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Instant Reaction: Boston College

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The Tigers quiet the Eagles (Cain, get it in next time...but still--good job)
The Tigers quiet the Eagles (Cain, get it in next time...but still--good job)
Tyler Smith/Getty Images

The Kraken

Clemson rallied from a 7 point deficit early to overwhelm BC and their top ranked defense 34-17.  The offense faced a very stiff test tonight and passed. It wasn't all sunshine and unicorns at first, but in the 2nd half the Tigers performed exceptionally well.

We came out making mistakes and committing penalties and BC capitalized.  The natives were restless.  Perhaps the key moment in the game happened in the 1Q when were down 7-0 and punting from deep in our territory.  Teasdall's punt attempt probably should've been blocked and BC might've gone up 14-0. Instead, we ended up with a roughing the kicker penalty that restarted the drive. The offense then took the ball down and scored to tie it up at 7. After that, we seized control of the game and gradually delivered body blows after body blows until we went up comfortably in the 3rd quarter.

Offense:

BC's defense was as advertised up front.  We struggled to run the ball at first with Gallman, but it seemed like there were some holes to the outside. I've mentioned Gallman's vision issues and how he gets around that before, but we really needed a spark in the running game early.  The coaches replaced Gallman with Zac Brooks and he confirmed that the holes were off tackle when he took his first carry outside for a huge gain. Brooks ended up playing the most snaps he's played this year, and performed well in every aspect except for pass protection.  His pass pro bust was responsible for one of Watson's INTs.  I like the way he was used as both a RB and a WR.  As I posted on the gamethread, he became one more bullet in our clip.

BC's secondary was ripe for the picking all game.  In the first half, we had guys running free downfield but DeShaun Watson struggled throwing the deep ball. He was an uncharacteristic 0-8 on deep balls in the first half.  Watson also had 2 interceptions in the first half to go along with that. The first one was on a floating deep ball and led to a 7-0 BC lead.

Watson would rebound. He completed his first deep ball to Peake in the 2nd half, got a fortunate PI penalty on his 2nd and completed his 3rd and 4th to Scott. The 4th being the TD that broke things wide open and made it 27-10. Then there was the gorgeous toss to Leggett on the corner route. Wow, was that gorgeous.

After a bad 1st half throwing the ball, all was right in the world again in the 2nd half. Credit to ScElliot for continuing to have faith in Watson and continuing to take what the defense was giving us, which were deep ball opportunities.  ScElliot's best call of the night, though, had to be that 4th and 1 bootleg call where Watson found a wide open Brooks with a lane for a TD.

Artavis Scott had a huge night. He took a slant play for a huge gain in the 1st quarter and then had the big TD on the go-route in the 2nd half. The Freshman 5-star, Deon Cain, continues to impress as he approached 100 yards receiving for the 2nd week in a row.  Hunter Renfrow is a player. I don't care what his recruiting ranking says, he has the potential to be special.  I've said it before but, he reminds me so much of Jaron Brown.

We had some pass protection issues in the 2nd quarter but that seemed to get cleaned up in the 2nd half.  I thought, once again, Watson took too many hits and I didn't like seeing him with the ice pack on his wrist at the end of the game. I hope he's healthy and ready to go next week.

Did we really run I formation with Watson under center in the 4th quarter?

Defense:

We took a little siesta from our hyper-aggressive style on defense in this game. Part of that was due to our schematic choice and part of it was just effort level.  We all expected to completely shut their previously inept offense down, but BC did give us some trouble. Their new QB, Jeff Smith, had serious wheels and had to be accounted for in both the running game and scrambling out of the pocket.  His arm and decision making were a little better than I expected as well.

Schematically, we started the game by having the safeties deep and the Sam lining up back beyond LB depth.  Venables was clearly scheming to not give up a big play. The thought process being that they had no chance of consistently moving the ball and scoring points on us.  To BC's credit they showed up ready to fight and only resorted to a gimmick play one time.

They had success with the usual plays that give us trouble like Power Sweep and Tunnel Screen and they used a two TE set to generate some push on our front 6 early on as well.  After we we scored to make it 17-7, we reverted back to the defensive style we are accustomed to seeing out of our defense.

One thing that was a theme all game was that Smith's hard count seemed to get our DL to jump a good bit. Also, we saw a 45 yard run against the starters and we haven't seen anything like that yet this year.

