Grading the Tigers vs. Duke


by - Correspondent -
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QUARTERBACK- Clemson fans weren’t the only ones to offer a warm welcome to Brandon Streeter on Saturday. Apparently, the Duke defense also has a soft spot for the senior quarterback. The Blue Devil defense rarely laid a hand on Streeter’s orange #14 jersey as he shredded the Duke secondary for 279-yards and two touchdowns in his final game in Death Valley. Woodrow Dantzler entered the game late and engineered a touchdown drive of his own, hitting high school teammate Jackie Robinson from 25-yards out. Even fourth-string quarterback Matt Schell got into the action late in the fourth quarter, participating in two drives in which he was sacked twice for a total of –16 yards. OK- so everybody didn’t have a great day, but all in all, you couldn’t ask for much more from the Tiger quarterbacks.

Grade: A+


RUNNING BACK- Travis Zachery had a career best day in terms of yardage gained (141 on 17 carries), longest run (44-yard touchdown run), and touchdowns in a game (4). All in all, not a bad day for a sophomore who started the season under Tommy Bowden’s doghouse. Zachery even got a quick hug from his coach after his fourth score of the day, helping add to the love-fest on the Tiger sideline. Bernard Rambert saw significant action for the second time this season, rushing for an impressive 49-yards on ten carries, including a 24-yard scamper in the fourth quarter.

Grade: A+


RECEIVERS- Note to opposing teams: do not attempt to cover Rod Gardner with anyone under 5-11. On his 41-yard grab in the second quarter, Gardner looked like Manute Bol fighting for a rebound with a jockey, with the jockey in this case being 5-8 cornerback Ronnie Hamilton. Seniors Mal Lawyer and Brian Wofford played went out in style with a touchdown reception apiece as a total of eight Tigers were credited with receptions.

Grade: A+


OFFENSIVE LINE- On Saturday, the Clemson offensive line made the Duke defensive line look like, well, Duke. Things seemed normal again in Death Valley as the Tiger grunts manhandled the Blue Devils like Clemson lines used to in the ‘80’s. A few silly false start penalties drew the wrath of Bowden and line coach Ron West, but this was undoubtedly the unit’s best effort of the season.

Grade: A


DEFENSIVE LINE- In easily their strongest performance of the year, the Tiger defensive line was able to dominate the line of scrimmage against Duke, holding the Blue Devils to 31-yards rushing and steadily harassing quarterbacks Spencer Romine, Bobby Cambell, and Kevin Thomas. Terry Jolly’s 20-yard ramble for a touchdown off a tipped pass was the season’s biggest highlight for the Clemson defense to date.

Grade: A


LINEBACKERS- Chad Carson, Braxton Williams, Altroy Bodrick and friends were effective at containing the run against Duke while also contributing to the Tiger’s relentless pass rush. This young unit continues to show steady improvement, particularly in it’s past three games against Florida State, Wake Forest, and Duke.

Grade: A


KEITH ADAMS- OK, so Keith Adams is a linebacker just like Carson, Williams, and Bodrick, but his performance on Saturday against Duke warrants special attention. First and foremost, the Blue Devils need to apologize to the sophomore wrecking ball for whatever it is they did to irritate him, especially if they want to avoid casualties when Adams pays a visit to Durham next season. With six tackles for loss, including a Clemson record five sacks, Adams almost single handedly destroyed the Duke offense. Incredibly, the final statistics hardly do his performance justice considering the numerous unrecorded blows he landed on Blue Devil quarterbacks after they had already released the ball. With two years left to play, Adams could leave Clemson as the football equivalent to a serial killer.

Grade: A+


SECONDARY- A little more than two months ago, junior free safety Robert Carswell had yet to record his first career interception despite being a starter for most of his previous two seasons. Apparently, Carswell has decided to make up for lost time. His two interceptions against Duke were his fourth and fifth of the season, giving him the team lead. Alex Ardley added his third pick-off of the year as the Clemson secondary held the Blue Devil’s high-powered passing offense to a meager 171-yards. The Tiger secondary passed this test; they will encounter a tougher one next week at Georgia Tech.

Grade: A


SPECIAL TEAMS- Clemson received a solid all-around effort from its special teams against Duke. The punting was again solid, Tony Lazzara hit on his only field goal attempt (although he did miss an extra point try), and Jaime Somaini’s kick-offs were deep. The Tigers’ kick and punt coverage was effective, thus capping a good afternoon for the special teams.

Grade: B+


COACHING- 558-yards of offense, 58 points, four takeaways, and only 202-yards allowed. You think these guys are on to something?

Grade: A+

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