|by David Hood|
“That one was ugly. Downright ugly,” he said as he helped move equipment to the buses that were waiting to take the nation’s 3rd-ranked team to the airport.
I disagree – any time you can walk away with a 12-point win over a conference and division opponent, on the road and after a 12-day layoff, it’s a beautiful thing.
There were parts to the victory that were painful to watch – missed assignments and poor tackling in the back end of Clemson’s defense and shaky play on parts of the offensive line come to mind. The bad news is that the Tigers aren’t clicking on all cylinders right now. The good news is that they don’t have to be.
And it really is amazing at how far this program has come when you can complain about a 12-point win on the road. Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said earlier this week that Clemson would have to bring it’s “A” game in order to beat N.C. State, and on that count he was wrong. If a non-biased person was to grade the Tigers off of what they saw Thursday night, it would be somewhere around a “C” grade. And that, at least for this night, we good enough.
*I’m not sure what precipitated offensive lineman Isaiah Battle’s uppercut to a Wolfpack defender on that last Clemson drive, but he will definitely miss at least next week’s game against Wake Forest, and Swinney could decide to add on to the infraction. However, Swinney told the media after the game that a contrite Battle came into the locker room and apologized to his teammates and coaches.
Battle is still growing into the kind of player the coaches want him to be, and I thought he did a decent job during his stint on the field Thursday night. Now, he has at least a week to sit back and think about his actions. If he wouldn’t have thrown that punch, I could see where he might have started at left tackle against the Demon Deacons, with Brandon Thomas moving over to right tackle. Now that is off the table.
Live and learn, young man, live and learn.
*A scary sight for many Clemson fans was when left guard David Beasley limped off with an ankle injury in the fourth quarter. However, I saw Beasley in the hallway outside of the locker room, and he was walking without much of a limp.
*Specialist Bradley Pinion didn’t look like he had the normal power on his kicks Thursday night, and I heard after the game that he has battled some soreness in his right knee this week. A nine-day break should be just what the doctor ordered.
*The Tigers looked like a team that hadn’t been really tested in almost three weeks, and now have nine more days before taking the field again. The players were all saying that it took them the better part of two quarters to shake off the rust and get moving in synch. Don’t forget that Clemson has a similar setup later this season, with a bye week before playing at home against Georgia Tech on Thursday night. Come out rusty for two quarters in that one and you might get beat.
However, don’t look for him to take the place of Vic Beasley, who had three more sacks Thursday night and now has five on the season. He had eight all of last year when he ranked fourth in the ACC. He might have eight before the midway point of the season.
Overall, Clemson’s defense now has 12 sacks over the first three games, the most over the first three games of the season since 1999 when Tommy Bowden’s team also had 12.
*First off, congratulations to N.C. State for not giving up when the Pack trailed 26-7 in the fourth quarter Thursday night. But the drive on which N.C. State scored its final touchdown was a thing of beauty for the Pack, but ugly for Clemson’s defense. The Pack ran 23 plays on the drive, and converted four times on fourth down.
Clemson’s defense did a great job on third down all night – N.C. State was just 3-for-16 – but that fourth down number was atrocious.
David Hood can be reached at email@example.com