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QT’s Take, Straight From the Armchair: Clemson Defeats Charlotte

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Charlotte v Clemson
Heeeyyy....
Photo by Mike Comer/Getty Images

Not many substantive takeaways from this game. Good to get guys rest—very wise move to sit Ross. Good to get all the players experience and Brice and Taisun extended time. No injuries from the game. A few minor things to continue to work on.

I actually wanted to see more reps for the second and third stringers before jumping to the walk-ons, especially at receiver. Unfortunately, the defensive backups didn’t get as much time as the offensive players (but that happens when you control a game!).

Special Teams

A 64 YARD PUNT! Use that punt formation more often. We flipped the field! Downed at the one yard line! Got Swanson a lefty punt too! Potter was again solid. Went with Rodgers on punt return, which is fine (but I prefer DK). Will Swinney dropped a punt and set up a score (the first change of possession the opposing offense has scored on the D). Having Swinney return punts is fun, but between this muff and his disastrous fake FG last year, I’m happy to give other really talented returners more chances on the roster. DK, Booth, and many others.

Simmons kick coverage on the first kickoff was magic. He just changed his direction in midair. Unfair (that was also practice for trying to pin a team deep with so many starters playing). Brian Dawkins Jr. played on special teams!

Defense

The one thing to question was the run defense. I said coming into the year it was something to watch. Charlotte showed that some of those run gaps weren’t being filled. But I agreed with Swinney in the lead up to the game—Charlotte has a legit rushing attack. Lemay is a very talented back and I was impressed with the fight of the offensive line. Moving forward UNC has talented running backs, Wake has their weird slow motion RPO game, BC will try to run, and Louie has some talented backs. I don’t think anyone can consistently run on this defense, but something to watch. UNC has two RBs in #25 and #8 who can be explosive.

KJ Henry is a pass rush, long armed potential nightmare, but still getting pushed around in the run game from time to time. Chad Smith is missing a gap here and there. Some interior lineman are getting pushed off the ball. Nothing to worry about right now, but still something to monitor.

I thought the personal foul on DK was rubbish. He slapped the WR’s hands away. The late hit by Spector was much worse. But DK has always flirted with personal fouls and now that he is on defense he isn’t given the benefit of the doubt the way an offensive player would. Good learning experience, get it out of the system, and hopefully it doesn’t cost us in a tight game (in the season preview we predicted a couple of these). I love DK’s tenacity and not taking anything from anyone mentality. It is a needed skill at CB.

Wallace redeemed himself with the Pick 6 after dropping an interception that was placed right in his bread basket (PS Tanner Muse had a block in the back on the return). Wallace also had a batted ball (lots of batted balls, which was nice to see against the RPO offense). Not Nolan Turner’s best day. I actually think he might play better in the DIME package, which is something to watch (again, it is Charlotte). Darnell Jefferies has taken hold of the fourth DT spot over Xavier Kelly. Venables seems to be playing faster and faster with each game (likely a result of returning to game shape fully after a camp injury).

Like I said above, wanted to see more plays for the defensive backups. Phillips and Thornton only got three snaps a piece, for example. Zanders got 8 snaps and had a great sack with the hair flowing. Zanders is showing he will have a say in who replaces the Safeties next year. Booth needs to play more. Jones continues to look solid in relief. Also a reminder that a freshman who isn’t redshirting should be playing over 100 snaps (or else you should redshirt them).

Ruke got on the field and was moving around pretty good. ET got three snaps. Tayquon Johnson got a snap and you can see why we labeled him a project coming into the season. Patterson got three snaps and Maguire two. Greg Williams had two. That is the group I really want to see used in a game like this a bit more. They only get 4 games—make sure they count.

OFFENSE

Did you see the Cornell Powell Touchdown!?! Arrow route!

ETN got away with a fumble on the first play of the game. Maybe the ref was trying to blow the whistle or meant to blow it, but you can’t hear it on the replay until the ball is clearly out. I’ll take it. TL then throws the prettiest ugly ball to Tee who beats a double down the field. TL kind of double clutches the pass and then throws flat footed. But it landed perfectly!

Dixon had a nice day and decided to jump over the pile for the TD despite a wide open hole. As long as you don’t injure yourself or fumble—I’m good with the acrobatics.

Charlotte’s DE Highsmith gave Carman more trouble than any other DE this season. Highsmith is a future NFL player, however. I don’t see any other DE’s on the schedule that should pose a big problem for Carman, especially after stopping Cuse’s defenders, but this was a good gauge for his progression. Still some technique to clean up with sustaining pass pro, but he is so strong that bigger DE’s have real problems getting around him.

Hello Joe Ngata. Moar please.

Pickup basketball QB analogies: Chase is the old man on bball court. He runs like that guy—more athletic than you think and just when you aren’t expecting it, hits that three pointer in the corner to Ngata for the TD. He is limited in what he does and needs to play to his strengths but he is savvy and executes. He loves to do the move where you bite on the fake hook and then he lays it in.

Taisun is the plucky new guy on the court. Young and so talented, but sometimes shoots it over the backboard when he could easily score a layup. Despite accuracy issues at times, you can just see the athleticism and potential. In the open court, he is just embarrassing lesser players.

I thought the Dukes TD run was impressive and his ability to cut on a dime is translating.

BRIEF UNC THOUGHTS

The UNC coordinators are some of the best in the business. Great hires. They just don’t have the pieces yet to really press a more talented team. They have talent, but no depth and a few injuries have really hurt them, especially on the offensive line and the secondary. That is where Clemson will hurt them.

UNC lives and dies with the play of Sam Howell. He is a really good player and the QB Clemson had at the top of the board last year. So glad he didn’t go to FSU. UNC will try to simplify things and they like to try to run the ball early. They have two good RB’s and only open things up later in games. When they do Howell has been pretty good overall, helping them win two games and almost all four. I think this thing is wrapped up by the third quarter, but Dabo will be very respectful of Mack. I still remember those loses to UNC in the 90’s and would love to rub it in their faces stuffed with wine and cheese. Whoops...

The schedule sets up nicely with a bye week after the road game. Lots of time to prepare for FSU.