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QT’s Take: Clemson Suffocates Owls

End the WooHoo...

NCAA Football: Florida Atlantic at Clemson Gannett-USA TODAY NETWORK

I think it was nice of the Clemson students to greet the Owls team with an Owl sounding Woo Hoo. It should be the last we hear it again this season and forever in perpetuity. End the Woo Hoo.

FAU’s QB wasn’t ready. Clemson’s defense jumped all over him and caused a bunch of turnovers that led to easy points and opportunities for the offense. Klubnik completed some nice passes and ran a bit better but the offense overall was still average against an average to below average FAU defense. This was a much better performance than the Duke and Charleston Southern games but not sure we learned that much more about the team. It is a team with the potential and talent to beat FSU but is still wildly inconsistent.

Once Denhoff laid the wood on Thompson and knocked him out of the game on a late hit, it was over. The replacement QB didn’t have the talent to hang with Clemson.


Hello Khalil Barnes. Filling in for Mukuba, Barnes makes a strong case for more playing time. The interception is all about the play of DeMonte Capehart who gobbles up his lineman and hits the arm of the QB but Barnes still makes a good play. FAU receivers were fast and he got burned a few times but he also was around the ball and played quality, physical coverage.

Hello Tyler Brown. Beautiful catch in the back of the endzone on a good ball from Cade (the refs didn’t call a clear holding penalty on Mayes...yikes). He did have a fair catch call where he had about 20 yards of green grass but we’ll let that slide. And we will forget about the muffed punt since he had a good return on the next punt return and another contested catch TD.

Glad to see Briningstool come down with a contested catch in the endzone for a score. He needs to be a security blanket for Cade and a jump ball problem in the redzone.

I said last week that TJ Parker is a starter. Yep. I’m going to start yelling it. Too good not to have on the field at this point. He is relentless and gives you a disruptive pass rush that gets home. There is a play at the 11:38 mark of the 3rd Q where Parker is double teamed by the RT and TE and he splits them and disrupts the RB. Just perfect technique.

Glad they let Walker Parks sit and have a week to heal. Mayes was a mixed bag and the offensive line is still struggling with passing off stunts and some blitzes on the interior. FSU will provide a challenge to the Tackles but I thought Sadler has shown he needs to start. Leigh should play but you roll with Sadler.

Avieon Terrell made some nice plays. Batted down a ball on a blitz and plays bigger and tougher than his frame (hope he can stay healthy). It is unfortunate that Barnes and Terrell play Nickel where Mukuba did a good job against Duke and Woodaz plays when they go with a SAM. I would much rather have them replace a Safety. Jamal Anderson is also such an intriguing player. Needs time to develop his body but should be a quality player—he made some good hits and tackles with the backups.


The low trajectory of these kicks is just shocking. Gunn looks like an average high school kicker right now. Spending too much time practicing 60 yard kicks with low angles and not enough time kicking chip shots. I will say it was great to see the field goal and extra point kick protection finally change (and if anyone is reading this on the team—check out what the Patriots did to block the Miami kick, giving the outside outside rusher/kick blocker a running start along the line of scrimmage, lots of teams will replicate).

Cole Turner is injured. Not great when it was obvious that we needed to bring in a transfer WR from the portal. Tiny WRs that are injury prone. Going to need to burn the Tink Kelley redshirt because the numbers aren’t there. Luckily Antonio Williams was able to come back in the game and Stellato is still giving you decent reps but depth will be an issue all season.

Safety play is still not good. First drive of the game—XT sets too wide an edge, Davis can’t get over, LB can’t get over, and Philips comes down the lane and acts like he is running and jumping on a slip ‘n slide as he shoots past the RB. Not great football. Glad to see Covil and Griffon get more run.

Coming out of the half and a good bit of the second half, Cade didn’t play great. I think you will see FSU try to pressure him more because he was back to throwing off the back foot and making some shaky decisions with the football. Good field position and almost threw a pick six. He double clutched before throwing to Brinny—not trusting himself. He was 1-8 for two yards before Tyler Brown bailed him out with a good contested catch. That kind of effort will get you blown out against FSU.


Setting the edge is still troublesome for the defense at times. I need to see more from the starting Dline. XT hasn’t been able to hold up against the run. Mascoll had one of his better days but can’t get much pass rush. Ruke and Davis have been underwhelming. FSU is going to attack our run fits and force us to set the edge.

Mafah was able to get to the endzone on a quality run. Shipley and CJ had a small tiff that was just Shipley being too amped—but Spiller was right. Shipley is a great, hard runner who breaks tackles—don’t get me wrong—but he and Mafah seem to get tripped up too much in the redzone and sometimes Shipley doesn’t read his blocks. NOW—I can’t blame him because his Oline has been very average much of his career but on this specific case, if Shipley stays inside and cuts up, he walks into the endzone. Not really bad but something that can be improved. Shipley could’ve likely scored on another play at the 30 yard line where yet another shoestring tackle gets him. That can’t happen against FSU. Mafah on one pass pro set backed right into Cade. Unfortunately, I need to see Thomas convert on 3rd and 4th and short to trust him as a legit third RB who you can use in real situations. I really like Haynes though. I’ll say it again that I think you burn his redshirt and use him. Mixed bag for RBs overall.

I also don’t want to see Shipley yelling and bumping very slightly with coaches. I don’t think it was anything, but you need your leaders to have some composure. Shipley has always been a fiery personality but we need leadership too in those moments.

Two tune-ups are done. Time to stand up to the FSU challenge. You gotta cover the FSU WRs, keep Travis contained, and shut down the run. On offense you can’t turn the ball over and you need to beat them with tempo and a solid running game. Make no mistake—this is a new season if you beat a top 5 ranked FSU.