Week eight of the 2022 College Football season is behind us and our Clemson Tiger have made it through without a loss. Clemson is one of the only remaining undefeated teams in the country and is currently the only one with wins over three teams ranked in the top 25. The offense moved the ball early and often against Syracuse but continued to shoot themselves in the foot in ways we haven’t seen in a long time, culminating in us having to bench the starting QB. Despite this adversity, the team never gave up and scored 17 unanswered points in the 4th quarter to win the game, extend the home winning streak to 38 (the best in ACC history), and enter the open date unscathed.
Let’s see how each position graded out.
This was the worst performance from DJ we’ve seen since his struggles last year. He started the game fine with the typical passes and runs that we had come to expect and put a TD on the board. After the fumble scoop-and-score, DJ just didn’t look comfortable and began to miss throws he normally makes. It was the right decision to pull him and he has seemingly responded to it well. He was cheering the team on the sideline, seemed genuinely happy for Cade and spoke with maturity and poise when reporters came at him after the game. DJ is still the better overall QB. He is the leader of this team and is still our best option. He has the open date to get back into form and return to prove that this was a fluke game.
Cade Klubnik was put in a tough position. He had to come in down 2 scores against a top 15 team when he hadn’t recorded an in game snaps for a few games. He was 2-4 for 19 yards and ran for another 15. He wasn’t asked to do too much and was put in more to send a message to DJ and try to give a jolt of energy to the team. He still abandons the pocket too quickly, and put the ball in jeopardy at times, however, given the circumstances, he played well. He is going to be great and it would be nice to see him get more series with the 1s in the coming games.
This was the OLs best game of the season and it was needed. Pass pro was also excellent and DJ had all day to throw. Had he been on target then there were yards to be found through the air. After DJ was benched and Cade came in, everyone knew that we were going to have to relay on the running game. The OL finally imposed their will on an opponent and pushed around the smaller DL of Syracuse to the tune of 294 yards rushing. Syracuse couldn’t stop the run even knowing it was our only way to get back into the game. Nothing is more demoralizing to a defense than to know the run is coming, doing all they can to stop it, and still getting pushed around. The left side of the OL was particularly great. The combination of Jordan McFadden and Marcus Tate routinely opened holes and pushed the DL around.
Will Shipley has been on a tear the last few games. He once again impacted the game with his running, catching and kick off returns. He is in the top 10 in the country in rushing and total TDs and is averaging 92 yards per game. He is the best RB on the team and that 50 yard TD electrified the crowd and put Clemson back on top. He had his season high in rushing yards with 172 on 27 runs including a 50 yard scamper that gave Clemson a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. The only knock against him was the uncharacteristic fumble when we were once again marching down the field.
Phil Mafah is the perfect Thunder to Shipley’s Lightning. He had 94 yards on 18 runs. He is a hammer and can always fall forward for at least 2 or 3 yards. He’s also worked on his pass catching and caught another pass for 10 yards this game giving him over 100 total yards. There are times that Mafah looks better than Shipley if only due to the power and decisiveness he shows when he picks a lane, and opponent, to run through.
The staff put the game in the hands of the OL and RBs and they came through with flying colors.
Davis Allen had 3 catches for 50 yards, tying Ngata with leading the team on both catches and yards. He opened the game with a huge catch down the field on a drive that resulted in a TD. After DJ left the game the catches went away but Davis made an impact in the running game. He was pushing opposing players around and was a difference maker. Davis Allen is the best TE we’ve had since Dwyane Allen. His run blocking is much better than Leggett’s was and his impact in the passing game is similar. We didn’t get anything from Briningstool in the passing game but he had no obvious busts when called to block.
This is a difficult game to grade the WRs once DJ went to the bench. The game plan completely changed to only attack on the ground and pass as little as necessary. While DJ was in the game both Ngata and A. Williams caught 3 passes for a total of 80 yards. They were the only WRs to record a catch but there were times where Williams was open and DJ didn’t see him. There was also a few plays where DJ had all day but no one could get open which is still a struggle for this group. They also run blocked well in the 2nd half and helped the RBs take us to victory.
On the stat sheet, Clemson was offensively dominant. The Tigers had more total yards (450), 1st downs (27), total plays run (85) and dominated the time of possession. Clemson only punted the ball twice all game. The 3 turnovers in the 1st half all occurred when Clemson was on Syracuse’s side of the field in scoring position. It took guts to bench DJ and hand the keys to Cade to run the offense. They tailed the calls to best give him success and went to the OL and RBs to tell them to go out and win the game. We had Cade throw just enough so Syracuse couldn’t completely ignore the threat of the pass but the game was won on the ground and kudos to the staff for both recognizing this and being committed to it.
What grade do you give the Clemson Offense against Syracuse?
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