Before I get too deep into this discussion, I'll point out that Clemson made it through the first half of the season without a loss and without completely bombing against a much lesser opponent. Six wins to this point is worthy of note and we've certainly acknowledged that fact. However, we are only halfway through the regular season with more tests ahead (FSU, @ Maryland, a Georgia Tech squad that always gives us trouble, and SCar are included in four of our six remaining games). Hopefully this group can keep the good things going and improve in areas that have given us some trouble to this point.
The best way to describe the Clemson game yesterday is overall sloppy and our Tigers are fortunate to come out of this one relatively unscathed. Clemson repeatedly put the ball on the ground, missed a kick, botched a placekicking hold, and were lucky only to be trailing by four at halftime. As we predicted, Boston College asked Rettig only to manage the football game and not screw up badly-which he did for three quarters. Boston College was content to run the football, use little screen passes, and move the quarterback out of the pocket to try and mitigate Clemson's defensive speed. Boston College's commitment to the running game set up play action for the Eagles. Offensively, Clemson looked out of it and struggled to offset BC's aggressiveness. Clemson absolutely has to improve picking up the extra defenders during blitz scenarios regardless of the play call.
I'll take this moment to shift and discuss the Clemson offensive line. We get no push up front when needed to run the football and appear to be regressing in the pass blocking arena as well. Clemson was forced into max protect and Tajh was on the move all afternoon because of these shortcomings. Frankly, I am a bit surprised that Caldwell doesn't have this entire group playing at a higher level. We all watched the same film and knew that defensive coordinator Don Brown would be extremely aggressive and they were successful bringing 5 or 6 defenders most every play.
All of these mistakes added up to a performance that did pull out the win but looked very bad at times getting through four quarters. Even when Clemson was apparently scoring a long touchdown, we made a mental mistake and could not freaking line up properly. Fortunately, the Bryant TD that was called back was immediately avenged by a long touchdown pass to Sammy Watkins. I understand that Boston College was forced into M2M coverage due to their defensive aggressiveness but I was a little surprised that they were not scared to put their corners on an island at times against athletes like Sammy Watkins and Martavis Bryant. Those guys are just too good and eventually will break one loose as happened halfway through the third quarter.
Clemson's insistence on hurting themselves was a recurring theme through this contest. Clemson certainly didn't look like a Top 5 football team Saturday and absolutely has got to get better to make any of us happy with this football season. As bad as Clemson was shooting itself in the foot, it was only eclipsed by Boston College's stupidity. The Eagles wasted all their second half timeouts with about seven minutes left in the game. I still don't understand why they chose to run a fake punt on their final possession. Prior to this possession, Clemson utilized a timeout that saved BC from incurring a delay of game. Clemson also did a poor job running the clock there at the end, but I guess you can understand this because the Clemson offense is up tempo and designed to run 90 plays a game. It is difficult sometimes for teams to fundamentally change the way they attack the game.
I will say that Boston College came out and played tough. Andre Williams ran hard and was impressive when he trucked the Clemson defender. Those guys hit hard and, as we've come to expect, played above their talent level and stayed in the football game by conservatively avoiding too many mistakes and playing hard-nosed football. On the flip side of the coin, the Clemson defense was able to bottle up the BC offense sans one cohesive second quarter drive and the big play action pass to Amidon.
The Clemson secondary-well, specifically the safety position-absolutely must improve. Jayron Kearse had a rough day and was eventually replaced with Travis Blanks in spite of Blanks' injuries going into the contest. This will be a big concern against Florida State and their high powered offense. Otherwise, we have seen improvement from the overall defense and I do not want to lose that point. Up front Clemson consistently puts pressure on the opposing quarterback. The linebackers are doing a better job getting into proper position and the corners' coverage has improved year over year. Fortunately, as each area improves it helps the other areas-accelerating the level of play. The defense kept the team in this game and put the final touches on this win via a fumble return for a touchdown. as we've all said, it will be interesting to watch this improved defense line up against an extremely talented FSU offense. You'll recall that last year's game got a bit out of hand late in large part because Clemson couldn't slow down the 'Noles. Hopefully the story will be different this week as most are more confident about the defensive play now than we have been over the past couple years.