Special Teams:

Greg Huegel was 2 for 2 with FGs of 42 and 39 yards.

BC's punting and punt coverage was exceptional.

Summary:

We are still undefeated, but our three game homestand is over and we go on the road for two games before our big showdown with Florida State (who, btw, looked great in the 2nd half today).  The Tigers travel to Miami next week. If the offense got their test this week, then the defense will get its test with Brad Kaaya, Joseph Yearby, and the potent Miami offense next week.

QT's Take:

Hats off to BC. Everyone needs to remember that Florida State only beat this team 14-0. This is a tough football team and if BC had any semblance of skill players or a QB who can throw they could be very dangerous. I definitely think that the home field advantage helped us to not get rattled early and settle down. Their rookie RB and punter had outstanding games and controlled the field position.

This is the first game that I thought the officiating was really uneven, calling an inordinate amount of false start penalties on both teams. Both teams got some calls they probably shouldn't have. It was ugly but we still really won by 24 (gave up the garbage time TD with the backups in the game). I don't think we gave BC enough credit coming into the game, which means we didn't sleepwalk into the matchup--we just had more of a struggle early than we anticipated against a good team.

Offense:

Watson has to clean up some of these errant long throws up the hash. The second interception came because of a hit, which is on the O-line more than Watson. He did end up throwing for over 400 yards with three TDs and a rushing TD. Not a bad day of work, but the turnovers were what kept BC in the game. We need to clean that up as we learn to play on the road.

Running game looked like the running game of past Clemson teams. I will say that Zac Brooks continues to impress and had some great plays out of the backfield. That will hopefully continue.

No push up front at all, however. We got owned up the middle and Gallman got stacked up consistently for the first time since the beginning of last year. Hopefully this is a wake up call that those guys need to put in more work. I keep seeing a few players packing on a couple extra pounds--it is that time in the season where guys let things slide and grab too many burgers and Bojangles. To be a championship team we need to have that push--we got it against Notre Dame and GT. Lets hope this was just an anomaly and blip for the Oline. We absolutely let Watson get hit far too much. Refs let a few late shots go that should have been called, but it was not a great night for the Oline.

With the Oline struggling I liked the switch to the short and intermediate routes. We won the game because we were able to consistently pick on their Nickel defender. I felt like the wide receivers stepped up after some early game drops. Peake even high pointed the ball! Scott again showed why he is our premier guy. The basket, over the shoulder catch was an important catch and his ability to beat his guy one on one cracked the game open for us.

Also Cain with the TD and over 60 yards (just give me the MTD Kraken...come on...I was screaming at him to get in and quit high stepping whatever...haha). Seriously his juggling catch early in the first quarter was what settled us down and helped us regain momentum (also thanks BC for the roughing the kicker penalty--I'll take it).

Can't argue with the 34 points. Hopefully Deshaun will be completely healthy because we will need him against Miami to be at his best. Get it together Oline!

Defense:

Let me start with kudos to Scott Pagano. He is an unsung hero because he doesn't get the stats and we all love the War Daddy Wilkins, but his play has set the tone for the defense. He has made the loss of Jarrett manageable.

We only gave up 10 real points and shut things down in the second half, but I was disappointed in our play off of sudden changes. We couldn't hold BC to a FG and gave up the third down TD in the red zone. This game is a lot different if it is 17-6 at halftime and it easily could have been.

Despite our good play we let their RBs get way too many yards on us. Like Kraken said above, Venables was content to not allow BC to bust any big plays or use junk plays to beat us rather than blitzing. We had Jadar Johnson playing more at Safety and Kearse playing in the box. We played more tenative and the BC offensive line had no problem swallowing our smaller LBs and stopping our rushing attack. Lawson wasn't as big of a factor in this game than he should have been. Again, we didn't get to play many backups until the final two drives (one where we gave up a TD).

We played well, but I expected us to stone an anemic BC offense.

Special Teams:

Scott needs to be more decisive on some of his returns. Plant the foot and go. I actually think McCloud is a much better returner but understand going with Scott and avoiding any turnovers. Lakip kicked the ball out of the endzone--please keep this up for FSU and Miami.

Now it is time for this team to become Road Warriors! Got to keep Watson healthy--had a bag of ice on the hand and seemed to tweak his hamstring slightly in the 4th quarter. Hopefully just normal bumps and bruises but something to keep an eye on this week.