Final Thoughts

by - Senior Writer -
Vic Beasley with a crucial sack of Aaron Murray in the first half.  (TigerNet Staff)
Vic Beasley with a crucial sack of Aaron Murray in the first half. (TigerNet Staff)

CLEMSON – Clemson’s 38-35 victory over Georgia Saturday night in Death Valley was never really pretty and exposed flaws in both teams, but for Clemson, a win is a win and Tiger players, coaches and fans can take solace in the fact that victory was achieved with Clemson playing less-than-stellar football.

There were plenty of bright spots, to be sure, but dropped passes, missed blocks by the running backs, wide open receivers for Georgia, poor tackling and a muffed punt by Sammy WatkinsSammy Watkins
Jr. Wide Receiver
#2 6-1, 205
Fort Myers, FL

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all ensure that Clemson’s players have no reason to think they are world-beaters after the win.

And really, isn’t that a sign of how far this program has come under Swinney? The Tigers defeated a Top 5 team without playing anywhere near a perfect game, and did it by winning the battles in the trenches.

Fortunately for Clemson, they get South Carolina St. next week, and then have12 days to prepare for N.C. State for a crucial Thursday night game in Raleigh. In other words – there is time to fix some of the problems from Saturday night. For Georgia, the opposite is true as they host South Carolina next week in Athens.

Now on to some other thoughts from the game.

*Todd Gurley, Georgia’s stud running back, is just a full grown man out on the football field. I don’t think anybody would argue that he might have been the best player out on the field Saturday night. I saw him play in the Shrine Bowl his senior season – when Clemson was right in the mix for his services – and said then that he was the must-have out of that recruiting cycle. Imagine what Clemson’s offense would be like with him in the mix….

*Clemson running back Roderick McDowell was also impressive. A lot of people have said that he isn’t a back that can carry the ball 20 times a game, but he managed 22 carries Saturday night and even ran hard between the tackles. And then, there were a couple of moves that were – in the lexicon of today – absolutely sick. I thought he broke one Georgia defender’s knees on one run, and he left another grasping for air on yet another run. After the game, however, McDowell was his usual humble self and said he still doesn’t think of himself as the starter, and that he shares the position will all of the other running backs.

*Speaking of running backs – Zac BrooksZac Brooks
So. Running Back
#24 6-1, 185
Jonesboro, AR

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was impressive, especially on his touchdown catch on a throw from Tajh BoydTajh Boyd
RS Sr. Quarterback
#10 6-1, 225
Hampton, VA

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in the third quarter. Brooks has great hands, and could be a big weapon out of the backfield. He also had three rushes for 20 yards.

*We heard during the spring and during fall camp that wideouts Martavis BryantMartavis Bryant
Jr. Wide Receiver
#1 6-5, 200
Calhoun Falls, SC

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and Charone PeakeCharone Peake
Jr. Wide Receiver
#19 6-3, 200
Moore, SC

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had turned the corner, but both of them had issues with drops, even though Peake wound up with a respectable five catches. Bryant was shut out against a beleaguered Georgia secondary, and both players have to understand that someone besides Sammy Watkins needs to make plays. Games like this one make you realize how much DeAndre HopkinsDeAndre Hopkins
Wide Receiver
#6 6-2, 205
Central, SC

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Hopkins is missed.

*The Tigers are thin at tight end right now, but both Stanton SeckingerStanton Seckinger
RS So. Tight End
#81 6-4, 210
Isle of Palms, SC

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and Darrell SmithDarrell Smith
Gr. Fullback
#40 6-1, 250
Gadsden, AL

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showed why offensive coordinator Chad MorrisChad Morris
Offensive Coordinator / QBs
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said he wasn’t concerned about the position last week. Seckinger caught a nine yard pass from Boyd and stretched out over the goal line for a fourth quarter touchdown that proved to be the difference. For the record - I think Seckinger is going to be really good.

*How good is Spencer ShueySpencer Shuey
Gr. Linebacker
#33 6-3, 230
Charlotte, NC

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? The senior linebacker got his chance last season against Georgia Tech and wound up leading the team in tackles. So what was his reward in the offseason? He was forced to switch positions as the coaches endeavored to give former 5-star recruit Stephone AnthonyStephone Anthony
Jr. Linebacker
#42 6-2, 235
Polkton, NC

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the chance to shine at the middle linebacker spot. Shuey was moved to the weakside spot, and he responded by leading the Tigers in tackles Saturday night with 12. He also recovered a fumble (a fumble forced by Anthony), and seemed to be in on every key stop Clemson had in the second half. Give me 11 Spencer Shuey’s any day of the week.

*Clemson’s problems in kickoff return defense were well-documented last season – they helped cost the Tigers the game at FSU – but specialist Bradley PinionBradley Pinion
So. Punter
#92 6-5, 230
Concord, NC

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made that a moot point Saturday by booming every kickoff into the endzone. The Bulldogs didn’t have any kickoff returns, and had just one punt return for a meager four yards. All in all, a good night for the special teams, the only blemish the muffed punt by Watkins.

*It was a weird night for Clemson’s defense as the Tigers gave up 545 total yards, but 21 points came in the game’s first 17 minutes. The Bulldogs then scored just 7 points over the next 41 minutes, and it was evident that Clemson’s pressure and defensive coordinator Brent Venable’s blitzes from all over the field rattled Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray. The defense also held Georgia on three straight runs inside the five-yard line in the third quarter, but the defensive line held, and the result was a botched field goal attempt.

*A huge play in the game was the fourth quarter punt return by C.J. JonesC.J. Jones
RS Sr. Cornerback
#38 6-0, 185
Lincolnton, GA

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that gave Clemson the ball at the 13-yard line. Freshman linebacker Ben BoulwareBen Boulware
Fr. Outside Linebacker
#10 6-1, 230
Anderson, SC

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touched the ball on the punt, and the ball bounced into the endzone for what could have been a game-changing play. Jones saw what happened, scooped up the ball and returned it out of the endzone. Twelve plays later, Clemson scored to go up 38-28.

*Clemson fans, give yourselves a pat on the back. The crowd was into the game from start to finish, and actually caused of couple of procedure penalties for the Bulldogs. Murray said after the game that the noise from the crowd caused problems at different times, and that it’s hard to simulate that kind of noise in practice.

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