CLEMSON – We’re nearing midterms, so did the Tigers make the grade after their 24-14 win over Boston College Saturday afternoon at Memorial Stadium? Professor Brenner hands out his marks.
The yardage was there; 496 on the day, including 280 in the first half, and 23 total first downs, but it took 30 minutes to scratch the scoreboard. That’s what happens when you fumble it away twice in the first half. Even when Tajh Boyd coughed it up twice and recovered both in the first quarter, that set the tempo for a wayward afternoon. There’s just no reason the Eagles should have made life that difficult for Clemson, which was just 4-for-17 on third downs. Sammy Watkins and Adam Humphries came very close to their second straight game with 100-plus receiving yards a piece, which was nice. Roderick McDowell and Zac Brooks were inconsistent, but made a couple tough runs. This offensive line is not playing at a championship level.
“We’re not elite, but that’s what we’re working toward.” On a staff of eternal optimists, defensive coordinator Brent Venables is the slow-your-roll type of character, the voice of reason, the tempered statesman who demands only the best of his unit. Clemson’s not No. 1, and won’t be happy until it’s there, but tied for 20th in national defense is a worthy rating for the nation’s best backfield infiltrators (61 tackles for loss leads the land) and third-down defense (23.7 percent.)
The way things are going, Vic Beasley might not be in orange in white in 2014, unless the Tampa Bay Buccaneers wear those orange creamsicles with him on the team. (Read between the lines on what that means.) BC’s Andre Williams, as detailed in our game story last night, failed to gain three or more yards on 17 of his 24 rushing attempts … which wouldn’t be a big deal if he hadn’t entered Saturday as the leading rusher in the country with over 150 yards per game (he had 70.) Safety Jayron Kearse endured some learning lessons on each of BC’s long touchdown plays, but other than that, the Tigers have every reason to be confident before Famous Jameis Winston comes to town.
Special teams (C+)
Yuck. Chandler Catanzaro missed a 25-yard field goal (whaaaaa?), and Corbin Jenkins muffed what looked like a decent snap on another field-goal try, which cost the Tigers six points. But Clemson did stop a fake punt on fourth down, and Bradley Pinion netted 39 yards on his five points (3 inside the 20), so it wasn’t all awful.
Good call throwing Travis Blanks back in there when it just wasn’t Kearse’s day. The Tigers were super-aggressive on fourth downs (2-of-4), but unfair as this sounds, the coaches are paid to keep the players’ focus on the game at hand instead of the one coming after it, and that wasn’t the case Saturday.
AP poll: No. 3 Clemson will host No. 5 Florida State, No. 11 South Carolina one of eight SEC ranked squads
A win’s a win. They’re not all gonna be works of art. The 6-0 is all that matters as Florida State looms, and even if the Seminoles are a 3-point favorite due to Clemson’s sloppiness Saturday, well, so be it.