The Kraken's Take
Offensively, Deshaun came out a little off his game today and made some unusually bad throws for him. On the interception, Peake could've made a better effort for the ball that probably would've prevented it, but it was a non-Deshaun-like throw.
The bad snaps were very concerning. I counted four of those in the first half. I'm not sure who was the guilty party on all of those but, that cannot happen. Those are drive killers against good teams and at worst get us off schedule and put us in a definite passing situation which makes it easier on the opponent's defense.
We got off schedule a lot more this week and had trouble converting on 3rd and medium+.
Gallman was excellent today and that TD run where he destroyed the safety on the goalline was a thing of beauty. C.J. Davidson, on the other hand, did not run with authority and I thought he was the worst RB last week. I'm not sure why he came in as the #2 RB. Hopefully, it's a situation where this was his last chance before he gets buried on the depth chart.
The OL took a step back this week and was not as assertive in the run game. The pass protection was serviceable but there were breakdowns there too like the twist stunt where ASU got the sack.In short yardage, we converted a 4th and 1 but we were stuffed on the 3rd and 2 and didn't even try in the 3Q on the 4th and 1. The blocking on the corner by the WRs appeared to be poor again this week.
Watson got his groove back and dropped two deep balls right into the hands of Peake for two TDs. We were able to capitalize on ASU's mistakes and put the nail in the coffin, so that was good.
I was a little upset that we ran Watson a few times and also that he decided to run more today. We don't need that and the risk is not worth the reward. We saw a blatant facemask by an ASU player that could've hurt Watson. This is App State. By the way, I think the player should've been ejected for that.
The gameplan and play calling did not make sense to me like it did last week. I'm not sure what we were trying to establish and what weakness we were trying to exploit. It just seemed like a hodgepodge of plays that didn't exploit anything or set up anything for later.
Defensively, the DL was once again dominant. Pagano, Wilkins, Watkins, Lawson, and Dodd were all difference makers today. We have maintained the identity from last year where we get off the field in a hurry. Once again, we had so many 3 and outs or better and I was very pleased with the defensive dominance we saw for the 2nd week in a row.
Some of the decision making by the ASU QB was very questionable but, you still have to like the three 1st half interceptions. T.J. Green should've had a 4th but dropped a certain pick 6. Oh, and do not throw at Jayron Kearse.
Boulware was, as usual, fantastic when he is asked to blitz. He wreaks havoc back there and when he didn't blitz, he got in the passing lanes on a hot route and got an interception.
We mentioned last week about how Travis Blanks struggled a little bit against Wofford and I'm not sure if Blanks got hurt or was benched this week. We saw Ryan Carter debut at NB today and after he replaced Blanks in the late 1Q, I don't recall seeing Blanks for the rest of the game.
Tankersley finally got tested this week and got a PI call. If he turned around, he would've had a pick because the ball hit him in the helmet. Adrien Baker didn't look any better when he was in so, it's still Tank's job to lose and I'm fine with that. He has room for improvement still and he's gotta play to improve.
Depth on defense is still a concern. We saw a return of the porous defense from the spring game in the 4th quarter. The team speed and toughness up front dropped off a great deal when the 2s came in.
Schematically, we got abused by the middle screen that gave us trouble at times last year but, when they went back to it, we had it covered so that is encouraging.
The Dime of Doom returned this week after a siesta against Wofford last week. The Zone Blitz call in the Dime where Carlos Watkins had the pick 6 was just vintage Venables and again showed how his proficiency to make great calls at the right time.
Special Teams: Plain and simple, Kickoff coverage was horrific and needs to be fixed immediately.
It was nice to see predominately Artavis Scott at Punt Returner. Ray Ray got his opportunity after the game was decided as well. When he got his shot at KR, he capitalized, and I expect to see him back there more now.
Huegel seemed loose and relaxed but needed 2 rekicks to make his first FG and then missed his second FG from makeable distance. Looks like we are going to need Lakip back after all. At least we got a good kickoff guy out of this.
I agree with most of what Kraken said above--I'm just going to highlight a few points.
We came out flat. No way around it. The early performance showed the warts of this team.
Peake has to learn to be the guy. He showed poor effort on the pick that he could have easily gotten hands on. It was good to see him rebound but a lot of these WR's are going to have to learn to be the feature players and not just compliments. I hope everyone now sees that we will really miss Mike Williams (last season Williams also had to go through that progression to really be the main target and threat in the offense).
Scary moments when Watson looked like he could have been injured. The Center position is an obvious weakness and hasn't improved from last season. If this team has to rely on Dr. Scheuss then this is a .500 team. Scary that Kelly Bryant got his helmet knocked off and had a bloody nose and possible concussion.
The offensive line did not have a good day and was confused by an odd front and where pressure was coming from. Gore was completely lost on a bunch of stunts and the interior blocking got no push. Hyatt has a fall start penalty and didn't have as good a game as his first performance. Snapping was atrocious all day.
I don't agree with CJ Davidson as the second string RB.
Stanton Seckinger left off from last year and had another poor blocking performance. The injury limits his mobility in the passing game. He shouldn't be on the field. Period. Anyone giving that bad of a blocking performance should be benched. Our WR and perimeter blocking was also not very good today. Jeff Scott needs to emphasize those blocking fundamentals (another area where we miss M. Williams).
First, I'm seeing a few extra pounds on some of our lineman that I don't want to see. Guys have to be in shape all year to withstand the rigors of the season. The interior of the line looked good again, however. We did a good job with starters defending against the run. I did not see much, if any, semblance of a pass rush without help from blitzing pressure. The front four aren't generating much of a pass rush, which will be problematic in the future.
A few breakdowns in the secondary but nothing major.
Second string defense was not good and shows how little depth we have. The second string LB's definitely struggled. Jalen Williams can't shed blocks and Joseph is a player but is still recovering from injuries. I will take this opportunity to say that App State's LB Eric Boggs, who played a very good game, wanted a Clemson scholarship. We could only offer a walk-on spot despite Coach Venables really, really wanting him. We couldn't make room because we had grayshirts with the Davis twins and Williams. Looks like Venables was right on that one--Boggs would be in our two deep. App State was able to march down the field against our 2's mixed with a few ones, which is concerning.
Oh boy. Now you see why all offseason I have said the kicking game would be an adventure. Kickoff coverage was awful. Glad we learned that now and not against Louisville or ND. We might have been better off today kicking it out of bounds the entire day. A better returner would have taken one of those to the house. We must get the ball in the endzone.
Why can we not improve on kick and punt coverage? No one blocks on punt returns and the kickoff coverage exposes our lack of quality depth.
I'm actually glad Huegel got all those opportunities to kick. He just needs to be solid from the 40 in. We can't rely on him to win us games though.
Overall this was a productive game because it showed that the offense is not some kind of juggernaut right now and needs a lot of work. The defense showed how little quality depth we have and the special teams showed why Danny Pearman and the staff have a lot of questions to answer (yet again).