|Tuesday, September 2, 2014, 8:28 AM- -|
Saturday had so many positives but ended with so many negatives. The answers that were found in the first half gave way to question marks that emerged in the final 10 minutes.
The first half saw the offense get in a rhythm. The running game was solid. The blocking was more than acceptable. The passing game produced big plays. The defense forced three and outs.
The only real issues came in the special teams. Georgia scored on an electrifying kickoff return and pinned Clemson deep in its own territory, while Clemson missed a short field goal.
Had the special teams played better Clemson could have taken a 10 point lead into the locker room. Instead, a halftime tie turned into a 24-21 Bulldog lead in the third quarter.
The third quarter and early fourth quarter saw Clemson's offense deep in its own territory and the defense holding the Dawgs out of scoring position. The Tigers got conservative while the Bulldogs got aggressive on defense. The results were several three and outs.
The last 10 minutes of the game saw three UGA touchdowns, including two by Todd Gurley who was phenomenal and the difference in the game.
In the end, Clemson could not handle its opportunities in the first half while Georgia took advantage of theirs in the fourth quarter. Field position played a huge part of the issues, as did Georgia's depth at running back.
Leading up to the game I expressed concern on this blog and on my radio show about Clemson's lack of big play capability. I thought Gurley and Georgia had the huge advantage there.
I also expressed concerns about Georgia's big advantage at tailback. The Dawgs have four, four- and five-star athletes in their backfield, while Clemson's best back is a former walk-on.
Those fresh legs played a big part in wearing down a defense that stayed on the field the entire second half. Momentum and field position played a huge part in the home team's opening win.
Coming out of the game Clemson has several question marks. First is special teams. The placekicker looked extremely uncomfortable on a short attempt.
Clemson has talent issues at running back. The walk-on appears to be better than the senior starter. I think we may need to see more of the red-shirt freshman in
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And at quarterback,
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View Full Profile played well at times but was indecisive at times. DeShawn Watson was not perfect but he needs more snaps. Clemson needs help in the running game and Watson gives the Tigers a zone read threat. This takes pressure off of the offensive line.
On defense there were some issues tackling late and there were some bad angles taken by the back seven. But give Georgia credit. Tackling Gurley is different than any back they will see this season.
It is only one game but, in my opinion, it will be unrealistic to expect this team to win against the nation's number one team on the road later this month. Therefore, this season will come down to how this team progresses and how it plays against UNC, NC State and Louisville at home. And in the end this season will come down to beating South Carolina in the regular season finale.
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