Five Questions Answered


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Five Questions Answered
Coming into the 2017 season, we knew Clemson had a lot of strengths. We knew they had one of the best defensive lines in America. We knew the receiver corps was very deep and talented. We had heard Dabo talk about the best depth he's had at linebacker. We also knew the Tigers had four returning starters on a good offensive line. We also knew both sides of the ball had very good coordinators who draw up excellent game plans.

This team has been better through three games because of five things we didn't know. First Kelly Bryant has been so much better than we could've ever expected. The junior quarterback has showcased so much poise and composure. We had known about what his teammates thought of his leadership skills, but we didn't know he could be the passer we have seen in the first three games. Bryant is completing 69% of his passes and a thrown for 733 yards and two touchdowns through three games. Perhaps the most impressive part is he has made the throws on third down that many of us didn't think he could make. We thought he would be a great runner and through three games he has five rushing touchdowns. Few knew he could be as effective in the vertical passing game. We didn't know he could be so efficient with this third down decisions. Bryant has exceeded all expectations through three games. He beat Auburn in a higher profile night game at home and went on the road and beat Louisville in a hostile environment. He has been this team’s most valuable piece.

Second, is the secondary. Again everyone was high on Clemson's defensive line and linebackers. However, the secondary might be the brightest spot on defense. Clemson is allowing just 132 yards a game on through the air. That number includes a game against the reigning Heisman Trophy champion. The impressive part of this is the depth. Isaiah Simmons, Tanner Muse, Trayvon Mullen, K’Von Wallace, Ryan Carter, Mark Fields, Van Smith, AJ Terrell, Denzel Johnson, Marcus Edmond, and Amir Trapp give Clemson one of the deepest secondaries in the country. And the Tigers have had to rely on the depth due to injuries and an ejection. The defensive line gets a lot of credit for the 16 sacks, but many of those were coverage sacks with great play from the secondary.

Third, is the developing running game. Clemson is averaging 248 yards a game on the ground. Having to replace Wayne Gallman isn’t easy. However, Tavien Feaster and Travis Etienne looked awesome against Louisville. Kelly Bryant also has been excellent in the running game, and give credit to an experienced offensive line. Finally, the receivers have done a very good job of downfield blocking to help spring bigger runs.

Fourth, has been Will Spiers. The Tigers came into the season with a big concern at punter. That concern has been answered. Spiers has punted 11 times and eight of those pinned the opponent inside their 20-yard line. He is averaging 46.5 yards per punt including 51.7 yards per punt on the road at Louisville.The combination of poor field position and the fact that Clemson’s defense has been dominant makes it very difficult for opposing offenses.

Fifth is big plays. It's difficult to drive the ball methodically down the field now partly because many defenses want to force the action and load the box. Great offenses utilize big plays. I was not sure the Tigers could be a big play offense considering Watson, Williams, Scott, and Leggett are gone. But so far this season Bryant, Feaster, Ettiene, Cain, McCloud, and Renfrow have created big plays that have boosted this offense.

There are a lot of bright spots on both sides of the ball through three games. But these five questions have been answered and can now be considered strengths heading into this weekend's game against Boston College.

The Brad Hughes All-State Insurance Agency

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