Grading the Tigers vs. North Carolina St
Dantzler is still on pace for the first ever 2000 yd passing- 1000 yd rushing season in NCAA D1 history..
QUARTERBACK- For the second-straight week, Woodrow Dantzler the runner
was effective (103 yards on 25 carries) while Woodrow Dantzler the passer struggled.
Despite connecting on a respectable 18-30 attempts for 220 yards and a touchdown,
Dantzler was intercepted twice and failed to hit open receivers on numerous
occasions. Regardless, the athletic junior continues to thrill and the Tigers
RUNNING BACKS- Travis Zachery turned in arguably his best all-around
performance in a Clemson uniform against the Wolfpack. The junior tailback rushed
for 146 yards and two touchdowns while pulling in two passes for 29 yards and
first half touchdown. Perhaps most importantly, Zachery has quietly continued
to provide superb blocking for Dantzler on both running and passing plays.
RECEIVERS- Rod Gardner finally broke out with his first monster game
of the season. The 6-3 senior hauled in 10 passes for 137 yards while coming
through on a number of critical third-down plays for the Tigers. Matt Bailey
has evolved into an attractive option for Dantzler while Jackie Robinson continues
to be a threat on quick-hitting passes.
OFFENSIVE LINE- The Clemson offensive line consistently opened sizable
holes for both Zachery and Dantzler against NC State as the Tigers racked up
273 yards rushing on an incredible 64 attempts. And you thought Clemson was
a passing team.
DEFENSIVE LINE- Nick Eason, Terry Jolly, Terry Bryant and company deserve
loads of credit for an extremely effective showing against the Wolfpack. Clemson
held NC State runner to a mere 32 yards on 23 carries and continually harassed
quarterback Phillip Rivers. In short, this unit anchored the Tiger defense for
most of the afternoon.
SECONDARY- On second and five with 12:07 left in the fourth quarter and
the Tigers leading 34-20, Rivers stepped back in the pocket and fired a 63-yard
touchdown strike to a streaking Koren Robinson, cutting the Clemson lead to
seven and effectively changing the shape of the game. The fact is that this
play should have never happened. Cornerback Darrell Crutchfield inexcusably
allowed Robinson to jet past him at a time when the Tiger secondary should have
been particularly focused on preventing the big play. While it is critical not
to overlook the heroics of Alex Ardley and Charles Hafley, Clemson can't afford
to make mental mistakes in the defensive backfield at critical points of the
LINEBACKERS- Following Ray Robinson's 81-yard touchdown catch on the
third play from scrimmage, defensive coordinator Reggie Herring could be seen
on the Clemson sideline in the face of linebacker Keith Adams. As it was, Robinson
was Adams' responsibility on the play, and when the junior decided to sell out
and rush the passer, the NC State running back was left alone in the flat. That
play aside, Adams was his usual dominating self, recording three tackles for
loss and a number of quarterback pressures. Backup Rodney Thomas and starters
Braxton K. Williams and Chad Carson also contributed to the Tigers' swarming
run defense with a combined three tackles behind the Wolfpack line of scrimmage.
SPECIAL TEAMS- Joe Don Reames continued his solid play as the Tiger punt
returner with a nifty 15-yard burst against NC State. Once again, field goal
kicking has become a major problem for Tommy Bowden as Aaron Hunt missed a PAT
and had a 35-yard kick blocked late in the game. It appears that Tony Lazzara
will take over the kicking duties against Maryland, although one can help but
wonder when walk on Bo Charpia might get a shot. Charpia has looked impressive
in practice and he performed well in the Tigers' spring game but has yet to
have an opportunity in a game.
COACHING- Chuck Amato and his staff deserve credit for taking advantage
of the 16 days they had to prepare for their trip to Death Valley. The Wolfpack
is a tough, resilient team that gave Bowden and the Tigers their first truly
tough test of the season. Chances are that last year's Clemson team would have
lost this game, but the fact is that the Tigers of 2000 are a team filled with
a sense of confidence that should only continue to blossom as the season progresses.
This wasn't the Clemson coaches' best strategic performance, but the entire
staff deserves credit for the dramatic improvements the team has made in terms
of mental toughness.
Grades: Offense- B+ Defense- C+