Saturday night was a great step in getting back in the right direction for this team. There were some frustrating moments, and I felt the game was closer than it should have been, but overall we played well and came out with a 15 point win. That's definitely worthy of applause. As requested, I'm going to tweak my grades a bit. What I am going to try this week is do a grade for two offensive players, one offensive unit, two defensive players, one defensive unit, and then one or two players on special teams, depending on how the game goes.
I appreciate all our readers support and input on the articles. Y'all are what makes STS so great, and I appreciate all comments on any of my articles.
Germone Hopper, WR, RS Soph, A+: Hopper has been a guy that I have been excited about for a while now. I thought he has the speed to be our exciting play maker. This game he really stepped it up. He only had three snags, but the first two of them he took to the house, one for 74 yards and the other for 50. He seems to have gotten his head straight after his spring suspension, and I'm really looking forward to what this kid can do. His 139 yards led the team, which had a great game receiving. While his second touchdown was the shorter of the two, it really impressed me how he was able to catch the ball in stride and then just out run the cornerback who was only a few steps behind him. I expect to see him keep it going this season so don't be surprised to hear his name called in Death Valley some more this year.
Deshaun Watson, QB, Freshman, A+: I don't like doing the same player two weeks in a row, but with the game Watson had, I felt like I had to comment on him. In his first start, he was money. 6 TDs, 435 yards, and hit 75% of his passes. Watson's 6 touchdowns broke both the Clemson record and ACC freshman record for touchdown passes in a game. He also was very mobile, avoiding multiple sacks and rattling off 28 yards rushing. While I still don't fault the coaches for giving Stoudt his shot, performances like this make me wonder what it was that kept the coaches from turning the offense over to him before the season. It's hard to make evaluations on a freshman before the season, but Watson looks as game ready, if not more, than CJ Spiller, Deandre Hopkins, or Sammy Watkins did in their first seasons.
Offensive Line, D+: The offensive line seems to be a hot issues amongst Tiger fans, and once again, this unit struggled. On the passing side, the OL gave up 3 sacks, but it very easily could have been more had Deshaun not made a few great plays. As far as rushing goes, it was the same story. The team ran for 92 yards, and there was no faith in the run game. On our 4th quarter touchdown drive, I was actually not upset to see us get a false start penalty because I knew we had a better chance to score if we could spread the field out and throw it. We finally let Watson go under center, and couldn't get him across the goal line from 1 yard out. Jay Guillermo got some reps late in the game at center, which was good to see.
Gary Peters, CB, Senior, A: For the second week in a row, Gary has brought it. He had 8 tackles on the game. In the first half he made a very impressive open field tackle on either a screen play or a running play, that definitely stopped a big yardage play that might have even been a touchdown. He broke up two passes and kept his receivers covered well throughout the game. I've been impressed with him over the past two weeks.
Stephone Anthony, LB, Senior, B+: Anthony is another guy who has been lights out over the past two games. He was all over the field Saturday night. He is giving 100% effort on pretty much every play he's in, and racked up 6 tackles against the Tar Heels. He is a boss right now, and I expect him to keep this going. Even though our defense didn't have its best game, Anthony was "on" Saturday. There were a few plays that he slipped up on. The 4th quarter 75 yard touchdown by Ryan Switzer comes to mind. He was dropped in coverage, went to his left and then got blocked by two guys. Some of that was just design, but Switzer had a huge gap right up the middle, where Anthony had been. Other than that, he had a solid night.
Defensive Line, B: Another quality outing by our DL. Vic Beasley had 2 sacks, while Shaq Lawson had 1. We held the Heels to 80 yards rushing. The only negative was that I felt both Marquise Williams and Mitch Trubisky had way too much time in the backfield on too many plays. There were a lot of plays were we had good coverage, but Williams had time to sit in the back field and make a good throw once he could find an open receiver. Overall though, 3 sacks is a good game, and Williams did get knocked down a few times, we were able to pressure him at times.
Ammon Lakip, K, Junior, A: I don't know that I've ever been this excited about a kicker going 2/2. After a bad performance at FSU, Lakip looks like he may have his head cleared. His 27-yarder was a nice chip shot to restore both his confidence and the fans confidence, and then he launched a 45-yarder which impressed everyone. It will still be interesting to see how he does during the next road game. His only misses have been at UGA and FSU. While the other road games may not have the atmosphere that those games had, it will still add a different challenge.