By Gray Gardner.
Clemson fell to Miami 30-21 Saturday afternoon in Death Valley. TCI hands out the grades.
Kyle Parker struggled Saturday, to say the least. He only completed 42% of his passes with no touchdowns. He also threw 3 picks and added a fumble to end the game late in the fourth quarter. Most of his throws in the first half were way behind receivers and were uncatchable. He made improvements in the second half but was still ineffective against the Miami defense.
It should be noted that Andre Ellington deserves an A for his performance in this game. He burst through the line for a 71-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. He ended the game with 120 yards on the ground and 39 receiving. Jamie Harper was not so stellar. He danced through the holes instead of running hard and low through tackles and was unable to gain the necessary yardage on short yard situations. He had more carries than Ellington but only gained 59 yards rushing.
WIDE RECEIVER: C-
This is pretty self-explanatory. It’s hard to have success in the passing game when your wide receivers don’t get open. There were a couple of times when the Clemson receivers had opportunities to make plays on tough throws but they just could not produce. The question marks surrounding this group continue to loom.
OFFENSIVE LINE: B-
There was an overall lack of physicality and toughness up front for the Tigers. It resulted in many tackles for a loss and 3 sacks given up. That said, the offensive line did open up some holes for the running backs and gave them room to run. Ellington took advantage of this and had a great game.
DEFENSIVE LINE: B-
Much like the offensive line, the defensive line did not show much swagger Saturday against the Hurricanes. They were blown off the ball on several occasions and gave up 171 yards on the ground. They only recorded 1 sack against Miami quarterback Jacory Harris and pressured him on only a handful of plays. DaQuan Bowers played well with 4.5 tackles for loss and 2 forced fumbles. Rennie Moore added 2 more tackles for loss and the lone sack. The group was otherwise unimpressive.
Where to begin? The core of Clemson’s defensive struggles this season rest on the shoulders of a seemingly incapable linebacking crew. Brandon Maye’s return has been unnoticed and has not helped the situation. This group continues to over pursue plays and miss assignments. Until something changes here teams will continue to have success attacking the middle of the defense both on the ground and through the air.
DEFENSIVE BACK: C-
Busted coverage in the secondary allowed for 2 big pass plays for the Hurricanes Saturday. This is after allowing 2 big plays on busted coverage two weeks ago in Auburn. The question is: when will it be fixed? The defensive backs held strong with the exception of those big plays. They intercepted Jacory Harris twice on key possessions. The problem is that those 2 busted plays ended up being the difference in the game.
SPECIAL TEAMS: B
The return game was not a factor for the Tigers in Saturday’s match up, nor was the kicking game. Punter Dawson Zimmerman continued to play well, averaging 47.8 yards per punt with a long of 57 yards.
COACHING STAFF: C-
The team was not ready for this game, plain and simple. They came out sluggish and did not execute well. The offensive play calling lacked creativity and was just bad on some occasions. The decision to continue playing Jamie Harper over Andre Ellington was ridiculous and probably killed a few offensive drives. In-game adjustments have to be made if the staff wants to be successful. The defense was left with their backs against the wall on several occasions, allowing in several of Miami’s scores. However, Kevin Steele has to find a way to make up for his lack of talent at linebacker if he wants to have a dominating defense.