Grading the Tigers vs Maryland
QUARTERBACKS- Saturday night was a frustrating affair for Woodrow Dantzler, with the Tiger quarterback connecting on 11-22 passes for only 153 yards to go with three interceptions. While Dantzler dazzled with a number of sharp passes when forced out of the pocket, it’s safe to say that the Terrapin defense succeeded in keeping the Clemson superstar under wraps. Redshirt sophomore Willie Simmons showcased his potential with a handful of sharp passes in relief, with the most notable being a 12-yard touchdown toss to Roscoe Crosby.
RUNNINGBACKS- Aside from the first few possessions of the third quarter, the Tiger backs struggled to make plays against a stingy Maryland defense while struggling to help turn back Terrapin blitzes. Seldom-used fullback Chad Jasmin provided the sole bright spot for the Clemson ground game with 35-rugged yards on only five carries.
RECEIVERS- Crosby led an inconsistent Clemson receiving corps with four catches for 61 yards and a touchdown. Critical mistakes such as Derrick Hamilton’s drop that led to Maryland’s third interception and a number of either mistimed or cut-off patterns hampered the Tigers’ offensive effort.
OFFENSIVE LINE- It became clear early in the game that Maryland was determined to make Clemson stop the blitz and, for the most part, the Tigers failed to do so. Both Dantzler and Simmons were consistently pressured while the Terrapins busted a number of running plays up the middle for loss.
DEFENSIVE LINE- The Tiger defensive front was manhandled by the Terrapins, particularly late in the game when Clemson simply couldn’t turn back the Maryland power attack. DE Khaleed Vaughn highlighted an otherwise dismal performance with a quarterback sack and two tackles for loss.
LINEBACKERS- For the most part, Clemson’s linebackers failed to stuff the run and were beaten badly on short passes to the flats.
SECONDARY- At least they’re consistent.
SPECIAL TEAMS- The Clemson special teams provided a beacon of respectability for the Tigers on an otherwise forgettable evening. Aaron Hunt was solid on field goals of 44 and 26 yards while Wynn Kopp’s punting was exceptional. Clemson’s punt and kickoff coverage was tremendous while Derrick Hamilton’s 100-yard kickoff return was clearly the highlight of the game for the Tigers. Despite coming up a yard short on a fake field goal on fourth and nine, Clemson’s overall special teams effort was solid.
COACHING- Offensively, the Tigers appeared both predictable and sluggish for the fourth game in a row. It seems that Clemson struggles to effectively adjust when opposing defenses take away the Tigers’ “bread and butter” plays. Against Maryland, the offense didn’t adapt at the line of scrimmage when the Terrapins showed blitz. As a result, receivers failed to adjust their patterns to compensate for Dantzler’s limited time to get passes off.
Defensively, one can’t help but wonder why the Tigers don’t employ some sort of nickel or dime defensive packages on obvious passing downs for the opposition. Inexperienced or not, it would certainly seem logical that an extra defensive back would be better suited to guard against the pass than a linebacker. At this point, when the Tiger pass defense is clearly the team’s Achilles heel (no pun intended), why not try something different?
Grades: Offense: D- Defense: D-