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What Clemson Learned This Week in College Station, TX

Clemson v Texas A&M Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

1. Aggieland is spectacular. The campus doesn’t impress like Chapel Hill or Charlottesville (let alone Clemson), but rather it was the people who made their mark. We were invited to an Aggie tailgate in advance of our trip. We asked if we could send some money for food and drink and were told “Absolutely not. Welcome to Aggieland.” Then we had trouble finding the tent and nice couple from Houston invited us in, and let us use their cooler until we found our planned tailgate. We later walked into the alumni center and were greeted with “howdy.” I honestly thought it was a joke, until a few more folks said “Howdy! Welcome to Aggieland.”

At the game, the coordinated yells (don’t call them chants, they didn’t seem to care for that), were beyond impressive. It was like a European Soccer match with Southern Charm and Texas Toughness.

2. The Two QB System Works. When asked in the postgame presser if he could see himself continuing to play two QBs the rest of the season, here’s what Coach Swinney said:

“As long as they play well… We want to continue to get Trevor in the game. He’s a special player, but we love what we see from Kelly. I think both of those guys can help our football team. If something really changes and separates where we have way more confidence in one guy, then you could see an adjustment somewhere down the road, but honestly I hope they will both play well with their opportunity. And if they do that I don’t see a situation where they can’t continue to play as we go.”

As we saw in the Furman game, Kelly Bryant came out rusty. On the Tigers first possession he threw a poor pass on a screen play and got sacked on third down in what was a quick three-and-out. He settled in though and was later completely locked in on a 2nd half drive where the Tigers had to respond and did. His TD pass to Diondre Overton was particularly impressive.

Meanwhile Trevor Lawrence got off to a hot start as he came in and on his very first snap tossed a beautiful ball that allowed Tee Higgins to showcase his jump ball ability. It became this jaw-dropping score:

The 2 QB system is adding intrigue and interest to every game and it’s working.

3. Clemson just knows how to win. Clemson led most of the way, but Texas A&M stuck around. Although Clemson failed to put the Aggies away, they always responded when they really had to. Late in the game, the pressure was on for Kelly Bryant to really lead the offense down for a score and each time he responded. When A&M scored late off a fortunate tipped pass, was there really any question the defense would rise up and stop the 2-point conversion?

4. Clemson has some issues with the secondary. Kellen Mond racked up 430 passing yards and 3 TDs. Much of this came late in the game. I’m not sure how much can be blamed on the Clemson defense being gassed from quick scores and quick three-and-outs. Busts were plentiful late in the game. It wasn’t just backups. I noticed Tanner Muse get beat on an inside move and Denzel Johnson promptly replace him. This will have to get cleaned up!

5. In Jimbo they trust. As much as I loved the fans, the yells, and their passion, their passion for Jimbo Fisher was a bit distasteful. He’s a great tactician of a coach. This seemed to be proven on Saturday when his old Florida State team struggled to sneak past Samford and Texas A&M was able to hang with Clemson. Nevertheless, I despise the deification of head coaches, and doing it with Jimbo Fisher and all his baggage makes it all the worse.