SYRACUSE, N.Y. – Well, this is posting at 10 a.m. Sunday, but it is 7 a.m. in Seattle, Wash. – the site of the next College GameDay. All indications is they’ll have one heck of a drive from Seattle to the southeast for the Oct. 19 edition, when Florida State comes to Clemson.
It’s also 7 a.m. in Pasadena. Not that there’s (ahem) anything significant there later this season in college football. Ahem.
This day-after edition of 7 at 7 is decidedly offense-heavy. Check out the notebook on PostandCourier.com for some defensive stuff, because Brent Venables has his unit absolutely firing on all cylinders.
1) As the team thought he would, C.J. Spiller was on the field before and during the Tigers’ trek to Syracuse. Spiller is a fourth-year back for the Buffalo Bills, and the 2009 All-American made the Pro Bowl last season with 1,244 yards.
Spiller mainly hung by the running backs in pregame warmups, and briefly stopped by the end zone to take a picture with some young Clemson fans. He also chatted at length with Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney and ACC commissioner John Swofford at midfield.
Little twist of irony: while Spiller was pleased with the outcome, his new coach wasn’t. The Bills, who lost Thursday night at Cleveland, are led by former Syracuse head man Doug Marrone.
2) The Tigers wore black stickers on the back of their helmets with “B Mc”, to honor the late Bill McLellan after passing away Monday at age 81. McLellan was the Tigers’ athletic director for 14 years, overseeing the athletic department during Clemson’s 1981 national championship.
3) It was the night of Chad Kelly’s career. The native of nearby Niagara Falls, N.Y., and nephew of Bills Hall of Famer Jim Kelly, Clemson’s third-string quarterback led the final drive with a 6-yard pass and two runs for 28 yards, setting up C.J. Davidson’s 2-yard touchdown.
That was by far the Tigers’ most profilic drive in the running game: nine carries, 61 yards. The rest of the game, Clemson picked up 97 yards on 36 carries.
“It was good to see that last drive with Chad Kelly, getting to run the football down the field and score,” Swinney said. “That was a good finish to the game.”
4) Saturday was an important four-year anniversary for receiver Daniel Rodriguez, who caught that 6-yard pass from Kelly on Oct. 5, 2013.
Clemson sports information director Tim Bourret strikes again with this nugget: on Oct. 5, 2009, Rodriguez was in a hospital in Afghanistan recovering from significant wounds suffered in the Battle of Kamdesh.
Rodriguez, a walk-on receiver for the Tigers, received a Purple Heart for his actions in battle.
5) Freshman wide receiver Mike Williams seemed to get the lion’s share of playing time, but Martavis Bryant made the biggest play with a 40-yard touchdown grab getting behind the Syracuse secondary.
Offensive coordinator Chad Morris has labeled that a battle for the starting spot. Bryant was reasonably nonchalant afterwards when asked for his thoughts.
“I ain’t really focused about playing time,” Bryant said. “I’m just doing what I can do to help my team. I’m not too worried about that.”
6) Quarterback Tajh Boyd entered Saturday having gone 28-for-his-last-33 on rushing attempts on 3rd or 4th down and less than four yards to go for the conversion.
He was 0-for-2 in the category against the Orange.
In the first quarter, Boyd lined up with an empty backfield, and was stopped on 3rd-and-1 by defensive end Micah Robinson.
Then in the third quarter, Boyd was hammered by middle linebacker Marquis Spruill for a 6-yard sack on 3rd-and-2.
Throw in the 4th-and-goal try from the 5, when Boyd had nowhere to go, and he had an uncharacteristically poor night in short yardage.
7) And finally, after Adam Humphries caught and ran for a 60-yard score on the first drive, Clemson went for some trickeration right from the start.
Bradley Pinion threw in a surprise bloop onside kick, and Syracuse wasn’t quite ready for it. However, the ball bounded to the sidelines before Humphries, the gunner, could corral it and give the Tigers immediate possession.
Why couldn’t Humphries get there in time? He lost the ball in the lights, according to Swinney. So the Carrier Dome did have one negative impact on the first-time visitors.