|South Carolina State||0||0||0||7||7|
I'll keep it brief because with a game like this, it is what it is. Focused is the word I'd use. In this type of a game the main thing you look for is execution and focus. The Tigers had both in spades on Saturday. South Carolina State is not a completely terrible team. They went 9-4 last year and were coming off their own 63-0 beat down of Benedict College last week. Not to mention we didn't hand them their asses this badly when we played them last year. In fact, no one in the FBS has ever beaten the Bulldogs this badly. Clemson scored the most points since the 82 spot we dropped on Wake Forest in '81. Normally we'd cruise to about 50 and then pump the brakes but that didn't happen this time.
As a whole the offense looked more up-tempo. It also ran a lot smoother, especially when Deshaun Watson was in the game. The offensive line played better, but that is to be expected against the level of competition. They only gave up one sack on the day and both quarterbacks had time to operate. The running game also looked nice.
Wayne Gallman and Adam Choice both got more carries and looked better than D.J. Howard. He ripped off a 20 yarder in the third quarter which upped his YPC, but the freshmen backs just looked like the better runners to me. Choice is every bit the beast the staff has been saying. There were a couple of whiffed blocks from the running backs but all in all, I wouldn't say they did too bad in that department either. I don't think there's any excuse these two guys don't get the bulk of the carries this year. Kurt Fleming also looked nice and adds a home run threat to the running game if he can work on his ball security after fumbling twice.
Deshaun Watson once again looked like the stronger quarterback. Cole Stoudt had a nice day passing the ball, going for 300 yards but Watson just has the look of an elite quarterback. His arm strength and his "escapability" add another dimension to our offense. He once again stepped out of a sack on Saturday, Woodrow Dantzler style. If our offensive line continues to struggle then this is a must for us. Once again he didn't play as much as I would have liked. He was in for only four series the entire game. It's worth noting that each one went for a touchdown. Three touchdown tosses in four possessions is pretty good. The only not so great throw I saw was a touchdown pass to Charone Peake who reeled it in with one hand, Spiderman style. Call it the "it factor" or moxie. Whatever it is, he has it. The offense just steps it up a notch when he's out there. It's going to get more and more difficult for the staff to defend starting Cole over him as the year goes on.
I'm also not sure why Adam Humphries is starting over Artavis Scott. He's a solid guy but Artavis is the closest thing we have to a Sammy Watkins type of player right now. He lit up the SC State secondary to the tune of 164 yards and 2 touchdowns, setting a freshman record. We really need his ability to stretch the field in the future. He also had a great effort play to bat down what should have been an INT from Cole Stoudt.
Also in the receiving game, there was a tight end sighting. Not where you would expect though. All offseason we heard about Jordan Leggett and his supporting cast but today Jay Jay McCullough looked like the best tight end on the roster. Mike Williams had a solid day and the aforementioned Peake touchdown catch was a thing of pure beauty.
What can you say about the defense? They were flat out dominant. South Carolina State only had 5 first downs the entire game. They had a measly 44 yards of total offense. The only reason they were in the positive rushing the ball was because of a 40 yard scamper by Dondre Lewis-Freeman before the half. The front seven was as dominant as we thought they would be this year. They had 12 tackles for a loss with Korrin Wiggins and Garry Peters chipping in for two more. Vic Beasley, Shaq Anthony, Martin Aiken and B.J. Goodson each registered a sack. If you exclude Lewis-Freeman's 40 yard run, the Bulldogs lost 37 yards rushing the ball.
It was hard to get a read on the secondary due to how dominant the defensive line was. The Bulldogs only attempted 25 passes. Jayron Kearse looked better with a couple of pass breakups and no big busted plays. Jadar Johnson added in a nice 60 yard interception return for a touchdown. The defense even registered a safety but it was because their long snapper snapped the ball over the punter's head deep in their own territory. Technically, the D pitched a shutout. They wouldn't have scored at all if not for a Dominique Mitchell 35-yard fumble return off of a Kurt Fleming fumble late in the 4th.
The return game is still nonexistent. Granted there were only 2 punt returns and 3 kickoff returns. Humphries still got the start as the main punt return man, but once the game was out of hand the staff gave Mackensie Alexander a couple of chances (he let one bounce and called a fair catch on the other) as well as Germone Hopper. It's a shame one of them didn't break off a huge return and give the staff confidence to go with them against FSU.
The kickoff coverage was also not on display because we never punted and Pinion kept kicking it into the end zone. We kept kicking pooch kicks/squib kicks too. I'm not sure what that was about. Dabo said something after the game about doing it to practice our coverage but that makes no sense to me. Ammon Lakip redeemed himself today going 3/3 on field goals, his longest being a 38 yarder. He and Pinion were perfect on PATs but Corbin Jenkins missed one.
So what do we take from this dominant performance? Not a whole lot. Probably that the coaching staff and the team as a whole is still pissed from last week and looking to make a statement. You have to take into account who we were playing but you also have to give credit where it is due. Nothing is given in college football especially with all the upsets being pulled off by the little schools in recent years. It was nice to see the team come out and flat out kill a semi-respectable FCS opponent and play a lot of guys in the process. We will need to develop that depth as the year goes on because we didn't look "Too Deep" against Georgia by any means. It looks like we have a lot of young guys on this team that can contribute if only they are given the opportunity. My hope is that Chad Morris won't go into full on meltdown mode and forget guys like Choice, Scott, Gallman, and even Watson if Florida State starts pulling away early two weeks from now. If he starts throwing D.J. Howard at them all night long then we are in for another bruising.