Clemson247 takes a look at what went right, what went wrong and what stood out in Clemson's win over Maryland on Saturday.
Five things that went right
1- Clemson beats Maryland and in the process sets the Clemson record for consecutive wins at home with 12. We're talking about a record from the Danny Ford era; impressive.
2- Another blowout and Clemson gets to play the young. For the third straight week Clemson got to empty the benches and play its second and third string guys. With Clemson being one of the youngest teams in the nation getting this youth some work is a big bonus.
3- The Clemson defense continues to get better late in the season. In recent years the Clemson defense started the season strong and didn't play as well down the stretch.
You can't say enough about the coaching job defensive coordinator Brent Venables has done with this Clemson defense. Defensive end Vic Beasley plays a reserve role and is 8th in the ACC in sacks. Pretty good work for 30-35 snaps a game.
4- Clemson was 6 of 14 on third down, 3 of 3 on fourth down and 1 penalty for 5 yards.
Clemson has played outstanding on third down most of the year. This is one of the keys to the Chad Morris offense. When Morris has third downs that are manageable the defense is at a distinct disadvantage. Chad Morris is now very confident in his offense to go for on fourth down. This will drive opposing defensive coordinators mad right?
The Tigers also played a clean game having only one penalty.
5- Quarterback Tajh Boyd had another great game. It's hard to match the five touchdown first half performances he's had of late. Boyd also had much better ball security. Clean and solid performances like the one against Maryland is what Clemson will need against NC State and South Carolina.
Five things that went wrong (except there were only three)
1- Clemson had three fumbles Saturday. The Tigers are getting away with turnovers but these last two games will require a sharper focus.
2- It's scary to think quarterback Tajh Boyd can be ever better but he can. You haven't seen the best of Tajh Boyd in my opinion. He's put up outstanding numbers and led this team. If he cleans a few things up and comes back next year he could be the best quarterback in the nation by years end. Credit Boyd for putting in the work this year to get better.
3- Special team errors pop up for Clemson. This week it was the too long field goal attempt where Maryland got a long return in to Clemson territory is a tactical error. The muffed punt return by Adam Humphries. My hunch is Humpries never drops another punt the rest of his career.
Five key stats
1- The defense scored another touchdown. Defensive end Corey Crawford had the presence of mind to push Maryland quarterback Sean Petty to the ground, grab the fumble and run it in for a score.
2- 12 consecutive home win for Clemson. The home field advantage at Clemson was slipping under Tommy Bowden with careless losses. Credit Dabo Swinney for bringing back the home field advantage. Now; can Clemson make it 14 by taking care of NC State and South Carolina?
3- 4 quarters. In the second half as Clemson emptied it's benches and didn't give up any garbage touchdowns. This team continues to mature. Last year and earlier in the season this team gave up some easy points. Venables attitude is rubbing off on this defense. They have become stingy and opportunistic. You have to like that heading in to games against NC State and South Carolina.
4- 1 game away from 10 wins. Last year Clemson won 10 games with a win over Virginia Tech in the ACC Championship game.
If Clemson can beat NC State this week it will win 10 regular season games for the first time in over 20 years. Rare air for coach Dabo Swinney.
5- Clemson held Maryland to 180 yards in total offense. It used to be if a quarterback could run Clemson fans would gasp. Saturday that was all Maryland could offer was running and Clemson kept him in check.
Five of my observations
1- This Clemson staff is elite. Saturday this staff had quite the gathering of recruits at Death Valley. The list included Motravius Adams, Macensie Alexander, Tramel Terry and Wayne Gallman. The Clemson staff continues to be impressive recruiting.
2- Clemson needs some competition. This team has beat to death the last five teams it's played. Sure Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech played a good half but the Tigers overwhelmed both. Clemson now has a two game season with games against NC State and South Carolina where it will have better competition to face.
3- Watching the Clemson defense up close you can see these guys developing a swag about them late in the season. Presnap early in the season Clemson's defense was on it's heels. Now presnap this defense has a forward lean to them like they are waiting to pounce. You have to love that aggression.
4- Quarterback Chad Kelly, yeah you read that right. I watched this kid warm up and he has the makings of a great quarterback. He is quick and has a great arm.
Why did I bring him up? On the sidelines I watched him follow offensive coordinator Chad Morris up and down the sidelines like a retriever. Kelly with a clipboard and pen the whole time and they weren't for show. Kelly jotted notes down the entire game as if he was writing a book. You have to love the effort of a kid humbling himself and learning his craft.
5- Defensive end Corey Crawford and the fumble return for a touchdown. What made it impressive?
When Maryland's quarterback S. Petty fumbled Crawford in an unselfish act pushed Petty to the ground so he or one of his teammates could scoop and score. That is team that is staying in the moment, that is putting yourself in a position to succeed. Crawford didn't know he could pick that ball up when he pushed Petty down but he knew that if he eliminated Petty that odds are orange jerseys would get the ball. Hats of to you Corey Crawford.
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