Game Grades this week are relative to the opponent faced. The expectation against a team like Presbyterian is dominance and considering the results from Saturday’s match up, I’d say Clemson did well to meet expectations.
Kyle Parker completed 21 of 35 passes and finished with 277 yards and 2 scores through the air Saturday night. He also showed a lot of toughness in battling through soreness and injury in the second half. With the exception of a couple of key misfired passes, Parker played well enough to lead his team to victory.
Andre Ellington and Jamie Harper proved that they are more than capable of replacing CJ Spiller. Together they amassed 200 yards rushing – 141 of which from Ellington alone. The duo also left their mark in the passing game. Ellington had 4 receptions for 48 yards while Harper tallied 3 catches for 48 yards and 2 touchdowns. Who can forget Harper’s highlight-reel diving catch in the endzone?
This group showed that they can make plays when needed. Marquan Jones and Xavier Dye each made catches at crucial parts of the game. Tight end Dwayne Allen had 5 receptions for 66 yards. There were a few dropped balls, resulting in missed opportunities for big plays, but overall this group played very well.
OFFENSIVE LINE: B
The Clemson offensive line controlled the first half of the game. Kyle Parker was given plenty of time to throw in the pocket and running backs Andre Ellington and Jamie Harper were given wide-open holes to run. After the half, Auburn’s defensive line increased the pressure on Clemson’s offensive backs. Kyle Parker was hit in the backfield on almost every pass play in the second half and overtime. Overall, the Tigers’ offensive line was physical and showed a lot of toughness.
DEFENSIVE LINE: A
It seemed like defensive end DaQuan Bowers was in the backfield every play. He recorded 3 tackles for a loss and assisted on a sack while also hurrying the quarterback 2 times. The rest of the defensive line was right there with him. They created a surge on every down and dominated Auburn’s offensive line.
For much of the game Clemson’s linebackers were in position and prevented Cameron Newton from breaking free through the middle of the defense. However, the second half showed the group’s inexperience as Auburn’s running game flourished. Overall, the linebacking crew played well enough to win but still has room for improvement.
DEFENSIVE BACK: B+
With the exception of a couple of big plays on busted coverage, the Tigers’ defensive backs played well. They forced several pass break ups and did well to help on run defense when needed. Xavier Brewer and DeAndre McDaniel each had big plays with interceptions.
SPECIAL TEAMS: C+
The reasoning here should be fairly obvious. The field goal unit had one job to do and failed to do it. Other special teams units played well enough to win.
COACHING STAFF: B+
The team was ready to play Saturday night. They were prepared schematically and played an extremely physical game. However, they were not prepared to finish the game after the half. The blame is not on the coaches entirely, but they have to do a better job of getting the team ready to play four quarters and not just three in the future.