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Congrats to the boys for winning the regional and advancing to the super regionals. The performance this past weekend was nothing less than spectacular and exactly what we have come to expect from this team.
The best thing I saw all weekend was how the Tigers answered Mississippi State in the championship game. Each time the Bulldogs scored Clemson answered in their next at-bat. This team has character and showed guts in that contest after falling behind.
The only negative I saw was the umpire calling balls and strikes in the final game. I can honestly say it reminded me of the game at the fair where the ball is bigger than the clowns mouth you are trying to throw the ball through. The strike zone was about the size of the period at the end of this sentence. If the strike zone were always called that tight I would become a soccer fan. It took away from a wonderful weekend. Quite frankly the home plate umpire, Kelly Gonzalez, should be ashamed of himself.
The Tigers played great defense again. D.J. Mitchell has an incredible arm and covers a lot of ground. This is the best defensive outfield Clemson has had in years in my opinion. Taylor Harbin continued to play exceptionally well in the field.
Sean Clark’s relief effort on Saturday was simply amazing. I am one that hopes he will come back next season and battle for a starting spot on the weekend.
According to the Clemson SID office, it was a complete performance. Clemson defeated each of the other three teams once, as it outscored them 24-9 in three games. Clemson hit .323 with a .410 on-base percentage and nine stolen bases. The team also hit eight doubles, a triple, and six home runs, and committed just two errors in the field. The pitching staff had a 3.00 ERA and .170 opponents' batting average. It allowed just two extra-base hits in the tournament.
I never want to wish any day away but I am really looking forward to the upcoming series with Oral Roberts.
We begin wide receivers week by taking an in-depth look at the Clemson wide outs. I believe this is the most complete group of receivers the Tigers have had in recent years. They do not have a dominant guy like Rod Gardner but they have depth and talent. This group should benefit from a strong running game as the play-action passing game should be better in 2006.
Dabo Swinney has every aspect a coach could ask for in one of the receivers. Chansi Stuckey is the open-field guy. He can make you miss and can turn a short pass into a long gain. Rendrick Taylor is a big play guy as well but he is a big body that can be a great third down option. Aaron Kelly can play jump ball on the fade routes and can be a deep threat. If speed is what you are looking for than look no further than Jacoby Ford. Tyler Grisham is the sure-handed guy that can be very dependable. In some days in the spring Andrew Diamonde looked like the Tigers best overall receiver.
Stuckey (6-0, 190, Sr) had a nice junior season with 64 catches for 770 yards and four scores. He was named All-ACC last year and could have a bigger season in this offense. The Georgia native is also a leader on this team and a special teams force. Stuckey will need to turn short gains into big plays in 2006.
Taylor (6-1, 225, So) is just a beast. As a true freshman Taylor had just nine receptions for 69 yards but he could have that in one game this season. This spring he emerged as the Tigers most complete receiver and I think he is in store a huge season. Taylor is the group’s best blocker as well. Look for Rob Spence to get him involved much more in 2006.
Kelly (6-5, 185, So) enjoyed a fantastic red-shirt freshman campaign with 47 catches for 575 yards and two touchdowns. His incredible touchdown against FSU showed Tiger coaches more of his potential. Kelly can be a deep threat and also made more people miss after the catch than I had anticipated. Like Taylor, Kelly has a very high ceiling.
Someone please tell me the last time you saw Grisham (5-10, 175, So) drop a pass. He is yet another rising sophomore that should see his numbers from a year ago (10-101-0) improve drastically in 2006. This is a player that runs better than most think and a player that can be counted on every down.
Ford (5-9, 175, Fr) has Jerry Butler or Airese Currie-type speed. This prep school star made his mark very early in spring practice. His early enrollment gives him a much greater role in this offense. Look for Spence to find ways for Ford to get his touches. Ford stretches the field and his speed makes it easier on everyone else.
Diamonde (6-1, 205, So) continues to improve everyday. The staff knew he was going to be a few years away when they signed him but Diamonde has not disappointed. He continues to develop as he gets reps and now has emerged as a guy who will see significant action this season.
LaDonte Harris (5-11, 180, Jr) Jeffrey Ogren (6-3, 185, Fr) and Kendrick Johnson (6-2, 170, Fr) round out the receiving corps. Harris has been fairly steady and Ogren and Johnson could red-shirt this season.
In summary this is a deep and talented receiving corps that is also very young. This is also the best group of receivers Swinney has had to work with his tenure at Clemson.
Golf Finishes Seventh
Larry Penley’s golf team got back into the top 10 this past weekend with a seventh place finish at the NCAA championships. It was nice to see the program headed back in the right direction and with two superstar freshman coming in next season the future once again appears very bright. Penley deserves credit for building this program to its status as a national power but the addition of Jordan Byrd as the assistant coach has also helped.
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