So I was traveling on an airplane and driving a rental car most of Saturday (not by choice--airline that will remain nameless...) and couldn't post with Kraken, my apologies. It was good though because I got to watch the game a couple of times now (in a state of massive euphoria, I might add) and have let things digest. Let me give you a couple of competing takes on the game.
First let me say that this is absolutely huge for recruiting. This win will pay huge dividends down the road and will be a catalyst for continuing to strengthen our roots in South Florida. This type of win means that local teams like Miami and Florida can't simply say we aren't a big time program anymore. Al Golden wasn't a great recruiter (meaning played by the book for the most part with the sanctions hanging over the program) and someone will undoubtedly step in with the mandate to improve things (i.e. throw around some cash). I can see the administration acquiescing since the program is in such disarray. We won't see the fruits of this win in 2016 but prospects in 2017 and 2018 took notice.
There was no chance this was going to be a letdown game because the entire team had never played Miami and all of the guys from Florida were completely jacked about playing in their home state. Kearse, Alexander, Yeargin, Leggett, McCloud, Cain, Scott, etc. were all hyped (probably overhyped to begin the game). The only real letdown game possibility on the schedule is next week on the road at NC State. We have struggled there recently and they have just enough talent to keep it interesting. With 2016 DT Dexter Lawrence supposedly in attendance, this will be a big chance for Clemson to reassert their supremacy in North Carolina.
Reason to Pump the Brakes:
It is hard to argue that everyone shouldn't have their collective feet stomped on the gas pedal to the national championship but was this Miami team really any good?
The loss of Miami's starting MLB and leading tackler is what made this game a complete blowout. Miami didn't play with any gap integrity. Sure number 51 Juwon Young body slammed Gallman and looked big and tough (I thought he could have been ejected for throwing a punch at Gallman in the endzone of the second TD of the game), but the defense had all kinds of trouble being disciplined and lining up properly. The offensive line still deserves a ton of credit, but the loss of Kirby crippled this team on defense.
Kaaya went out when the game was 28-0 so the game was in hand, but I think the score goes from 58-0 to something like 48-17 if he is in the game. Miami was able to move the ball at times with Kaaya in the game. Their first drive should have resulted in points. If Jadar Johnson doesn't jump the route and intercept that ball then the game remains competitive for the first quarter--maybe the first half. Coley is a good receiver and would have gotten a lot more yards on us with Kaaya.
The Miami offensive line played like hot garbage.
I'm not sold we have figured out our Nickel problem. But man--Brent Venables is freaking genius who is always innovating. I had never even thought about putting Mack Alexander at the Nickel and getting Baker on the field instead of Carter or Blanks. Baker still has a ways to go with regards to playing physically and would be a liability against a better running team but I love the creativity and getting him reps for next season (I thought he played pretty well until he got blindsided--something out of his control).
Even less Hopper please. That was a fumble and a scoop and score in my book.
Yes, Van Smith looked like the future in the 4th quarter and seriously flashed, but this was a reserve QB, demoralized players, and some junk balls. Both he and Gibson still need to learn how to play the nuances of the position (although I will say that Gibson busts more on the mental part of the game than Van in practices). Future is bright, however.
All I am saying is I'm not sure that we should feel completely comfortable about FSU just yet. The Miami team that played FSU competitively and the one that played us are two different teams.
Reason to Book Your Playoff Hotel Reservations:
This team is a juggernaut--we just got one coach fired and the looming shadow of our greatness caused another to resign in disgrace (except for the national media fawning all over Spurrier).
Offensive line. The line struggled against BC--no way around it. However, we absolutely dominated the line of scrimmage against Miami. This may be the best run blocking line we have had in the past ten seasons (maybe 2006 line was better??) and we are doing it with a true freshman LT. I want to take this moment to publicly rescind some of my negative comments about Taylor Hearn and Maverick Morris. Hearn has surprised me (and the coaching staff) with his ability to play some spot duty LT. If he can transition another ten-fifteen pounds into muscle then we might have ourselves a LG in the future. This offensive line looks so much better with Jay Guillermo at center over Ryan Norton. Fruhmorgan keeps a steady rate of improvement backing Joe Gore.
We still struggle with pass blocking on the right side and handling stunts, but this offensive line is not a liability we need to game plan around. We are pushing teams backwards on running plays!! Praises be to the and thine Oculus!! This is why I think we will not have any letdowns against lesser teams like State, Wake, Cuse, USCjr.
Gallman runs with violence and effort, fighting for every single yard. He delivers a blow and wears down opposing defenders. He deserves to be where he is at the top of the pecking order. But Zac Brooks is making a push to get even more playing time. He has an elite burst we haven't seen from him in the past to go along with his elite hands and improved vision.
Peake is improving. Peake had his best game. He caught the balls he should have and looked better after the catch but I was really impressed with his blocking. On the long Watson run you can see Peake shoved his man to the ground and wouldn't let him get up. That was impressive.
I don't get some of the things I see written about RayRay McCloud. Yes, he had a fumble and botched a kick but the kid is an electric true freshman. He consistently gets about 5-10 extra yards on plays where he makes the defense look silly. No, he hasn't broken anything wide open and taken it to the house, but he makes things happen. It is almost like all the first downs he is getting aren't good enough because we expect TDs, which is stupid.
Kevin Dodd. Not enough written about just how good he has been this year. Amazing jump from last year. His technique is off the charts--he has been able to shed blocks so well this year. There has been about 5 times this year where I thought a RB was going to get to the edge and shoot away for a big gain, only to see Dodd disengage from his man and rip the tackler to the ground. Textbook. Now the guy is showing he can rush the passer with consistency? Are you kidding me? Dodd is my vote for breakout performer of the year thus far. I have questioned (and continue to question) our DE depth but Dodd allays any major fears.
Yeargin got his first real action and performed well and Austin Bryant coming off of injury continues to look like a future player.
Welcome back, Mr. Reader. You are a big man. Depth at DT is secure.
LB is still an adventure along with the Nickel position. I really like what I am seeing from Dorian O'Daniel though. He is fundamentally so much better than he was a year ago. Boulware and Goodson must stay healthy.
Such a good experience for the future depth of the team to get those guys meaningful reps and letting our starters rest up. Hopefully we will see this a couple more times this season.
Twice during the game we had penalties where we could have gotten creative on kickoffs and tried something but we sent it flying out of the back of the endzone. Good move, good coaching. Keep Lakip kicking them into the third row, especially against FSU!
Lastly, I really think that Chris Spielman and Sean McDonough are some of the best, if not the best, announcers in college football. Spielman is opinionated and calls it like he sees it, but with a wealth of experience to back it up. Not an easy job. Kudos, gentlemen.