Each week TheClemsonInsider.com will bring you some of the new and notes we picked up while watching the game from the sidelines. What did we see Saturday afternoon in the Valley?
First let me say I was very impressed with the crowd Saturday afternoon in the Valley. Considering the opponent and the economy the number of fans wearing orange that filled Death Valley Saturday was very impressive.
The student body did a great job Saturday. They filled the hill nicely before kickoff and were very vocal during the game. One of the better students sections I have seen at Clemson for this type of game in a long time. The loudest cheer in the second half was “we want Tacos” as Clemson got close to the 28 point mark.
Coach Swinney and the players talked a lot last week about how they only play 12 games and need to bring a certain energy level to each game. There seemed to be a lack of emotion during Saturday’s content. We saw some after scores and some on defense when there were big plays, but for the majority of the afternoon the Tigers’ lacked emotion. Some of that could be due to the opponent, but as the staff preached last week they only play 12 games, so the energy level needs to be high each week. The team looked flat and needs to come out with more energy next week.
Jarvis Jenkins came to play on Saturday. He lived in the Mean Green backfield and showed that he could have a huge senior season. Jarvis has slimmed down some since 2009 and showed great power and quickness .
Bowers was very focused when on the field. He had a couple of sacks that he would not have made last year. He stayed with the play and kept the motor running to get the sacks.
One of the problems that we saw last year continued to be a problem on Saturday. The defense up the middle was poor at times. Clemson missed a number of tackles up the middle and allowed North Texas to live off passes over the middle and runs up the middle.
The return game is in good hands with Marcus Gilchrist. He will not score as many touchdowns on returns this season as Spiller of course, but he will give the Tigers good field position when he gets his hands on the ball. Marcus showed Saturday why he was an All-American coming out of High Point, North Carolina.
The Tigers need to pressure the punter more than they did on Saturday. Goodman almost had one block, but there were several times when the punter had a low snap, but the Tigers were not bringing pressure.
Did anyone else think the Tigers were on their way to a blowout after Ellington took the second play from scrimmage 60 yards. We all heard in the offseason how we wouldn’t see the 50/60 yard scoring plays as frequently as last year, but that we would see more 20/30 yard plays. After the second play of the game many on the field wondered if the Tigers wouldn’t miss a beat. With the long runs by Ellington and Harper along with the long pass to Clear it looks like the Tigers could be a quick strike team again this year at times. The running game is certainly in good hands with Ellington and Harper.
Jamie Harper picked up where he left off last season. Harper played wall late in the season last year and led the critical drive in the Music City Bowl win. The hard hitting running back was one of the players Saturday who seemed to give great effort on every play. He ran over linebackers and defensive backs on several plays, including the touchdown catch late in the first half.
Kudos to the offensive line for their performance in game 1. We didn’t see a lot of penalties that teams see sometimes early in the year. The offensive line blocked well most of the day. They didn’t give up any sacks and opened plenty of holes as the Tigers rushed for 246 yards. Had the defense played better the offense could have easily hit the 600 yard mark and put more points on the board.
Spencer Shuey looked impressive on several plays Saturday. He brings a load when he hits you. Shuey showed that he will be a very good special team’s player for the Tigers on coverage and also made some plays at the Mike linebacker position.
We will catchup with the recruits in town today and this week. It did look like A.J. Johnson was enjoying himself before the game. Dorman junior offensive lineman Patrick Destefano also seemed to really enjoy the visit to the Valley.