Making the Grade: Tigers flunk at Syracuse

Making the Grade: Tigers flunk at Syracuse

Football

Making the Grade: Tigers flunk at Syracuse

It was not a good night for Clemson this past Friday night in Syracuse. Defensive end Clelin Ferrell said the loss was on all on three phases of the game and The Clemson Insider’s grades from the Tigers’ 27-24 loss definitely reflect it.

Coaches: Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney took ownership for not having his football team ready to play. He said his team was outcoached and outplayed. He said Syracuse came ready to play and his team did not and that is on him. Swinney’s decision to play quarterback Kelly Bryant backfired because he tweaked his ankle again and now has a concussion. Defensive coordinator Brent Venables also took ownership for how the defense played in giving up a season-high 440 yards and 27 points. Co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott even admitted to the offense panicking some on Friday night. Grade: F

Quarterback: Considering Bryant played hurt, and the fact he was unable to run at all, he threw the football well. He completed 12-of-17 passes for 116 yards including a 24-yard pass to tight end Milan Richard, the only deep ball Clemson threw the entire game. Backup Zerrick Cooper did miss on two throws to Hunter Renfrow that would have gone for big gains and could have changed the outcome, but he did do what was asked and did not turn the football over. He completed 10-of-14 passes for 88 yards. Grade: B

Running back: The Tigers averaged 4.5 yards per carry. So why did the Tigers’ run the ball just 25 times?  Travis Etienne averaged 13.6 yards per carry, while Tavien Feaster averaged 8.1 yards per carry. Both also ripped off long touchdown runs. Adam Choice also ran hard when he was in the game. The only negative was Etienne missed on a block that led to a sack, which pushed Clemson back when it was in the red zone and led to a missed field goal. Grade: B

Pass catchers: Seven different players caught at least one pass. Renfrow was amazing, again, making two amazing catches in the second half. He finished the game with a team-high 64 yards on five catches. Deon Cain caught a game-high seven passes for 55 yards, but he dropped one pass and had a missed assignment on another play that caused Swinney to lay into him on the sideline. Ray-Ray McCloud caught four passes for 23 yards. However, he did put the ball on the ground one time, but fortunately for the Tigers Renfrow was in the right place at the right time and recovered the loose ball. Grade: C

Offensive line: The Tigers running game averaged 4.5 yards per carry, which was good. However, Clemson quarterbacks were sacked four times and three can be charged to the offensive line. Also, left tackle Mitch Hyatt was charged for a holding call that got the Tigers’ behind the chains and ended a potential scoring drive. Grade: D

Defensive line: This was without a doubt the worst performance the defensive line played in a while. Syracuse rushed for 162 yards and on the game’s final drive, the Cuse ran the ball right down their throat and the Tigers could not stop it. It also did not help that Christian Wilkins and Austin Bryant were called for roughing the passer penalties on third down that allowed Syracuse to extend drives. One penalty caused the Orange to flip field position and the other led to a ‘Cuse touchdown. The positives up front were the play of Clelin Ferrell, who had 5.5 tackles behind the line of scrimmage and 3.5 sacks in a losing effort, had nine tackles, while Dexter Lawrence had 9 tackles as well. Grade: F

Linebackers: Kendall Joseph led the Tigers with 12 tackles, while Dorian O’Daniel had 10 tackles. However, both linebackers got lost at times in coverage and there were several times O’Daniel got washed out in the garbage or went the wrong way when trying to spy on Syracuse Quarterback Eric Dungey. Grade: D

Secondary: Other than Tanner Muse’s 63-yard fumble return for a touchdown, the secondary did very little right. Clemson had pass interference penalties, busted coverages, got burned on double moves. The secondary looked awful at times and it was not just one guy. It was a collective effort. Grade: F

Special teams: Alex Spence missed two field goals for 35 and 39 yards. Then Will Spiers decided to throw the ball on a fake punt when Clemson could have pinned the Orange inside their 10-yard line on the final drive instead of at its own 41. It was a disappointing ending for Spiers who averaged 42.8 yards per punt and had three kicks downed inside the 20-yard line. Grade: D

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