Before I gripe and groan on a Monday, let me give some credit to a couple of guys (not all negativity, see!). The Gambler, aka GPeters, played one of his best games to date. Solid in coverage and played tough most of the game. Those tunnel screens were an embarrassment to the entire defensive team but Peters is improving. I think you can see how Coach Reed is teaching solid fundamentals in pass coverage. Robert Smith interception was just textbook, no biting on the double move and being in perfect position (if only Smith wouldn't get caught flat footed, taking suspect angles, and slow as molasses coming up to make tackles).
One of the big benefits to having Deshaun Watson playing QB is that he instantly becomes a recruiting draw and chip the coaches can play. I have never thought that Ray Ray 'man crush' McCloud was going anywhere but I am absolutely sure that seeing him playing QB and knowing that is the guy who is going to be slinging it around next year is a huge draw. His official went splendidly by the way--complete with a visit and tour from the Prez. We couldn't have picked a bigger football advocate--just an amazing difference from Barker.
The other recruit in attendance who was certainly paying attention to Watson was all-world RB Tavien Feaster. We have the lead here and it seemed at one point a couple of months ago that Feaster was all but committed. Now the entire country is going after Feaster with Auburn and Tennessee as our prime competitors right now. We have staying power and Watson is a big help for us. Who doesn't want to play with a star, stable QB?
Lastly NC DE Darian Roseboro (6'4 270) de-committed from the Michigan train-wreck in progress. This has been in the works for a couple of weeks now. Unfortunately N.C. State finished second for him and we finished third after we stopped going really hard after him (granted he wasn't reciprocating at that point). I say we need the DE depth and should try to get him in the Valley. Featherston playing for FSU shows you can never have enough quality depth on the D-line. Long shot right now but State isn't going to have a great season--Go get it done Dabo!
I love that the ESPN announcers called the offensive line soft and 'serviceable'. No worse insult to an O-line. Hard to argue with their assessment (as an aside that was one of the worst broadcasts I have heard in awhile (they need to get back to the 'classroom' with Deshaun Anthony)?? Really? Munson has been his own special brand of disaster (that back with the carry, some dude in a jersey caught the ball).
We seemed to make some progress against FSU but this past weekend we were plain awful at the point of attack. Some of it was bad playing, some of it was DJ Howard but it was ugly. I do not believe that this is on Coach Caldwell. At times the line plays with good technique but when they get tired, they get sloppy and it gets really bad quickly. I know the Dabo lovers hate to hear it but we have had this same problem for 20 years with multiple coaches. Caldwell is one of the most respected in the business. It ain't just coaching. Part of it is a lack of continuity on the line but when Joe Gore can't cut it at RT and you have no one behind him, no one, then you have to do a ton of shuffling.
Part of it is not taking enough O-line commitments consistently every year but the common denominator is that Clemson is getting Batsoned. On defense we play against a tempo team every day in practice but our defense was gassed. When that happens they can't tackle or wrap up anybody. Dabo talks about finishing but needs to ask that question to his S&C staff--endurance, muscle memory, fight in the trenches, functional strength?? It is hard to deny.
Specifically, Battle had another mediocre performance for a guy who is supposed to be trying to get to the NFL. He has been difficult in practice and pretty much a basket case this year. Major disappointment. Needs more maturing but there is no one behind him, no one. Gore is the same head case with untapped potential. Kalon Davis at RT is serviceable but really struggles with his feet in pass coverage. David Beasley is still really, really fat. Norton is too small and gets zero push while Guillermo has been banged up (did get 47 snaps in the game).
I'm not trying to be mean to Howard. He should have played LB like Auburn wanted him to in his recruitment so he is really just miscast but I can't think of a worse RB in recent Clemson history to get as many carries as Howard. He runs upright with zero vision (often into his own lineman) and most frustratingly never gets any yards after contact. Forget about that Auburn game so many years ago--this guy gets 13 carries and averages 2.2 ypc. Choice only got three carries because of a deep thigh bruise and Gallman got one because of the incomplete pass. Gallman should have gotten more.
Davidson is a step slower this year. I popped in some Ohio State footage from last year just to make sure. He is the speed guy and is pretty electric every time he gets the ball on a jet sweep. He gets to the edge every time. He is just slower after being bulked up by the S&C staff.
Howard, Stoudt, even Humphries and Norton should all see diminished playing time as the season goes on.
Oh yeah Stoudt. I'm sorry, this isn't even a question. Stoudt sealed his fate against Georgia because he could not throw the ball downfield against their suspect secondary. He doesn't have the running ability, pocket presence, arm strength, and locks on to primary receivers too much. Total disruption of the offensive flow in the first half when we have them on their heels. I actually didn't mind the way the coaching staff handled this up to this point but it can't go on like Stoudt has earned the right to play in the first quarter.
You feel for the guy but Dabo is going to make me start hating on him if he goes in a game where we are only up by two scores. Robert Smith bails the entire team out with that interception. A TD there and we are an onside kick away from a potential game tying score.
Just not smart coaching or football. Sure you want the guy to get reps but if he goes in and fumbles?? It is actually not fair to Cole to put him in that situation.
Swinney was very happy with his special teams play. I guess returning one kick for plus yardage and not missing field goals is an improvement but I saw more of the same. Suspect kick coverage where Pinion has to save the day--it just shouldn't happen with such regularity. Granted our kick team is like playing 10 on 11--sorry, but it just is.
What is the deal with opposing kickers have historic days against us? No one has shanked a kick yet. When someone kicks it 50+ yards, we should expect a return. Not everyone is just pooch kicking it, we just suck at blocking anyone.
I'm still not convinced that Lakip has the mental makeup or the mechanics to last as kicker. Obviously you go with him until he breaks this year. I understand he is a young kicker but this is no Catman situation. Unfortunately I don't think much of Alex Spence, certainly not Pinion either. We have a couple of walk-ons that I think deserve a crack at this, if not this year then certainly next year.