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Clemson vs SC: Position Grades (Offense)

Something needs to change

NCAA Football: South Carolina at Clemson Anderson Independent Mail-USA TODAY Sports

No introduction is needed for this article except to say that Clemson lost to SC for the 1st time in nine years breaking not only the 7 game win streak against them but also the 40 straight home win ACC record as well. There is plenty of blame to go around so let’s get to it.


DJ was bad this game. Finishing 8 for 29 for only 99 yards passing is completely unacceptable. It wasn’t all his fault and there is plenty of blame that falls at the feet of the OL, WRs and coaching staff. However, he has regressed from earlier in the year and doesn’t appear mentally strong enough to overcome adversity in the way that we are used to from Watson, Lawrence and even Kelly Bryant. DJ is more akin to Tajh Boyd, a good player that can be great but in high stress games has a tendency to struggle. However, him having these struggles as a JR is unacceptable for the leader of the team. Fair or not he will go down as the starting QB that allowed an inferior SC team to walk into DV and not only break our streak against them but break our 40 straight home record.

That Cade wasn’t put in shows how unprepared the freshman is at this point which while not unexpected is still disappointing.

Grade: F


The OL struggled with pass protection this game. Perhaps it’s due to Tate being out but SC seemed to comfortably get more pressure then we are used to seeing this year. The OL had been very consistent in their ability to keep DJ clean but that did not appear this past Saturday. SC only recorded 1 sack but the pressure was enough to keep DJ off his game. Run blocking however produced over 200 yards on the ground, 233 to be exact. The problem is that we didn’t run it enough and we allowed SC to control the game in the 2nd half. It was a very disappointing performance by the OL this week, despite the holes they opened in the 1st half.

Grade: D


Will Shipley had a monster game. He had 132 yards and a TD on an almost 9 yards per carry average! Phil Mafah had 42 yards on a 6 yard per carry average. The only problem with these stats? They only had 22 carries between them! It is inexcusable that we didn’t give Shipley at least 20 touches (he had 15) and Mafah at least 10 (he had 7)!

With the WR group and DJ not being able to be relied upon it’s utter insanity that we didn’t do what we did against Syracuse and run the ball with the RBs. Forget the Zone Read, forget whatever the defense is showing you, play big boy football and run it down their throats. When you have two RBs averaging over 5 yards a clip, what more could you possibly ask for?

Shipley came out and apologized to the fans, and former players. No Mr. Shipley it’s the coaching staff that needs to apologize to you and Phil Mafah.

Grade: B+


It’s hard to grade the TEs as they weren’t utilized during the game, for some reason. They along with the RBs have been the most consistent group on offense and Allen/Briningstool are better receivers than most of our WRs. That they weren’t used more this game is a failure by the coaching staff.

Grade: B


It feels like beating a dead horse at this point but the WR group outside of Collins, Williams and potentially Randall is flat out terrible. They can’t get open, can’t make contested catches, drop passes that hit them in the hands, and don’t look to be worth the scholarships they are using. Ngata was a recruiting bust. EJ Williams as regressed horribly since his freshman year. Spector is non existent as a player. Outside of Collins and Williams, only Ngata posted a catch last Saturday for a whopping 7 yards! Clemson is one of only a few times in FBS that has yet to have a WR post 100 receiving yards in a game. There is nothing that can be done except get the older players out of the program and bring in more talented players through recruiting and the portal.

The ultimate sign of disrespect for a WR group is for an opposing team to run cover 0 because they are that unafraid of your ability to beat one on one matchups. SC played this last Saturday to great affect and that is a damning indictment for this position group.

Grade: F


This lose is on the coaching staff. If you’d told Clemson fans that the team would rush for 233 yards with Shipley and Mafah both averaging over 6 yards a carry you’d think we ran SC off the field much like we did last year. That was not the case due to defensive busts, multiple fumbles by the special teams and the offense going completely inert in the 2nd half. Their refusal to rely on the strengths of the team, running the ball and using the TEs, it’s maddening. Their comments after the game that they should have run Shipley more in the 2nd half shows a failure of recognizing during the game what is working and sticking with it. As stated previously, forget what the defense is showing you, run the ball!

This loss should not have happened and it’s entirely on the staff. I understand that we have a new OC and position coaches have been shuffled but you don’t have to be a genius to know you run the ball when you’re so successful at it! This has been a recurring issue since Chad Morris was the OC so at some point the finger has to be pointed at the HC to find the right coaches who are willing to play to the team’s strengths and actually act like Clemson is a dominate team. Dominate teams don’t allow opposing defenses to dictate what plays they should run. Dominate teams step on the field, play to their strengths, and dare the opposing defense to stop them.

Grade: F


What grade do you give the Clemson Offense against SC?

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