Now we can finally move our complete focus to the Seminoles in the game that has been circled since Clemson defeated Georgia earlier this year. Game Day will be in Clemson for the second time this season and Death Valley will be electric Saturday night. The contest Saturday is effectively for the ACC Atlantic and a solidified spot as one of the nation's elite teams. We'll spend our fair share of time this week discussing this matchup and what it means in the grand scheme of things.
In other areas, Saturday was a big day for the upset. Mack Brown held onto his job as his Longhorns completely dismantled their rival Sooners. Georgia could not overcome being without a lot of their best players and got rolled up by Missouri. Georgia looked to be a lock to represent the East in the SECCG. That no longer appears to be the case. Several teams look like they could challenge the Dawgs for the privilege of playing Alabama in Atlanta. South Carolina looked good going on the road and easily handling Arkansas. I realize this isn't the Arkansas of several years ago but South Carolina typically struggles away from home and there was no struggle in that beatdown. LSU handled Florida at home. At this point I don't think anyone is overly impressed with the Gators. It is difficult for me to understand how a team that recruits the best talent in America has these down years-then you'll quickly point that (A) LSU is a very good football team and (B) coaching takes an average team with tons of talent and turns them into elite. I also recall that Florida was playing in the Sugar Bowl just last season and finished ranked last year in the Top 10. They still have Carolina, at Mizzu, and the Cocktail Party on the schedule so there are plenty of opportunities for UF to change my opinion. The aTm / Ole Miss game last night was fun to watch. Johnny Football is one heck of an athlete. We all saw that again in prime time as he was all over the field moving the football by running the ball and throwing it downfield.
Golf is in that little lull time we see this time of year. There is a long drive contest on the Golf Channel followed by the SAS Championship. The Tour is out at the Frys.com Open. I was a little disappointed to hear that Frys.com didn't want to give John Daly a sponsorship exemption to allow him in the field. At this point in the season I would have suspected that these sponsors would do anything possible to generate buzz around their event. For those of you wondering, all golf action will be limited to The golf Channel until the Farmers gets CBS coverage in January.
NFL action shows Steelers / Jets and Panthers / Vikings in the early games. The Jets' scenario looks to be its typical confusion. Can Rex Ryan hold on and do the improbable (that is, avoid being fired at the conclusion of this season)? There is always something to talk about from Jets' camp and it looks like this story will continue to play out until the final game is complete. Everyone feels terrible for Adrian Petterson's loss this past week. How something that terrible can happen to any young kid is incomprehensible. Obviously thoughts and prayers go out to him and everyone else close to the situation. The Saints head up to New England to take on the Patriots. The return of Shawn Payton and the resurgent Saints look to put the NFC South nearly out of reach with a win today. My Falcons have struggled on the year and will now have to press on without the services of Julio Jones. To even have a shot at the playoffs, the falcons will need to go at least 9-2 down the stretch. This seems nearly impossible for a team that currently sits with a 0.200 win percentage through five games.
Everyone enjoy the lead up to this week's football game at Clemson. This is exactly what we all have been looking forward to for years...A top five matchup with greatness on the line. Gameday will be there and the eyes of the college football world will again be staring at Pickens County all week and all day Saturday. All this said, I'll take this opportunity to remind STS fans to keep this season's success to date in the proper perspective. We beat Georgia-which is really important-but still have a lot of work to do if we want to win the conference and play for even bigger stakes. I've seen several comments in the threads that fire into each other and other programs. No one minds a little back and forth banter but we'd like to remind everyone to try and keep the discussions pithy and football related. All we ask is that comments are fair...being critical is perfectly acceptable and encouraged. On that note, we will not allow the shit talking to get out of control-especially this week. This website was created to provide a civil and honest forum to critically and accurately discuss Clemson athletics. It was not designed as an open forum for Clemsonfan on Clemsonfan violence nor a shit talking shootout with the opponent. If you see your posts removed, then it would be a good idea to not post that again. If you call out a moderator for policing the site, its a recipe for banishment. Then you'll be on TNet crying about being banned from STS like all the rest. Re-read those rules. Otherwise, let's have a good week as Saturday is a big one.