Grading the Tigers vs Virginia
QUARTERBACK- Rumor has it that Woodrow Dantzler skipped the team bus
ride out of Charlottesville so he could go ahead and run through the rest of
Virginia. Thanks largely to the efforts of the junior quarterback, the Tigers
find themselves ranked 5th nationally in rushing offense as they prepare to
take on a sickly Duke squad this Saturday.
RUNNING BACKS- While Travis Zachery and Bernard Rambert combined for
a respectable 100 yards rushing against Virginia, it seems that the Clemson
tailback duo forgot one key thing as they ripped through the Cavalier line:
the football. Despite the turnovers, the Tigers were still able to dominate
against Virginia. Don't expect other opponents to be so forgiving.
OFFENSIVE LINE- Dantzler is great, but without excellent blocking up front,
he would just become average. With 327 yards rushing and no quarterback sacks
allowed, the Clemson offensive line truly paved the way for a spectacular offensive
performance. A lack of attention comes with the territory, but it's time that
this unit starts getting its due.
RECEIVERS- Matt Bailey looked sharp against Virginia after missing the
Tigers' previous two games with a groin injury. Bailey led Clemson with 64 yards
on four receptions while Rod Gardner hauled in four passes and Jackie Robinson
snagged the Tigers' only touchdown pass of the afternoon. Perhaps most importantly,
the Clemson receivers provided Dantzler with spectacular downfield blocking.
DEFENSIVE LINE- Despite a slow start, the Clemson defensive line came
on strong in the second half, effectively shutting down the run and consistently
pressuring Virginia quarterback Dan Ellis. Not a spectacular day, but a solid
LINEBACKERS- Braxton K. Williams was huge against Virginia with five
unassisted tackles, one sack, a tackle for loss, and two passes broken up. Keith
Adams' sack of Ellis in the first quarter forced the Cavaliers to settle for
a field goal while his presence in the Virginia backfield led to a number of
SECONDARY- Darrell Crutchfield may have been burned a few times on Saturday
but he came up big when it counted, breaking up two passes, including one in
the third quarter that led to an Alex Ardley interception. When Virginia runners
broke into the secondary, the sure tackling of Charles Hafley and Robert Carswell
effectively quelled any possibilities of a big play.
SPECIAL TEAMS- The Good: Joe Don Reaves' spectacular 69-yard punt return
for touchdown; Jamie Somaini's booming punts (50.3-yard average on three attempts).
The Bad: Clemson's kickoff coverage that allowed nearly 30 yards per return,
including a 45-yard burst by Virginia's Tavon Mason; Aaron Hunt's 34-yard missed
field goal to end the first half. The Ugly: Travis Zachery's critical fumble
of a Mike Abrams punt that led to Virginia's first and only touchdown.
COACHING- It would be hard to find fault in Clemson's offensive or defensive
game plans. Offensively, Rich Rodriguez did an excellent job of keeping the
Cavaliers off-balance, and when Dantzler started to find his groove, the offensive
staff certainly made it work to their advantage. Defensively, the Tigers stiffened
at critical times despite being put in some unfavorable positions thanks to
turnovers. In short, without four giveaways, this game would have been an even
greater Tiger rout.
Grades: Offense: A/ Defense: A