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In Depth: Clemson Tigers Trounce The Citadel

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NCAA Football: The Citadel at Clemson
The season rests on your arm KB. Make it work...
Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

We beat The Citadel. By a lot. Good times. How is that for in-depth?

Fine. Fine—a few points of emphasis (tough to say much on defense since we faced a team running the option and the team wasn’t great on defense).

Offense

Kelly Bryant threw a nice deep ball or two and Cain caught them. He looked comfortable in the pocket and his mechanics were cleaner. I agree with Dabo that the offense felt like it was in rhythm and clicking. If we can continue that momentum against USCjr then we will have something, right now it is just nice to know that it is possible. He started with a shaky deep ball to McCloud where McCloud needed to turn into a DB, but settled down after that.

Hunter Johnson hype train! Toot Toot! HJ played just 16 snaps, making it only 56 for the season thus far(well below the 100 snaps you want when burning a redshirt), compared to 18 snaps for Cooper and 91 snaps for him on the season. HJ looked like he was confident and in command of the offense. HJ is rightfully the back-up to KB. Cooper in his snaps showed his arm, but also his inaccuracy and questionable decision making at times. Hunter has settled in and looks comfortable—that was always his issue.

Finally we gave Tee Higgins some chances down the field. You see the speed, the length, the fight when the ball is in the air. He needs to work on his releases at the line of scrimmage and gaining better separation on cuts, but he really just needs some experience (I loved Amir Trapp just shaking his head as he watched that one handed catch on the sideline). Overton and Higgins are quite the combo. Look for more 4 wide sets as the competition increases (it was a part of the install back in Spring).

Congrats to TJ Chase on the TD. He keep getting a glimpse of his potential and how he will be more than an adequate replacement for Renfrow eventually. Chase is just a redshirt freshman.

ETN? What a beast. The YAC this guy generates is insane. His ability as a true freshman to absorb contact and not only gain more yards, but shed tacklers with regularity is something else. He has been the difference this year on offense and he has been our most consistent red zone scoring threat.

Feaster had a great run to start the first half after a solid return from Rodgers. He beat the Safety and was able to score with the help of some good down the field blocking from Cain and Rodgers. Great effort.

Anchrum started at the LT spot for an injured Mitch Hyatt. This was a wise decision by the coaching staff. The ankle has been bothering Hyatt for a couple of weeks and he has battled through it, but the rest was opportune. Anchrum dominated the undersized lineman.

Simpson got 40 snaps and played a good bit alongside Cervenka who played 32 snaps. Simpson was a mixed bag, he was playing really well and then missed a block that led to a KB sack in the redzone. He is still putting it together, but should be ready to start next year.

Hey look—we executed a screen pass play and Hunter Renfrow got in the endzone (after a Greenlee dropped TD). It can be done!

Defense

Chad Smith injured his calf on the opening kickoff or else he would have played most of the game. Unfortunate for him, but Skalski stepped in and played a season high 36 snaps (only 81 on the season—he needs more snaps). I was impressed by the way he stood players up, met them in the hole, and didn’t let them lean or fall forward. It was just Citadel, but it was encouraging to see. On the first drive he missed a run fit or two, but settled down and was dominant for most of his snaps. With Tre Lamar out, he will need to play against USCjr.

Trayvon Mullen with an absolute beauty of an interception. Undercutting the wide receiver and snatching the ball away. More of that, please!

Simmons coming up in run support is a monster. He will be our D’OD against the option next season.

Good to see Marcus Edmond out on the field and looking healthy.

AJ Terrell was excellent in run support from the corner position. He really should’ve had an interception, but I was most happy to see him play with great technique where he didn’t interfere and boxed out the wide receiver legally while turning for the ball. He trusted his technique with the ball in the air. Terrell has been everything we thought he would be and more with 206 valuable snaps on the season.

Nyles Pinckney showed why he is the next great DT as Clemson in this game. He holds up against the run at the nose or 3-tech and has the quickness to knife in and generate TFLs.

Justin Foster is still a big work in progress. He missed an assignment early on a big gain, but he made some other good plays where he was faster than Register to set the edge and tackle defenders. I was encouraged by what I saw. Logan Rudolph is going to step into the two-deep next season (depending on who leaves), but Foster should provide quality depth.

We got to see our first extended look of Shaq Smith, Xavier Kelly, and Denzel Johnson. I was pleased with Smith. He still needs to work on his recognition (he played faster as he got more snaps) and he is still a bit stiff in his hips, but you can see his size and potential. He can be a great LB if he sticks with it as Clemson.

I’m starting to get worried about Kelly just a little bit. He should have dominated in a game like this and been able to set the edge with more authority. This will be a big offseason for Kelly because Clemson needs him to step into a supporting role next season. Johnson can step up in run support and showed that again against The Citadel. He struggles with his drops in pass coverage and zone looks, but that wasn’t an issue with The Citadel.

We should handle South Carolina pretty easily barring any turnover trouble. They have improved defensively with Skai Moore and TJ Brunson at LB. The defensive line is passable and the offensive line isn’t the disaster it was when Zach Bailey had an ankle sprain. They will play bend, don’t break on defense so Clemson will need to run the ball effectively and loosen things up by hitting passes over the top. On defense they need to get pressure and disrupt Bentley while shutting down the run game. Get Bentley in obvious passing downs and things can get ugly. Hurst is a quality TE and their wide receivers are improving because Clemson didn’t push for Edwards, OrTre Smith, or Shi Smith enough in the recruiting process (I wanted Edwards and was fine with taking OrTre and converting him into a TE ala Jordan Leggett).

Clemson should roll, but we seem to struggle more than we should in Columbia. #NeverAgain

Full recruiting update coming this evening.