Daniel Rodriguez leading the team on the field energized the team and the crowd.
Having Daniel Rodriguez lead the team onto the field
How better to celebrate Military Appreciation Day than to have U.S. Army veteran and current Clemson football player Daniel Rodriguez lead the team down The Hill?
The 24-year-old walk-on wide receiver also served as captain for the coin toss, in honor of his military service.
Rodriguez fought in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and was awarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Star for his heroic actions on October 3, 2009 in the Battle of Kamdesh. Eight American soldiers lost their lives that day, and 22 were injured, including Rodriguez.
Having Rodriguez run down The Hill first, while waving the American flag, was not only inspirational to see, it was a classy move by Coach Swinney and the entire football program.
Special Teams at Virginia Tech have been referred to as 'Beamer Ball' for a long time because the Hokies head coach Frank Beamer puts so much emphasis on that facet of the game.
On Saturday though, it was the Tigers who shined on special teams!
Clemson played Beamer ball against Virginia Tech. Catman continues to shine.
There was a time a couple of seasons ago when Clemson fans would hold their breath as Chandler Catanzaro trotted onto the field to attempt a field goal. To say he was inconsistent early in his career is putting it mildly. But those days are behind him. The junior has been solid all season, and made his 20th consecutive field goal on Saturday.
The Tigers other kicker, Spencer Benton, continues to do a great job handling kickoffs and punts, and actually recorded his 26th career tackle on Saturday. A kicker/punter with 26 career tackles!
And, even when Benton shanked a punt in the second quarter, his coverage unit was superb, as Tony Steward jumped on the ball after it hit a Virginia Tech player. That gave the Tigers offense a fresh set of downs at the Va Tech 26 , and six plays later, Clemson took a 10-7 lead with a touchdown.
Okay, so I don't need any dinner tonight because I'm eating crow.
Last week, I called out Jonathan Meeks for often being out of position on pass coverage and missing tackles against the run.
This week, he responded with two interceptions, one of which he returned for a 74-yard touchdown. Those interceptions, the sixth and seventh of his career, ranking him fifth all-time in Clemson history.
Jonathan Meeks had a huge game including two interceptions and a pick six.
Andre Ellington did everything you'd like to see your starting running back do in a ballgame.
He ran the ball well between the tackles, waited on his blockers, saw holes before they opened up, and showed a combination of speed, strength, and durability.
The redshirt senior gained 96 yards on 19 carries against the Hokies, and scored a rushing touchdown in the third quarter that was pretty much the nail in the coffin for Virginia Tech.
Saturday was also a special day for Ellington, as he surpassed the 3,000 yard rushing mark for his career.
I know, I know, he's had a great season so far, and if you only looked at the box score from Saturday, you might think it was a pretty decent performance from Clemson's quarterback, but he wasn't his usual self. Boyd was 12/21, 160 yards, 1 touchdown and 1 interception.
If you watched the game, you know that Tajh was, what's the best way to describe it? Off.
Tajh Boyd started slow but rallied down the stretch to make some key plays for the Tigers.
He made a bad read during the Tigers first possession of the ballgame, when he should have handed the ball off to Andre Ellington, but instead kept it himself, and was sacked for a loss of 8 yards.
The next possession, DeAndre Hopkins was wide open across the middle, but Boyd threw the ball too high. Hopkins could only get a finger on the ball, so instead of a reception, it was tipped, and the pass was intercepted by Virginia Tech's Michael Cole.
Boyd misfired again at the end of the first quarter third and goal down 7-0 he locked on to Nuk Hopkins instead of taking the open Sammy Watkins and Andre Ellington. He overthrew Hopkins in back of the end zone, and the Tigers had to settled for a field goal.
He somewhat redeemed himself in the third quarter with a perfectly placed 37-yd. touchdown pass to Hopkins that put the Tigers up 31-10.
While the offensive line did a great job blocking for Ellington and the running game, they struggled protecting Boyd in the pocket, giving up five sacks against Virginia Tech.
They had only allowed 10 sacks all season coming into this game.
You could argue one of the five sacks was Boyd's fault for a bad read, but still, this unit has played well all season, and didn't live up to those expectations on Saturday.
The fans that booed during the armed forces swear-in ceremony
Regardless of your political affiliations, you should feel embarassed about this one if you booed.
A group of new military recruits were sworn in during a break in the ballgame, and when the commander in chief was mentioned in their oath, some fans booed.
It doesn't matter if you're voting for Obama or Romney, you'll probably agree with me on this one. That was simply an embarassing move by a small portion of the crowd, but it makes the entire fan base look bad to those watching at home.
Men and women in the military protect us as an entire nation, and our armed forces are not affiliated with either political party.
It's bad enough when something like this happens anytime. It's even worse when it occurs on Military Appreciation Day.
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