QUARTERBACK- Woodrow Dantzler’s effort against Florida State was solid but not spectacular, with the senior quarterback connecting on 22-40 passes for 277 yards and one interception while rushing for only 59 yards on 22 carries. On a number of plays where the Tiger pass protection was more than adequate, Dantzler held on to the ball for too long and was sacked- a factor that helped greatly diminish his final rushing tally.
RUNNINGBACKS- In his first game as the Tigers’ primary back, Bernard Rambert ripped through the Seminole line of 67 yards on eleven carries. While Rambert has yet to match Travis Zachery’s pass-catching prowess, the Summerville junior provides an explosive alternative to Zachery’s more deliberate running style.
RECEIVERS- It was clear from the outset of Saturday’s game that Clemson wanted to try and beat Florida State on short routes underneath. While this plan of attack fizzled for a good part of the afternoon, Derrick Hamilton again showed exceptional ability on shorter routes, with the freshman receiver hauling in a team-high seven passes for 88 yards. On the rare occasions that the Tigers chose to throw down the field, both Roscoe Crosby and J.J. McKelvey came through with a combined three catches for 96 yards.
OFFENSIVE LINE- Aside from a few late-game lapses, the Tiger offensive line performed admirably against the Seminoles. For much of the day, Dantzler had adequate time in the pocket. When the Tiger quarterback was sacked, it was often after he was unable to find an open receiver. Clemson’s respectable 186-yard rushing output can largely be attributed to effective run blocking.
DEFENSIVE LINE- The Clemson defensive front was reasonably effective in plugging the middle of the line against the run. Against the pass, the Tigers did manage to pressure Seminole quarterback Chris Rix with surprising regularity.
LINEBACKERS- While tough against the inside run, the Tiger linebackers lost outside containment on a number of occasions, with Seminole running back Greg Jones’ 51-yard touchdown burst on a critical third and one play being the most significant.
SECONDARY- It would be difficult to find a more fundamentally poor and undisciplined defensive backfield than Clemson’s in all of college football. Brian Mance’s two interceptions against Florida State did little to overshadow another roundly inept performance by the Tiger secondary.
SPECIAL TEAMS- An initially brilliant special teams play turned sour by penalty effectively reversed the game’s momentum at a critical juncture of the first half. Rambert’s touchdown run off a fake punt might not have changed the final outcome had it counted, but it certainly would have made for a much more compelling fourth quarter.
COACHING- Offensively, the Tigers appeared determined to beat Florida State with a variety of short passes underneath. Interestingly enough, two of the Tigers’ longest offensive plays of the day (29-yard pass to Crosby, 51-yard strike to McKelvey) occurred when the coaches elected to throw downfield. In the end, however, 463 yards of total offense and 27 points is a respectable tally against an athletic Florida State defense. Under normal circumstances, such numbers would add up to a Clemson victory. Of course, when a defense allows the opposition 557 yards and 41 points, such logic falls out the window. With the usual array of excuses in tow, the Tiger defense again proved unable to stop the forward pass. Granted, the Clemson defensive backs are inexperienced and have been banged up, but getting repeatedly beaten on the same type of plays during the course of the season indicates that this unit is simply not learning from its mistakes. Ultimately, this falls on coaching, whether it be adapting the defensive scheme or simply instilling the basic fundamentals necessary to put an end to the weekly routine of committing the same coverage errors over and over. In short, it is more than evident that a change has to be made.
Grades: Offense- B- Defense- F