Clemson247 takes an in-depth look at last Saturday's Clemson win over N.C. State. What went right, what went wrong, key stats and our observations.
Chad Morris has Clemson in high gear on offense.
Five things that went right
1- Clemson scored six straight touchdowns Saturday night. Some teams don't score six touchdowns in two games. The explosiveness of this Chad Morris offense continues to amaze. The weapons are all over the field and Morris makes teams pay if they don't pay attention to all of them.
2- Clemson stared at the scoreboard and after three straight NC State touchdowns it was 24-13. This team didn't panic or pack it in. This is when Clemson proceeded to score 42 straight points. This team has character and they continue to show it. The coaches tell us the team still haven't had their best game.
3- The competition level stepped up with NC State. Clemson just had a run of playing Wake Forest, Duke and Maryland. Not exactly teams capable of pushing Clemson. This was good for Clemson especially going in to a bitter rivalry game against South Carolina game.
4- Clemson ran the ball well Saturday night. Andre Ellington was healthy and Rod McDowell provided quality runs for the Tigers as well. Quarterback Tajh Boyd also packed a punch on the ground Saturday night as well. The Tigers will need this type of focus Saturday night against South Carolina.
5- Tajh Boyd and Dalton Freeman's leadership. Being down on the field I saw first hand how valuable Tajh Boyd and Dalton Freeman are to this team. These two provide a calming effect for the Clemson offense and put their teammates in positions to succeed. The film study these two do on their own time can't be underscored enough.
Five things that went wrong
1- The Clemson defense gave up 597 yards of offense including 493 through the air. Mike Glennon torched the Clemson defense for 5 touchdowns. Most were easy pitch and catches. After the game when we talked to defensive coordinator Brent Venables he seemed ready then to get back to work and get this team ready for South Carolina.
Tajh Boyd had a record setting performance against NC State with 529 yards of offense and 103 rushing.
2- Kickoff coverage. A dreadful performance by Clemson. NC State had eight returns for 277 yards. This will have to be fixed before Saturday night. If Clemson covers kicks like it did against NC State when they kick to South Carolina's Ace Sanders they will lose because he will score. Clemson simply can't give up field position to South Carolina like they did against NC State.
3- The Clemson secondary had a bad night Saturday. The good news is most of the mistakes made were ones that should be fixable in preparation for South Carolina. Passing isn't the Gamecocks speciality but you can bet Spurrier made special note to how NC State threw at will to the tight end.
4- Clemson ran 102 plays Saturday. Good right? Yes and no. The no is that when Clemson runs up that many plays the defense has to work harder and longer because Clemson's offense strikes with such quickness. There will be a fine line against South Carolina Saturday night. 65 plays won't be enough but 102 may be too many with the strain it will put on the Clemson defense.
5- This wasn't something that went wrong per say but when Clemson plays South Carolina the running lanes, pass lanes and close on the ball goes up dramatically. Clemson can't afford to force balls, drop passes or stare down receivers. This is the final test. Beat South Carolina.
Five key stats
1- 529 yards: Thats what quarterback Tajh Boyd had Saturday night. He broke Woody Dantzler's single game record for yards. Boyd had 5 passing touchdowns and 3 rushing touchdowns. He continues to be the leader and soul of the Clemson offense.
2- 10 wins in a regular season for the first time since 1981. I think these ten wins are more significant than last year because Clemson did it in the regular season. Now the Tigers have shot to win twelve if they beat South Carolina and win their bowl. Would you have guessed this Clemson team had a shot at this in August?
3- 328 yards rushing: Clemson had two players with over 100 yards rushing. Andre Ellington had 124 yards rushing and Tajh Boyd 103 yards. Even Rod McDowell had 83 yards. Hats off to the Clemson offensive line for this performance.
Sammy Watkins was back to form with 11 catches, 110 yards and a touchdown.
4- 754 yards: A staggering total for the Clemson offense. What is scary is I think they are capable of more. The Tigers also gave up no sacks which is incredible considering it had 102 plays from scrimmage. One of the best defensive fronts in the nation now awaits Clemson Saturday. How will they respond blocking?
5- Sammy Watkins, he's back. Watkins had 11 receptions Saturday, 110 yards and a touchdown. Last year Clemson went in to the South Carolina game with a banged up Sammy Watkins. #2 is healthy and you can bet that won't get lost on the South Carolina defensive staff.
Five thoughts for the water cooler this week
1- Clemson is now 10-1 and won 10 games in the regular season for the first time in thirty years. But, now it's South Carolina. It's Steve Spurrier winning three in a row. It's Rivalry and emotion. Clemson has to look through the emotions and find a way to win this game. There is only one way; hit the Gamecocks right in the mouth for sixty minutes. Nothing fancy just pure aggression. It's going to take a special effort Saturday night for the Tigers to beat South Carolina.
2- Someone very close to this situation told me Tajh Boyd and Dalton Freeman were putting in their own hours everyday right now watching film trying to get better and learn their opponents. This is the kind of late season dedication that win games. Studying your opponent always pays dividends.
3- When you hear the coaches say after the game that the team never flinched after going down 24-13 it's sometimes hard to grasp. I was right there and this team didn't flinch. Their mood never changed and Tajh Boyd kept everyone focused. This is the difference make this year. Their is leadership on the Clemson sidelines and it's not just the coaches anymore. These players want to win. They know how to win now which has to be learned through experience.
4- D.J. Reader: each week I zero in on some players when I am down there watching the game. This week I spied Reader. This kid is going to be special. It's unheard of for a defensive tackle as a true freshman to play like this. The kid has made his mistakes early in the year and not made them again. He's feisty, quick and physical.
How about this stat: D.J. Reader has played 207 snaps this year and has 36 tackles. Maliciah Goodman has 511 snaps and 23 tackles. The efficiency of this kid is remarkable. Reader is a big time player and he's only begun.
5- Buy your stock now of Vic "the creature" Beasley. Dabo Swinney told us last week Beasley was a creature. Saturday against NC State he played 44 snaps, 5 tackles and 3 sacks. Beasley is now third in the ACC for sacks with 8. Thus far he has to be the most improved player on the team. If you watch him now versus early in the season he is starting to figure it out. He's a menace and in the backfield a lot. Look for Beasley to hunt down Connor Shaw Saturday night.