Grading the Tigers vs. Furman

by - Correspondent -
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J.J. Howard runs in  a Furman fumble.
J.J. Howard runs in a Furman fumble.


The running game: Less than average. Longest run was 11 yards. I have no doubt that this part of the game is something this team has worked on more so this year than in years past, but the offensive line has a long way to go and it might not make it there before the end of this season. Combine that with Yusef Kelly's disappearance due to being injured and in the doghouse and you wonder if this part of Clemson's game is going to come around. I doubt it will.

The passing game: There were flashes Saturday that made you say "that's how it's supposed to be done." Then there were the same things that make you grimace and say "(&%^%&." It all goes back to play calling here, not the talent of those involved.

The bottom line: This is an offense that, at best, is unsure of itself and its identity. It's an offense that, if left to play the game like kids in a pickup game (that is, without the coaches), would play a lot better, no doubt. Charlie is showing tremendous composure. You can't say enough about his poise. You just hope that those around him pick up on it and rally around him. That will be the offense's quickest path to success if the running game doesn't get turned around.


Against the run: The stats look OK. 94 net yards (151 yards before you take out the negative yardage) is a good day against anyone. What the Paladins did that causes concern is they confused Clemson. Don't think Clemson's future opponents won't start salivating when they see this tape. There were lapses in coverage against the option, especially when Furman threw some misdirection in. You don't see the option every day and it's hard sometimes to get the assignments down. However, it doesn't take an option attack to use the kind of misdirection that Furman used Saturday. If Furman's own runners hadn't mishandled the ball a few times, this could have been a sore spot.

Against the pass: Four sacks when Furman threw the ball just 15 times. That's good news. Clemson is doing most of the right things here. The defense gave up just 80 yards on 10 completions against an option-oriented team.

The bottom line: The defense took a small step backwards. It shouldn't let things like that late hit out of bounds get to it and keep it from doing things that make a defense great. The fumble recovery and return of a TD was a good sign. I predict good things out of this defense this year. John Lovett knows how to coach. Maybe by the end of the year, we'll see him allow the linebackers and safeties to blitz.


Kicking: Tommy Bowden said he's going to give Aaron Hunt one more game and then he'll go to "plan B." Based on past history, Bowden isn't quick to pull a kicker even when things are going as bad as they are for Hunt. Bowden tries to give his players confidence and then hope that translates to success on the field. Hunt, though, has had problems since the spring and Bowden is facing a real problem here if this continues into conference play.

Punting, kicking and kick coverage: Cole Chason is average at best. Maybe a few years down the road he'll improve, but for now he's a punter that rarely turns one over (I don't remember any of his punts doing that yet) so his hang time isn't great. And we won't mention the dropped snap, then again maybe we will. Catching the snap from center to the punter isn't the most difficult thing to accomplish, unless your focus is on a dozen other things. Focus.

The bottom line: There was plenty in the special teams that caused concern Saturday. Not the least of which was Furman laughing at the hit they were able to plant on Justin Miller. Furman did exactly what they were supposed to do on that play, which is act like a bunch of Kamikazes. Clemson would do well to watch that tape a few times and take notes.


Game plan and strategy: The fact that Furman was able to stick with its game plan through the fourth quarter is a sign that Bobby Lamb had Clemson scouted well and wasn't worried about seeing anything he wasn't prepared for. The only shocker was when Charlie threw the 72-yard bomb to Ariese. Otherwise, Clemson averaged 10 yards a catch (that includes William Henry's catch for 5 yards). On offense, the coaches have a take-what-the-defense-gives-us philosophy. Much of what Bowden says after games centers around what the defense did or didn't allow our offense to do because of a certain coverage package. I would rather it center around what our players did despite what they other teams attempted to do to us.

Motivation: See the statement above about the Kamikazes. More of that and less comments from the opposing bench about Clemson playing soft would be better. A I-AA team shouldn't walk off Frank Howard Field with smiles on their faces the way Furman did. Furman came out of the game feeling like, given another chance, they might could win the next battle. And not that it has anything to do with motivation, but you couldn't help but notice that it looked like the players were told that, until the cannon fires, the rug on The Hill is electrically charged and will kill anyone that steps on it. Either that or a group lettermen from the Frank Howard era would beat anyone that stepped on it senseless.


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