Grading the Tigers vs. Duke Blue Devils

by - Correspondent -
Woodrow Dantzler the runner turned in another inspired performance against Duke, rushing for 153 yards on 22 carries.

QUARTERBACKS- Woodrow Dantzler the runner turned in another inspired
performance against Duke, rushing for 153 yards on 22 carries with a 34-yard
touchdown burst that would have made Barry Sanders envious. Woodrow Dantzler
the passer, however, left a good bit to be desired, particularly with his misfires
on deep balls to Rod Gardner. Backup Willie Simmons' continues to show why he
was such a hot commodity coming out of Shanks High School, connecting with Kevin
Youngblood on a beautiful 38-yard touchdown pass late in the game.

Grade: B

RUNNING BACKS- Despite playing on a surface that resembled wet oatmeal
more than grass, Clemson runners still combined for 187 yards, with freshman
Keith Kelly leading the way with 84 yards on 12 carries. Travis Zachery looked
strong in limited duty with 67 yards while Terry Witherspoon rumbled for 18
on three powerful carries.

Grade: B+

RECEIVERS- Rod Gardner should have had a huge day against Duke. The 6-3
senior consistently got behind the Duke coverage only to have Dantzler's passes
fall well short of the mark on a number of deep routes. Youngblood's TD reception
was spectacular while Joe Don Reames' dropped pass in the endzone was not. Talk
to Morgan Woodward for just a few minutes and you'll realize why teammates and
coaches love the guy. The former walk-on's eight-yard touchdown catch in the
second quarter shows that Clemson's tight end problems aren't as bad as they
once seemed.

Grade: B+

OFFENSIVE LINE- The Clemson line was generally solid against Duke, handling
numerous Blue Devil blitzes effectively for most of the afternoon while effectively
creating holes for Tiger runners. Not as dominating of a performance as offensive
line coach Ron West would have liked, but a solid one nonetheless.

Grade: B

DEFENSIVE LINE- Terry Jolly and Nick Eason each recorded sacks as the
Tigers successfully controlled the line of scrimmage against the Blue Devils.
Perhaps the most vicious hit of the afternoon came courtesy of Eason as he leveled
a Duke receiver who took a cheap shot at Brian Mance. Unfortunately, the hit
came well after the whistle blew.

Grade: B

LINEBACKERS- Braxton K. Williams and Keith Adams were spectacular, combining
for five sacks and numerous quarterback pressures. Aside from a poor showing
by the second unit, the Tigers were once again solid at this spot.

Grade: B+

SECONDARY- Sophomore Brian Mance continued to make an impact in the defensive
backfield with his third interception of the season on Saturday. Chris Douglas'
41-yard run marked the first time this season that an opposing player has gotten
past Tiger safeties Robert Carswell and Charles Hafley.

Grade: B

SPECIAL TEAMS- In what is becoming a disturbing pattern, the Clemson
special teams suffered a number of critical lapses on Saturday, with a blocked
punt and a botched fumbled kickoff return leading to nine Blue Devil points.
While Joe Don Reames continues to impress as a punt returner, it is critical
that Clemson improves its special teams play as a whole. In a close game Saturday's
mistakes would have been nothing short of disastrous.

Grade: F

COACHING- Somewhat surprisingly, the Clemson offense continues to shine
on the ground, once again proving that Rich Rodriguez' scheme is truly multi-dimensional.
Defensively, the Tigers were again solid until the second and third units all
but collapsed in the fourth quarter. Perhaps the greatest example of the pride
that the coaching staff has instilled in this team could be witnessed after
the game's end as the Tigers made the 200-yard walk to the visitor's locker
room. Despite a convincing 30-point victory, the players were sullen almost
to a man, acting as if they had just been the ones steamrolled minutes earlier.
In short, there have been funeral processions more enthusiastic. With that in
mind, one can't help but wonder if there is something truly special about the
attitude of this team. This group appears to be driven to achieve perfection,
and for Tiger fans, what more could you ask?

Grade: Offense- B Defense-B

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