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QT’s Take, Straight From the (Digital) Armchair: Clemson Tigers Dismantle The Citadel

NCAA Football: Citadel at Clemson
The Greenville News-USA TODAY NETWORK via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Alright. It was The Citadel, and we really can’t take that much away from a game that was over by the second half of the first quarter. Clemson emerged relatively injury free. Clemson looked two sizes bigger than The Citadel across the board, but let’s over-analyze anyway!



Trevor Lawrence was sharp, and that is the most important single piece of information coming from the game. 8/9 with one drop and three TD’s.

  • Deep Ball. Check.
  • Going through progressions, hitting multiple players, using all parts of the field. Check.
  • Accuracy. Check.
  • Hitting the check-down and not forcing the ball. Check.

That was all I needed to see. Let the Heisman campaign commence.

DJ Uiagalelei got in on the fourth series of the game and punched in the TD. He also had his own scoring drive with the first team Offensive line. The second half was definitely a learning experience. Is he ready to be the starter right now? Probably not. But he has the tools to take over next year and beat UGA in the opener. Right now he needs to work on his confidence in reading the D and not being late with throws. The second team Oline did him no favors, but recognizing protections is also the next step for DJU. Can’t complain about two TD’s though.

Taisun Phommachanh had a tougher day. He looks very similar to Kelly Bryant in terms of his ability and some of the flaws in his game. He can definitely run the ball, but his passing mechanics still need work. He doesn’t have a fluid motion or consistency in his release point, which results in some inaccurate balls and kind of a catapult-like delivery. That doesn’t mean that he didn’t put some nice balls in the air, way down the field (Ajou Ajou should’ve had at least one of them). Still, he’s very much a work in progress, and DJ is the better second option.


Franks Ladson showed he has the potential to be a top tier WR. He dropped a TD last week and bobbled the long TD this week, so need to see more consistent hands, but the speed and size is undeniable.

Joe Ngata tweaked an ab, according to Dabo, and didn’t factor into the game. This is fine, but we need to see Ngata make an impact against Virginia.

EJ Williams is super skinny and needs to develop, but showed he can run routes, get open, and pluck the ball out of air. You see the size and the arm length of Ajou Ajou, but he is very, very raw and will need a lot of coaching. He has the talent, but doesn’t know how to use his basketball skills and body control yet.

Cornell Powell surge Luginbills!!! But, for real, he is looking better.

My second concern for the team is still WR depth. Clemson rolls two deep with wide receivers throughout games and with any absences you have Will Brown or Will Swinney on the field a lot. Another part of the problem in the second half was wide receivers not able to get separation. The team missed Brannon Spector.


Right now I would rank the RB’s like this:

  1. ETN
  2. Probably Dixon (depending on the strength of the knee)
  3. Mellusi (like what I see, needs more reps if healthy—don’t want to transfer)
  4. Rencher (has put in the work and looks better in pass pro)
  5. Bowman (feed him, quit slow playing this...)
  6. Pace (can be a bigger back change up)
  7. Dukes (plenty of wiggle but can’t fumble)

No worries about ETN. He needs to finish some runs, but he is fine. Dixon’s knee and leg strength is a question mark, but the week off should help in his recovery. Rencher is dependable, but unfortunately we need to give younger guys the reps to keep them happy and develop them for the post-ETN world. I like Mellusi. A one cut runner who gets north and south. Do no let Bowman feel like he is being underutilized this season. I’m on the fence with Pace. He can fill a role as a big back, but if he can’t push the pile—he seems average to me. Need more info though. Can we move Dukes to the ‘2’ position and get him some jet sweep reps? Shifty and a talent, but the RB room is so loaded.


Allen is coming along. Not much else from the TE position this week.

Offensive Line

This starting line is looking good folks. Carman is a top talent and I like what Putnam is showing. He has been really good pulling so far. On DJ’s TD, Putnam filled that hole really well. Not noticing McFadden, which is great. Cade Stewart has passed both of his tests in my eyes. This is how it should be against The Citadel.

Second team offensive line was rough. Top concern for the season, especially with Covid. Other than Walker Parks and probably Hunter Rayburn, no one is ready right now to step in and start. The most disappointing thing was the number of blown assignments. Part of that is on the QB, but the protection was full of holes.

Blake Vinson had a couple really bad snaps. He played better against Wake at Center so hopefully he can get that corrected. Trotter isn’t ready and the coaches want Rayburn as the interior depth. Tayquon Johnson was a great move to the offensive line, but obviously raw and missed time in camp.

Trying to be positive here—Walker Parks is going to be a starter next season and play at a high level. Love his mentality and he is probably your number 6 offensive lineman right now. Mitchell Mayes is hanging in there, but things are moving fast. Paul Tchio still needs work, but has upside. Need these guys to come along though, especially on the interior.


Wowzers. The first team was great. Same with the second and third. It wasn’t until the fourth string that Clemson had any real dropoff. No need to go position by position since the triple option is so unique—just going to highlight a few standouts.

Encouraged from what I saw from Jordan Williams. The young guys are pushing him and he is playing with better leverage.

I’m trying not to go crazy with my Myles Murphy praise, but he is the most developed true freshman, both physically and mentally, I have seen at Clemson in a very long time. His play in space has been really impressive. Uses his long, sturdy frame to attack with surprising quickness. Keeping his body and shoulders square to the line of scrimmage...a thing of beauty. Bryan Bresee was handling the cut blocks and made some more splash plays.

Demonte Capehart was moving people. Just a massive force in the middle. As advertised—still raw and will need to learn about reading defenses and the mental part of the game, but you can’t teach his size and ability to move.

How about Ray Thornton?? Flying around and making some big, impact hits. Probably wins the biggest hit of the game award for blasting the Citadel player along the sideline after the defense gave up contain.

Trenton Simpson showed his speed and potential. Got to get him on the field more. I like Tyler Venables a lot, and think he can be a do-it-all player who gives you another player in coverage, but Simpson’s athleticism is next level. Mike Jones, Jr. is doing a great job and deserves to play, but Simpson needs to see the field this season.

Kevin Swint has concrete in his helmet. Maguire is making a move, and he and Kane Patterson are battling for that next spot at WILL behind Spector. I hope Spector didn’t have a major concussion (it seemed like it from the footage) and will be back for UVA. Dabo didn’t fill in too many details. He has really impressed me with his ability to cover a lot of ground.

Booth showed his physicality in run support. Fred Davis also flashed the desired physicality for Clemson corners.

Question Marks

Depth at defensive end is still a question. I love the Upshaw story and grit, but he doesn’t have the length. Mascoll still needs work on setting the edge and being explosive. Henry has some amazing plays, but needs to work on consistency. Looking forward to getting Justin Foster and possibly XT back before Miami.

I still have questions about the back end with a truly talented group of receivers and a decent quarterback. UVA and Coach Anae will be a good warm-up for Miami who looked good against a struggling Louisville defense. DK—we need you on the field. Stop making Coach V that upset. It is clear that Clemson really needs DK to be a shutdown corner this season.

Special Teams

Potter was automatic.

Spiers had one of his better days punting as a Tiger. A 53 yard punt! No bad punts. Very good.

Returners had great days. Rodgers looked fast and confident. ETN might have a bit of a learning curve fielding punts, but he was lightning with the ball in his hands. DK seems to be one shoestring tackle away from breaking a long return every time he fields it.