Game three is in the books after the first night game in Death Valley this year. Let’s take a look at how the offense performed as we get into the true meat of our schedule.
DJ continues to show his growth and progression from the lackluster performances of last year. Seeing him come in cold during the 4th quarter and march down the field and then throw a dime TD to Antonio Williams was great to see. His footwork and mechanics have improved as has his feel for the pocket. His running ability is dramatically better than last season and his style looks similar to Tajh Boyd — not a burner but a powerful and deliberate runner that teams will have to account for.
His passing has improved as well. There were a number of beautiful throws with perfect touch and placement that should excite us as we roll into Wake Forest. He wasn’t perfect of course and there were still a few throws he’d like back. The back solder throw especially is one that he and the WRs are still not on the same page on. He is the leader of the offense and has shown marked improvement from game to game. That’s all that can be asked or expected of him.
It was good to see Cade get a few more series under his belt this game. His talent and especially his speed are apparent. The one thing that stands out is that he’s still working on his decision making. He bailed too early in the pocket when stepping up would be a better option. He misread a few zone reads that should have been given to the RB. It would have been nice to see him with the 1s rather than the 2s and 3s but he’s still learning and the more snaps we can give him the better he’ll be.
The OL’s pass blocking has been pretty solid. The question was would the run blocking show improvement before the better teams appeared on our schedule. They have shown incremental improvement, especially in the 2nd half of games and this game saw Clemson rush for more than 250 yards of offense. There was a sputter in the 2nd quarter that was strange all around with LA Tech getting the ball twice in our territory and draining the clock. The coaching also affects the run blocking as we’ve shown an unwillingness to commit to establishing the run early in the game. However, this was their best performance of the year and they have shown improvement. We will see how much next week on the road against Wake.
Shipley is the best RB on the team and is the first Clemson player to have two rushing TDs in the first three games of a season. He is quick, strong and decisive and he’s doing it with less than fifteen rushing attempts a game. We have three talent running backs but as we head to Wake and then NC ST, Shipley needs a majority of the snaps at this position. Mafah continues to run hard and take the 2nd team snaps. He’s a hard man to bring down and is the thunder to Shipley’s lighting. Pace still doesn’t look to have rounded into form this year but he isn’t a liability when on the field.
It was nice to see Keith Adams Jr and Domonique Thomas get a few snaps at the end of the game. Both ran hard and looks bigger then expected. They shouldn’t see major snaps unless something goes very wrong but it’s good to see we have at least five bodies to plug at RB.
The TEs run blocked well this week and protected DJ when called upon to do so. It is frustrating that we didn’t utilize the TEs much this week in the passing game this week but I feel that was by design. We didn’t attack the middle of the field at all in fact and that may have been due to both the opponent and wanting to work on outside and deep throws. I’ll reserve judgement until we see how they are used in ACC play because it would criminal to not take advantage of the best tandem of TEs we’ve had since Dwayne Allen and Brandon Ford.
Antonio Williams is Clemson’s best WR and he’s only a true freshman. He made two big contested catches that likes of which we haven’t seen in ages and Higgins left us a few years back. He’s the quickest of our WRs and maybe the toughest as well. He should start against Wake Forest. B. Collins needs to work on his back shoulder throw timing with DJ but he leads the team in receiving TDs and is right there with Williams as the next most reliable WR we have. Adam Randall looked fine in his limited snaps and the Dabo said he won’t be limited moving forward. He had a good 3rd down catch and what should have been PI in the end zone. If he can stretch the field consistently then that alone will be a huge boon to the position.
Ngata is flat out frustrating. He had the most catches of all WRs at 3 and set the tone of the game with an amazing catch in the 1st quarter. However he once again disappeared at times and dropped a pass that hit him in the hands. He’s inconsistent and that is disappointing as he is the eldest and supposed leader of the WR group.
EJ Williams is right behind him in that regard. He missed some passes and didn’t record a single catch. He may see decreased playing time soon.
The offense looked competent and in control for most of this game. We crossed 500 total yards of offense this week. It would be nice to see more commitment to the running game and utilizing the middle of the field more but for now that can be chalked up to the level of completion we’ve faced and not needing to do so. Hopefully, this is the case and we will see offense opened up fully in the next few weeks. This was the most complete the offense has looked this year and we need to continue to see improvement as we face Wake next week.
What grade do you give the Clemson Defense & ST against La Tech?
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