This weekend was tough. This game was exhausting enough as a fan, so I can only imagine what the players went through. That being said, there were a lot of positives from this game. One is that the quarterback situation is pretty much solved. I love Cole Stoudt. I really am cheering for him and appreciate that he stayed at Clemson, despite being Tajh's backup from 2011-2013 and then, going into his Senior season, competing with (at one point) Chad Kelly and Deshaun Watson. Cole is a great guy and is good enough to be a starting quarterback for Clemson, but Deshaun Watson has separated himself. He is a special player that has the tools to be the best quarterback Clemson has ever had by the end of his career in the orange and purple.
Another plus is that our team just took the #1 team in America to OT. I know they didn't have Jameis, but that was still an impressive performance. We are not going to see another team that good for the rest of the year. A lot of people figured we'd be 1-2 to start the year, but I think actually having to stomach that, especially when we were so close to beating FSU, is a hard thing to do. It's frustrating, but we should move back to the winning side this week, and be back in the top 25 within a few weeks. This is a temporary set back that isn't even that bad. So, let's take a look at some of the performances from Saturday's Game.
Deshaun Watson, QB, Freshman, A-: No way that I couldn't grade D-Wat this week. Just looking at his stat line does not do his performance justice. He went 19/28 passing with 266 yards and ran 12 times for 30 yards with 1 rushing TD. It wasn't an eye popping performance, stat wise, but you have to look at the whole situation. A true freshman goes into a road game against a stud defense, where he isn't starting and is probably only expecting to get in on a handful of series, ends up playing quarterback for 3 and 1/3 quarters plus overtime. He makes some great plays and gave the Tigers a chance to win the game. Watson earned the starting job. I agree with Dabo, it wasn't that Stoudt did anything to lose the job, but that Watson played so well they kept with him. I'm excited to see what he can do with his first start against a weaker defense in UNC.
CJ Davidson, RB, Junior, D: The running back position was pretty disappointing this game. Not having a solid power back really hurt this game, as the late third quarter goal line blunder and the failed fourth down attempt in overtime could have been avoided by going under center and feeding the ball to someone. Instead, we tried to use speed and angles and came away with an L.
CJ Davidson did pretty well against UGA, but not as well this week. He ran for a team high 54 yards, which isn't bad, but isn't great. He was also stopped on 1st and goal at the 1, which set up that errant snap on second down. He also had the fumble late in the fourth quarter, which prevented Clemson from taking the lead, effectively setting up overtime. Those 2 incidences could've been why Coach Morris elected to give Adam Choice the ball on 4th and 1. Clemson didn't need a Todd Gurley on Saturday. We just needed a guy who could constantly pick up short yardage and hold on to the ball, which we didn't have.
Vic Beasley, DE, Senior, A: The Beast stepped it up this weekend and looked like the player that we knew he could be. He was a force in the backfield, sacking Sean Maguire twice. By doing this, Beasley earned his 24th and 25th career sacks, tying him with William "Refrigerator" Perry for #3 on the all time Clemson sack list. He needs 3 sacks to tie The Fridge's brother, Michael Dean Perry, and the late Gaines Adams for the #1 spot on the list.
Corey Crawford, DE, Senior, A-: Crawford felt the ire of Clemson fans after the UGA game because of his suspension, which took away depth, meaning Clemson was using winded 2nd string and 3rd string Ends by the end of that game. He made up for it Saturday by playing lights out. Corey was all over the field, sacked Maguire once, and played at a high level. The entire DLine played well, holding FSU to 13 yards rushing. Sean Maguire was sacked a total of 5 times for a combined loss of 59 yards.
Bradley Pinion, P, Junior, A: Pinion had a pretty good day punting, going 7 punts for 302 yards and dropping 2 inside the 20. Field position wasn't as big of an issue as it was in the UGA game, so Pinion had the benefit of not punting out of the back of his end zone for most of the game. Once again, he continues to bring constancy to the kicking game and helps out the defense.