After the week this Clemson team endured, I'm not sure we should've expected anything other than what unfolded on Saturday. That game was an emotional rollercoaster ride, and I hate rollercoasters. This game gave me all of the same feelings I have while riding one. From thinking it's not going to be bad at all, to almost feeling as if my stomach left me, to jubilation once you've realized you survived and that the ride has ended. Or that's how I felt the only time I did actually ride one.
I went in thinking Clemson should win comfortably, but in very short order realized that wasn't going to be the case. At times throughout the second and third quarter, it very much felt like I was witnessing what was supposed to be a very promising season ending in a way I would have never imagined. That maybe this time, there were too many distractions and obstacles to overcome. I mean, how many teams actually survive losing their top two quarterbacks?
Then it happened. We all watched as a young, inexperienced, redshirt freshman came off the bench and grew up on the field right in front of our very eyes. I think it's only fitting that's where we begin.
What a performance. After being forced into action when Trevor Lawrence went down with an injury, this kid delivered, and in a big way. It wasn’t the greatest of starts for the former 3rd string QB, but it was a pretty good ending. Brice struggled with his accuracy on his first few throws but eventually settled in and in the end, led a 13 play 94 yard scoring drive to give Clemson the win. A drive that included a beautiful throw to Tee Higgins for a 20 yard gain on a 4th & 6 with the game, and possibly the season on the line. The very next play, Brice had a 17 yard run where he executed a zone read to perfection. It was a game most Tiger fans won’t forget anytime soon, and a performance that will have Brice being remembered forever, no matter how his career unfolds..... Paws Up
The Running Game
A popular topic of discussion for fans of late has been what could Travis Etienne do with more carries. Well, debate over. The staff decided to lean on the running game without Lawrence, and Etienne finished the day with 27 carries and 203 yards. He also scored all 3 Tiger TDs. Syracuse knew Clemson was going to run the ball and still could not stop it. Could we start hearing Travis’s name being mentioned in the Heisman talk? Oh, and lets not forget Tavien Feaster and Adam Choice, who both had solid days themselves, combining for 18 carries and 102 yards. Feaster seems to be running with a purpose of late and this was by far Choice’s best game of the season so far..... Paws Up
This group took this game over in the second half, and like Dabo would say after the game, really imposed their will as the game wore on. Syracuse knew Clemson was going to run the ball and stacked the box, yet this group still opened up huge running lanes for the backs, The later the game got, the better this group looked. After having their manhood challenged by the staff following the Georgia Southern game, this group has really responded..... Paws Up
What can you say about the defenses performance in that second half? It was dominant. Dexter Lawrence and Christian Wilkins were like wrecking balls the way they were disrupting plays. The LBs were all over the field in that second half, making play after play, despite playing a large majority of the snaps. And how about Xavier Thomas and the way he finished Eric Dungey and the Orange off..... Paws Up
I would be remiss to not mention this guy and how he catches everything thrown his way. I am still not sure how he came up with that catch from Brice, but he did. That seemed to be the point in which Brice started to settle in. Without Hunter finding a way to snag that ball, maybe things turn out a little different..... Paws Up
It was easy to see what kind of heart this team has in this one. After the kind of week this program endured, there were times in that game where it would have been easy for guys to just kind of check out. They did not. Instead they came out of the locker room after halftime and responded in a big way. Personally, I don’t think there are too many teams across the nation that would have pulled that off, and I think that is a testament to this staff and to the type of kids they are committed to bringing into the program. They all get a big..... Paws Up
Amari Rogers had a tough day fielding punts in this game, and finally ended up muffing one that Syracuse would recover at the Clemson 10. Four plays later Dungey would run it in from a yard out to put the Orange up 10 late a couple minutes into the 4th. Hard to speculate on what was causing Rogers to have such a tough time, but that has to be fixed. He had actually looked very good and very comfortable back there before yesterday. Throw in a missed FG and..... Paws Down
Is it just me or do the ACC refs seem to be even worse this year? I wasn’t even sure that was possible. Yesterday looked like more of the same. Not a single holding call for our DL guys that I recall. Again. Not to mention, on the play where Etienne lost his helmet it surely looked to me like a Syracuse player took a cheap shot. That is how it looked from the stands and on the stadium replay anyways. No pass interference on Rodgers having a hand held behind his back in the end zone? Officiating in general seems to get a little worse every season, but to me it seems like the ACC refs are a step ahead of everyone else..... Paws Down
And in other games.....
Were we not told this team was supposed to be pretty good? How do you let Dan Mullen and his, not very good Gators come into Starkville and get that W..... Paws Down
What kind of play calling is that on the 4th down play last night? I still can not believe that. Maybe on 4th and short but on 4th & 5? Wow.....Paws Down
Our friends from Columbia actually pulled it off. They have now lost 5 straight to Kentucky. A basketball school. The first of multiple 5 bombs they are going to be on the wrong end of this season. Any team that loses 5 straight to Kentucky should have their program suspended for no less than a year..... Paws Down
And lastly but certainly not least, I wanna give a special Paws Up to Tennessee St LB Christion Abercrombie. He was injured in their game against Vanderbilt, carted off and taken to a local hospital where he went emergency surgery. It was reported he was unresponsive at some point. Prayers and well wishes to that young man, his family, and the entire team at Tennessee State.
That’s all I have for this week. Keep checking back with STS for more from the win over Syracuse and add anything you want to give the Paws Up or Paws Down to in the comments.