The running game: 142 yards on 37 carries. The two-headed monster Jasman was once again effective. Too bad the Chad Jasmin part of the monster is winding down his career. Or, it’s too bad it took him so long to find his niche. He really seems to be enjoying himself on the field. But then he has been here since West left so he’s had his time. I’m happy he’s finding his niche. We need to find another like him in our stable of running backs or recruit someone like him.
The passing game: I have to ask forgiveness that I haven’t mentioned Derrick Hamilton nearly enough. The crowd on the field after the game that chanted “one more year” hopefully persuaded Hamilton to think through his options. Life will never be as sweet for Hamilton as it is now. Start getting paid for catching balls and suddenly the joy goes out things…at least that’s what we need for him to think. Charlie and Derrick next year could be a Fuller to Butler kind of a combination. They’re both that good. Hamilton had six catches for 133 yards Saturday and you have to ask yourself, “How does he make it look that easy?”
The bottom line: The two interceptions cost the offense an A. In this game the offense carried its weight early in the game. I know that I’ve given the defense most of the credit in most games this season…for good reason. The defense has been consistent and has set the tone in most games – that’s the way you want it. You win with defense. But in this game the offense did its part early and took the heat off the defense.
Against the run: Once again, the much-maligned run defense did the job. Thielen Smith must be doing something right. This guy gets no credit but this defensive line has come along. Give credit where credit is due. 117 yards rushing by Duke on 39 carries. The Blue Devils couldn’t get this part of its offense going. This was the strength of the Duke offense coming in and it was shut down.
Against the pass: 57 yards passing for the Blue Devils and two interceptions. This defensive backfield is in the right place at the right time, and they’re confident. Justin Miller hasn’t put aside his ego, but you can tell that he has helped the other defensive backs with their progress.
The bottom line: I wasn’t worried about the defense coming into the game and they were up to the task of stopping Duke’s vaunted running game. The defense continues to force turnovers. John Lovett says that maturity is what’s causing the defense to be more consistent. It’s hard to put your finger on exactly what that means and whether we can count on the defense to maintain this level of maturity, but I think this defense has been brought along with the right level of risk/reward in its schemes and it’s not likely to regress to any great degree.
SPECIAL TEAMS: B+
Kicking: Here’s hoping that Aaron Hunt can go out on a good note. There’s two games left and I think he can make it. He missed a PAT and had another blocked. He’s consistent on field goals, though. Go figure. I think at this point of Hunt’s career it’s best not to put too much thought into trying to figure out where he’s going. Just enjoy the ride. It appears that we’ll be OK with him.
Punting, kicking and kick coverage: Cole Chason averaged 37.5 yards a punt, which is about average for him. We won’t beat up on Cole unless he shanks one and it costs us the game, but we do expect him to get in the weight room in the offseason. Jad Dean was consistent as usual. Miller’s return was well executed for the TD.
The bottom line: Miller’s return was a thing of beauty. The missed PATs kept this from being an A.
Let’s just say that Bowden is coaching loose…he doesn’t seem too have many worries. I take that to mean that he isn’t worried about whether Terry Don Phillips or anyone else at Clemson wants him back here next year. What that means in terms of whether he’ll be back or not you just can’t tell right now, but if Bowden knows that he could get a job somewhere else if he wanted it then maybe it’s benefiting the Tigers right now in a way that we’ll never know.
The Tigers could have come out flat, but they seemed to take some motivation from the purple jerseys. They asked to wear them (actually they asked to wear purple pants as well, but that was shot down by Phillips) and they didn’t want to let anyone down. Whatever works, within reason. I wish that orange jerseys with white pants would motivate them the same, but we want to win the game not a fashion show.