about criticizing Humph. Dude goes HAM at everything and I hope that if he is called to duty for significant snaps we'll say the same things about him as a defender as we do about his time at the WR position.
Catman's streak ultimately had to come to an end at some point...and that point came against the team with which it started last November. Chandler Catanzaro missed on a 48 yard field goal following a sack allowed by the Clemson offense. Let's hope this is the last miss and Catman will continue his excellent season starting this coming weekend.
We watch pretty much all the Carolina games and try to take as much out of those games as we can, particularly in anticipation of the game this November. I will say that we wish Marcus Lattimore all the best. You hate to see a guy who does everything right and is a model student/athlete have injuries like the two he had last year and this. While Carolina may be the other university in the state and you may not pull for them, you have to respect a guy like Marcus Lattimore.
Onto the rest of the world...what is the deal with Georgia? One day they are complete crap, the next they are world beaters. The football we've seen from them leads me to believe there are three decent teams in the East, but not one that is even close to being ready to play Bammer. Florida got rolled, Georgia has looked like crap for most of the year, and South Carolina was taken to the limit by Tennessee.
South Carolina--we will put together a definitive plan to beating those folks but, if you watched yesterday's game, you should realize that they are beatable. South Carolina has a questionable offensive line, DoDo is being limited on his plays, and their secondary is nearly as bad as ours.
Tennessee--Derek Dooley may as well put his head between his legs and kiss his ass goodbye. And can you blame Tennessee? With all that money, you would think he could
buy bring in more talent. Ah, but he has his buddy Fat Phil to thank for that. Phillip decided to tattle on Alabama to avert the NCAA hammering his ass. What does that mean? It means that if Alabama ever gets a chance to return the favor, they will ten times over. There is no talent in Tennessee and UT can't cheat anymore. Once Phil screwed Bama, the response was (in my best Tony Montana voice) "You just fucked yourself." Tennessee fan is going apeshit now because (A) they have asstons of money funneling into the program (B) they have arguably the best facilities in America (C) they suck at football. This will likely be the scene in Knoxville next week (without the bullets, unless they are absolutely necessary):
Alabama is freaking Alabama. The only thing left for them is to beat LSU in the Bayou on CBS this Saturday and take care of Florida/Georgia the first week of December, then claim their crystal egg. I kind of hope that UGa wins the East because I just love watching them get their ass beat.
Today, FigureFour will watch his Falcons roll, do a little laundry, and keep on putting together material on how to beat the Gamecocks. Since my driver got a concussion, I have no interest in the Neckcar. I do have interest in the final PGA Q-school. And the election. it is a dogfight. We will see how the whole thing turns out in just a week and a half. So stay safe, have a good week, and don't be afraid to use the following when someone pisses you off: