I have seen a bunch of hot takes about DJ and why he has improved. He is thinner, more agile, understanding the offense/doing his homework, working on throwing off a better base/footwork. All of these are true—but I am convinced the difference is keeping DJ clean in the pocket. When he has time, he can go through his progressions (which he is still slow at going through, so he needs the time), keep his feet, stay balanced in the pocket, and deliver a more accurate ball. This is the key. In his freshmen games, he hangs in the pocket and delivers. Against Wake and NC State, teams that didn’t generate much pass rush, DJ excelled. But he struggled more against worse teams in GT and BC, who generated more pressure. Against BC he still threw some beautiful balls but also had a few to the flats, especially to his right side, that sailed a bit. Everything correctable, but DJ is at his best when he has confidence in his protection.
The final score is 31-3, but this is a much closer game if BC can execute in the redzone and put some points on the board. Clemson only had gained 103 yards of offense up until the 3:45 mark in the 2nd Q. That is not complimentary football and put a huge strain on the D in the first half. The second half was a different story—dominant performance. I’m sorry Jeff Hafley, Clemson needs players to get game reps and work out kinks. Clemson also needs style points to elevate itself with the committee and potentially DJ for a Heisman season (Ohio State certainly runs it up when they can). No problems with that at all Dabo (please run it up on FSU if you can!!).
My hats off to Mike Norvell (notwithstanding the COVID cancellation, which still sits like a sliver you can’t get out with tweezers), this FSU team, with its collection of transfers, can play. They have really good WRs, an improved Dline, and DE Verse and LB DeLoach to give you enough on defense. FSU will be a challenge on the road.
- My breakout player on defense, Jeremiah Trotter Jr., keeps showing up. Almost had an interception, forced the 4th Q fumble on a vicious hit, and made a big play on the 4th and 2 stop midway through the 2nd Q.
- XT!!!! So good to see him back and making plays. He definitely isn’t close to 100% but he will make the team and pass rush better. I am really happy with what KJ Henry is doing in his last season, he is becoming a force. XT can give a speed rusher that the defense hasn’t had for the past two seasons. XT said today that he has a Jones fracture. Those can heal in 6 weeks but can take 3-6 months to not have any pain. The chance of refracturing is also high if you push it too early so I am glad he decided to wait this long to play.
- On a high snap—Drew Swinney got it down. He is a good holder. Credit where credit is due.
- Happy to see Tre Williams have some success. He has continued to persevere through his multitude of injuries.
- ET with the blocked kick!! If BC had a better kicking game it would’ve been 17-12 Clemson in the 3rd Q.
- Simpson’s tackle of Jurkovec on the 3rd and 7 where he mirrors him and makes the open field tackle was like standing under a cold waterfall rushing over your head and neck. For so many years, our LBs got beat and gave up first downs on those exact plays. Thank you, Trenton. Thank you.
- Wiggins made some plays and has recovered from the disastrous Wake game. He should’ve had an interception, however, and needs to convert a few of those plays to justify the swagger. But I will take this version of Wiggins (which is who we thought we were getting to start the season) all day.
- Both Agent Zero’s had good games. Antonio Williams just makes the tough plays. Throwing to him over the middle—he is going to take a hit, but he makes the catch. He needs a season to develop his body to really break some of these plays in the open field, but you see the explosiveness. His punt return was the most consequential this season. More of that for FSU, please. I also like the toughness from Randall. It is such a contrast to the weak play last year of Ross, EJ, and Ngata.
- On Defense, Agent Zero Carter was excellent in the pass rush. Got to the QB a good bit. Carter is going to be a key player when it comes to bottling up FSU QB Jordan Travis.
- I’m liking the progression on Davis Allen as a blocker. He is not whiffing and sustaining blocks much better than any TE we have had in a long time.
- Capehart has so much raw talent. Really hope he continues to get reps and puts it together at Clemson.
- I loved the rabbit kind of package with XT at DE, and KJ Henry on the inside for a pass rushing look.
- Another good showing for Covil in his limited snaps.
- Someone tell Beaux Collins he doesn’t need to run out of bounds when he is ahead of a defender with a chance to take it to the house or at least gain another ten yards. You can also think about cutting it up the field. Take a page from Antonio Williams, who tries to grind out every single yard. Enough with the soft WR play (and yes, I know he is still banged up but running it out of bounds when you don’t need to is a head-scratcher). Beaux did fight back and make some good contested catches (the 3rd and 7 conversion on a jump ball to start the 3Q is an example of him fighting and high pointing the ball—he has the talent), but got to see those ones in the endzone get caught to elevate the offense.
