clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Player Grades: North Carolina vs Clemson

New, 98 comments

The Tigers finish move to 13-0 with a 45-37 ACC Championship victory in Charlotte. See who made the grade as we move on to the playoffs

Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Offense

Deshaun Watson, QB, Sophomore, A+: Deshaun put the final touches on his Heisman resume with a great performance against the Tar Heels. Watson completed 26 passes for 289 yards and 3 touchdowns. On the ground, Watson ran for 131 yards and 2 more touchdowns. Watson's big flaw this year has been interceptions, and he did throw one Saturday, but the pick he threw was a controversial one. His pass was tipped in the 3rd quarter and intercepted by a diving Nazair Jones, at least that's how it looked at first glance. The officials ruled it an interception, but then reviewed it. It clearly looked like the ball moved as it hit the ground, which commonly ruled an incomplete pass, but there was not indisputable evidence for it to be incomplete, so it stood as a pick. Had the refs called it incomplete on the field, it most likely would have stood as incomplete. Regardless, this wasn't a typical interception, and otherwise Deshaun had a great game.

Wayne Gallman, RB, Sophomore, A+: The Wayne Train was slow to start, but once he got going, he ran over the Tar Heels. 255 all purpose yards on the day, 187 on the ground and 68 on receiving. He also ran for a touchdown and caught a touchdown. Gallman looks to be recovered from injury and should continue to look like the Wayne Train we all know and love in the playoffs.

Defense

Jayron Kearse, S, Junior, B-: Kearse has discussed how the team was tired from the grind of 11 straight games, and that was evident Saturday. There were definitely some holes in the secondary that got exploited by UNC. This is not all on Kearse, but it was evident on UNC's late touchdown where he had a chance to knock Ryan Switzer out of bounds but went for an arm tackle, allowing him to stroll in to the end zone, giving UNC the touchdown and extra point necessary put them in a one score game. Kearse and the entire defense will definitely benefit from the time off before the Orange Bowl, and I look to see a solid performance in Miami.

Van Smith, S, Freshman, A-: I applauded Van Smith's performance in the rout of Miami this year and hoped it would give him a chance at more playing time. He got his chance, unfortunately because of a targeting call that led to the ejection of TJ Green on a punt. Smith came in for the second half and finished as second on the team in tackles. Clemson missed Green during the second half, but Van definitely provided a spark. I also liked Van Smith's effort on Marquise Jones's 3rd quarter touchdown run. Van was in a tough one on one match up on a bootleg run with a larger Jones, but did his best to lay a hit on him, but a tough angle allowed Jones to fall into the end zone. Smith should be a great asset for Clemson over the next few seasons.

Special Teams

Andy Teasdall, P, RS Junior, D: 5 punts for 199 yards is a not a bad game. He had a few bad punts, but nothing just terrible. What makes his grade so low was the terrible second quarter decision to try to run the ball himself on a 4th and long so deep on Clemson's own side of the field. The play set up a UNC touchdown, giving them the lead. It was not a designed run, and Dabo was furious at his decision. I'm not sure his reasoning for this run, but I doubt we ever see him try this again.