With No. 3 Clemson off this Saturday and halfway through the season, let’s take a look back at what the Tigers did right and wrong in the first seven games.
Here is how The Clemson Insider graded the Tigers’ offense through seven games.
From a passing standpoint, Deshaun Watson is actually a little ahead of where he was at this time last year. After struggling to start the season, where he completed just 52.9 percent of his passes and had four touchdowns to three interceptions through the first two games, the junior has picked things up the last five weeks. Watson has completed 69 percent of his last 171 passes for 1,106 yards, 16 TDs and five interceptions. For the season, he has completed 63.6 percent of his passes for 1,950 yards, 20 TDs and eight interceptions. But Watson, for whatever the reason, has not been the runner that he was for the Tigers in 2015. Watson has just 279 yards on the ground and has yet to eclipse the century mark in a single game this season. Even more surprising, he has just one rushing touchdown. By this point, we were hoping to see Kelly Bryant take over the spot as the No. 2 quarterback. That has not happened, and though Nick Schuessler has played well in the brief moments he has come in, Bryant should have already taken the No. 2 job away, and since he hasn’t, it does not help the overall grade of the unit. Grade: B
Wayne Gallman has played well this year. He has gone over the 100-yard mark three times this season and leads the team with 489 yards and five rushing touchdowns. He is averaging 5.4 yards per carry, which is exactly what he averaged last year from a per carry standpoint. Gallman has become a three-down back and his blocking in pass protection is as good as anyone’s. He has also become affective in the screen game, with eight receptions for 73 yards. His overall numbers are down, but that has more to do with a head injury against NC State and the fact he had a combined 25 carries in three other games as the coaching staff tried to get other players some work. Gallman had just two carries against the Wolfpack before suffering a concussion. Like at quarterback, the Tigers have a significant drop in production and talent after Gallman. Adam Choice is averaging just 3.1 yards per carry and does not seem like the same runner he was before tearing his ACL in 2014. Tyshon Dye is averaging a modest 4.9 yards per carry, but losing a fumble at the goal line last week does not help with his playing time. C.J. Fuller is running hard and does a good job in pass pro, but he isn’t fast enough to be a major threat to defenses, while freshman Tavien Feaster has shown flashes, he just doesn’t understand everything he has to do in order to be on the field full-time. Grade: B
It has been an up and down first seven games for the wide receivers. Through the first two games, they had 12 drops. When they finally cleaned the drops up, they started fumbling the football. However, the group has been productive overall. Mike Williams leads the team with 39 catches for 578 yards and four touchdowns, while Ray Ray McCloud is second with 32 catches for 332 yards and two scores. Artavis Scott also has two touchdowns, while hauling in 27 passes for 251 yards. Deon Cain has just 15 catches so far, but six of them have gone for touchdowns and he averages 17.0 yards per catch. Hunter Renfrow missed four games with a hand injury, but he has 10 receptions for 175 yards and two touchdowns. Freshman Cornell Powell has shown flashes that he can be a good one with 11 catches for 76 yards. Fellow freshman Diondre Overton has one catch for 45 yards, which went for a touchdown. Grade: B-minus
It’s hard to imagine, but Jordan Leggett had one catch for nine yards the first three weeks of the season. He has since bounced back and in a big way. In the last four games, he has caught 14 passes for 223 yards and three touchdowns. He also had the game-winning catch, which went for 31 yards, in the Tigers win over Louisville on Oct. 1. The other three tight ends –Garrett Williams, Cannon Smith and Milan Richard—have a combined three receptions for 44 yards, but they mostly run block when they come into the game. Graduate tight end Grant Radakovich also has one catch for eight yards. Grade: B-minus
In the first seven games last season, the Tigers went over the 200-yard mark four times, including 416 against Miami. This year, they have not been that consistent. Clemson has rushed for 200 yards or more three times with a high of 230 yards. NC State held the running game to a season-low 117 yards and just 3.0 yards per carry. The Tigers are averaging 4.6 yards per carry, down from last year’s 4.9. However, they have shown flashes they can get it done up front as Louisville and Boston College did not have a single tackle for loss in the running game. Overall, the offensive line is doing a better job of protecting Watson. They have allowed just seven sacks in seven games, two less than the nine they gave up this time last year. Grade: B-minus