Grading the Tigers vs. Georgia

by - Correspondent -
Linebacker Leroy Hill had 16 tackles against the Bulldogs despite suffering from cramps.


The running game: Duane Coleman did OK for his first start. At least he didn't throw up on the ball. He showed promise by hitting his holes. Not bad for a freshman. But for all the talk during the offseason about becoming tougher in the running game, Clemson didn't show it - especially when it counted. Charlie Whitehurst had the best pick up for the Tigers on an 11-yard fourth down scramble. Clemson gained 35 yards on 24 carries and had to resort to trickery instead of running the ball on fourth and short near the goalline.

The passing game: The disaster here has more to do with strategy than execution. Whitehurst should have been able to hook up with one of his receivers deep. However, you get the feeling that the coaching staff might not trust his judgment in reading the secondary under pressure. The time has passed for Bowden or whoever is making the decisions on offense to be confident in Whitehurst's ability to read the defensive coverage. Either he can read the coverage or he needs to learn the hard way.

The bottom line: Clemson's offense showed little imagination. It appeared that Bowden was worried about Whitehurst taking shots if he had to sit in the pocket, and Whitehurst did get hit hard at times. He better get used to it. Clemson's offensive line isn't ready to give him that much time. If these receivers don't start catching some balls downfield, the problem is going to compound itself. Not only will teams stack the line, but receivers that are considering Clemson will start to get the message that they might as well look elsewhere.


Against the run: Georgia had four runners with higher run totals than the rest of the team. Georgia's young line is good. Clemson's linebackers were in on a ton of tackles. The jury is still out on Clemson's defensive line. This wasn't a total disaster. At times there was pressure on Greene/Shockley.

Against the pass: Take away the long touchdown pass and Clemson's secondary played as well as it's capable of playing. There were no other major lapses. This secondary will improve as the season goes along.

The bottom line: Clemson's defense, despite the long touchdown pass, was able to keep the Tigers in the game until the fourth quarter. The offense didn't help, handing Georgia the ball twice in good field position on fumbles and turning the ball over on an interception. All of that should sound familiar - Clemson's offense did the same thing last season. The defense could have possibly graded a low B if not for allowing the cheap touchdown at the end.


Kicking: Clemson hasn't hit a 50-yard fieldgoal in nearly six years. For Aaron Hunt to come up short by five yards on his 52-yard attempt is somewhat perplexing considering the fact that the ball should jump off his foot in the heat and he had a breeze behind him. It was inexcusable not to have the distance on that one.

Punting, kicking and kick coverage: In one of the few promising developments of the day, freshman Jad Dean hit his kickoff out of the endzone. Cole Chason benefited from Georgia letting a couple of hit punts hit the ground. Otherwise his average wouldn't have been above 40 yards.

The bottom line: It appears that Jad Dean should be able to handle putting kickoffs into the endzone. It might be asking a lot, but here's one other thing to fix this season while we're at it: let's put some serious pressure on the opposing punter for once.


Game plan and strategy: Predictable, to say the least. Georgia quarterback David Greene said Clemson was in the exact coverage he had seen on film in third and short when he completed his 56-yard touchdown pass to Fred Gibson.

Motivation: This team's enthusiasm evaporated with the heat. No excuse for that given the circumstances - 83,000+ in the stands, ABC television, last time playing Georgia for the foreseeable future. Even Justin Miller's bit of over-enthusiasm that resulted in his running to the bottom of The Hill before the cannon went off could be overlooked if the enthusiasm could have carried over much past the cannon.


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