Inside Look: Grading Clemson versus Notre Dame
|Sunday, November 8, 2020, 7:01 PM- -|
Clemson dropped its first regular-season game since 2017 in a double-OT defeat at now-No. 2 Notre Dame, 47-40. We take a deeper look into the game with the help of Pro Football Focus:
Three standouts (offense)
Uiagalelei was among the Clemson offense's top performers for a second-straight start, where he equaled his grade from the BC win the previous week (74.6). Three of his four deep shots (20-plus yards) connected for 131 yards and a touchdown. On passes of 10-plus yards, Uiagalelei was 9-of-12 for 230 yards and two TDs. Notre Dame’s pressure did affect him when they did get to him, as the freshman connected on just two of six throws there for 38 yards, taking two sacks and throwing away two pass attempts. Comfort as a runner is something he is still working on as well, grading out at 53.1 in the run game Saturday.
Carman graded well for a second-straight week but earned high marks in a different area this time around. While the unit as a whole had its issues, Carman posted a 89.3 rush blocking grade, combining with a 65.8-mark as a pass blocker for an offense-best 85.2 grade in 78 snaps.
The senior wide receiver again delivered when his efforts were much-needed with six catches in seven targets for 161 yards and a TD.
Offense grade notes
* Clemson’s most unbalanced effort offensively (34 rushing yards/439 passing) graded the second-worst of the season (70.3; 65.8 vs. Syracuse the previous-worst).
* Uiagalelei’s passing grade was the high mark (77.1), with the aid of decent pass blocking (72.2).
* Clemson’s running ability suffered a season-low grade (56.2), with a Notre Dame defensive score also coming off of a toss backward to Travis Etienne. The run-blocking was in a familiar lane as many this season, as a sixth grade of 63.4 or lower (62.2).
* Etienne did bring in eight more catches in nine targets for 57 yards against Notre Dame. PFF rates him 10th-best nationally among all receivers (90.9) with 37 catches for 490 yards and two scores.
Three standouts (defense)
Venables forced a key fumble into the end zone that kept Notre Dame off of the scoreboard late in the third quarter. Of starters, Venables graded the highest (71.1) with a team-high 87.4 mark against the run. As has been noted, the Tiger linebackers did struggle to get past Notre Dame’s O-line and running backs on the blitz and he did grade 57.3 on pass rush.
Charleston stepped in for a season-high 68 snaps and led the way in tackling (85.1 grade; 8 tackles), grading 66.2 overall.
Turner was a busy man with five targets his way, allowing four catches but for only 33 yards. He tallied six tackles, including three stops and graded 66.9 in coverage and 65.1 on defense overall.
Defense/special teams grade notes
*Coinciding with season highs in yards (518) and points allowed, Brent Venables’ M.A.S.H. unit of a defensive group currently graded below 60 for the first time this season (58.5). That was the worst grade PFF has given a Venables defense since 2015 (57.9 in a 37-27 win over Syracuse).
* Where were they knocked the most? Pass rush (54.1), also a first trip below 60 on the season, and coverage (52.2), which was a second-straight week with struggles there (51.6 against BC).
* BT Potter has had an excellent season on field goals (10-of-14; 15th-best with 79.1 grade) and his steadiness on kickoffs has him with the nation’s highest-grade there (90.7) with an average hangtime of 4.12 seconds, 52 touchbacks and only five returns allowed for 101 yards.
RB Travis Etienne
It was a frustrating night for the dynamic All-American candidate, who saw his lowest grade of the season (55) with particular issues in pass blocking (32.8) and his bread-and-butter with the run game (54.6). Struggling at times syncing up with the freshman QB, Etienne was contained to his lowest rushing total (28) since his freshman season (22 versus Alabama in the Sugar Bowl). He had a game-long run of only 13 yards with just two avoided tackles (averaged five per game in the first four games of the season).
The issues in the run game certainly tie to the interior, where they were all below a 60-grade in guards Will Putnam (58.5) and Matt Bockhorst (49.1; injured at one point and limited to 32 snaps) and center Cade Stewart (56.5). Those overall grades correlated with poor run-blocking grades as well for the trio (Stewart - 59.3; Putnam - 52.7; Bockhorst - 40.4). Bockhorst (82.1) and Putnam (76.9) were solid in pass protection, however.
Jones was picked on by the Irish, with seven targets his way and four completions for 96 yards. He had a unit-low 43.7 grade in coverage.
(Grades and stats via Pro Football Focus)