- No explosive plays in the entire first half?? Yikes.
- BC was the more physical team on the outside against our WRs. I’m not sure I can handle another bad perimeter block (EJ Williams?!? What are we doing—trying to get WRs blown up?).
- I’m not sure I’ve ever seen as talented a player as Myles Murphy not know how to finish plays consistently. BC’s QB wasn’t going to go down from a simple love tap—you need to finish plays (this isn’t to say that Murphy played poorly—far from it, he was disruptive, good backside pursuit, but if he could just finish!!).
- If I am an opposing DC, I am doing nothing but running stunts on the defensive line against our Oline. Our Oline struggles with passing defenders off correctly and communicating. When you see busts in pass pro it is like 70% of the time due to a stunt. The Oline struggled in the first half. Miller got taken to school a couple of times on complete whiffs. Tate had some rough moments as well. Putnum continues to get pushed around too often (he was the weak link against NC State). Too many missed assignments in the run game leading to far too many Shipley stuffed runs. It seems like the offense is one offensive line block away from springing an explosive run. Super frustrating. Too many false starts. Lots of mistakes.
- The interception wasn’t a great read from DJ. He thought he had man to man and it was a zone drop into the flat that he didn’t see. Those things will happen. DJ hasn’t put the ball in jeopardy that much this season—glad he didn’t let it get to him and he rebounded.
- Mukuba didn’t have a great day, but I will say he was in position most of the time. That arm injury is really hampering his ability to play the ball and knock away balls he could normally get to—with each week of getting healthier, he will continue to improve. The secondary needs his presence because he isn’t busting.
- Ahh...the return of the screen game against the Defense. At 12:26 in the 2nd Q, Swint and Mascoll are in with Page and Tre Williams. None of them feel the screen (this is why Tyler Davis is such a valuable player). Mascoll gets pushed down like a rag doll, Carter barely missed the tackle, Trotter overruns the play, and it goes for 14. That can’t happen against FSU. (Less Mascoll/Swint and more XT with each passing week is a welcome sight! Although Swint probably played his best game to date...)
- Jalyn Phillips is so close to being a good player. A step too shallow on a drop that would’ve been a great interception is a first down to Flowers. Almost stays with his man but gives up the first down. Clemson needs him to step up to be a dominant or even decent secondary.
- Do ACC refs have instructions to not call holding when teams play Clemson?? Seriously...(in the ND/BYU game the ACC refs called ONE field of play penalty the entire game...lolol).
- The second and long QB power runs are way too predictable, folks. I like the scripted first drive—moved the ball down the field with ease, but after that it was rough. The second down calls are what need to improve. Too many predictable run formations/run plays that set up too many third and longs.
- This Blake Miller looked like the GT game Miller. Probably has a lot to do with the type of DE he is up against (struggling against more twitchy DE’s, although the BC guy wasn’t anything special). He got burned really badly—like didn’t get a hand on the defender bad—on more than a couple of plays. He played really well against NC State though but needs a good performance against the FSU pass rush (FSU’s DE transfer Verse if healthy is a top 20 pass rusher in the nation easily).
- You can’t have a punt coverage team with like 5 walk-ons and expect to do anything. It got changed during the game thankfully. You can expect that disasters will likely happen at some point.
- Muffed punts are no way to go through life Clemson. And those aren’t even the primary reason for why I would bench Taylor—he doesn’t have the same burst and his vision on punt return is not great (granted it is hard to do much with 5 walk-ons but still...). We all know Antonio Williams is the answer next week against FSU.
- BC had scouted the punt protection and were ready to block some kicks. Swanson needs a little better get off time but the protection needs to be better too.
- Maybe it was the angle of the broadcast but that Potter FG looked good to me.
A tale of two halves. Ugly first half and a pretty clean second half that will win a lot of football games. Good to get on the road and be a little better prepared for a second road game. Players won’t admit it but most of them hate playing on the road at BC because it is too cold. Most Clemson players have never left the South. The temperature wasn’t that bad for an October night game though, so I do think it was partly some road jitters and mostly bad execution. Starting strong against FSU and playing with a lead will be important. Travis is a tough QB who has improved each year but still presses when playing from behind.