By Gray Gardner.
Time to hand out the TCI grades for the Tiger’s win over Georgia Tech.
Kyle Parker continued to improve after his injury at Auburn weeks ago. It is obvious that he is gradually getting better week-by-week. Saturday he completed 17 of 27 passes for 167 yards and a touchdown. His passing accuracy was improved, showing a lot of finesse on a couple of jump balls to his receivers. Parker’s consistent success in the short passing game also helped in opening up the run for his backs.
RUNNING BACK: A+
It’s hard not to give the backs an A+ after their performance Saturday, most especially Andre Ellington’s. Ellington had a career high 166 yards on the ground and averaged 8.3 yards per carry. He finished with 3 touchdowns – 2 rushing and 1 receiving. Jamie Harper finished with 56 yards rushing and 38 receiving. Harper showed improvement in running hard downfield rather than dancing in the hole and continued to be a factor in the passing game.
WIDE RECEIVER: B
With the exception of DeAndre Hopkin’s incredible one-handed catch down the sideline, the receiving corps overall did not impress with flashiness and big plays. Where they did impress was in their improved consistency catching the ball and getting yards after the catch. They did a great job of blocking on the outside and helping the offense have success in the running game.
OFFENSIVE LINE: B+
Any success in the running game has to warrant praise for the offensive line. The Tigers’ line played hard and was physical at the point of attack, moving defenders and opening holes for the backs. The running backs averaged 6.2 yards per rush thanks to the line’s success up front. They did not allow sack and only allowed 2 quarterback hurries.
DEFENSIVE LINE: A
The defensive line seemed to be in the backfield all day. That comes as no surprise, though, considering this group’s success every game this season. DaQuan Bower’s had 2.5 tackles for loss while Kourtnei Brown and Malliciah Goodman each had 1. Bowers also recorded a sack, inching him closer to Clemson’s single season record. The defensive line broke up Georgia Tech’s option play on a consistent basis, holding quarterback Joshua Nesbitt to a meager 2 yards on 15 carries.
There were several plays where the linbackers completely over-pursued Tech’s run. Most of running back Anthony Allen’s success came from runs right up the middle where Clemson’s linebackers were nowhere to be found. Georgia Tech also found a hole in the defense in the linebackers’ ability to cover in the passing game. Anthony Allen beat Corico Hawkins badly on a short out route for the Yellow Jackets lone touchdown. With those exceptions, the group did show some signs of improvement in stopping the outside option and run game. They did enough as a position group to hold Paul Johnson’s offense from running wild, which is a success for any defense.
DEFENSIVE BACK: A
The defensive backs did not have much work in coverage Saturday against the Yellow Jackets, but when they did, they excelled. Jonathan Meeks made a couple of big hits from the secondary and broke up a pass that resulted in an interception by DeAndre McDaniel. They only allowed 6 completions in the passing game, some of which were breakdowns in coverage from other position groups. The corners and safeties also helped a lot in stopping the run on the outside and preventing Anthony Allen from breaking a big run up the middle.
SPECIAL TEAMS: B-
Clemson’s special teams were far from excellent Saturday. However, they did put some points on the board and prevented Georgia Tech’s return teams from making big plays. Chandler Catanzaro connected on 2 out of 3 field goals from 21 and 38 yards out. Andre Ellington fumbled on a kickoff return but ended up recovering the ball at the bottom of the pile. Marcus Gilchrist had two pretty good punt returns that put the Tigers’ offense in good field position.
COACHING STAFF: B+
The staff had the team well prepared for Saturday’s game against Georgia Tech. The offense moved the ball well and effectively ran all over the Yellow Jackets’ defense. Clemson’s defense had tremendous success stopping Tech’s running attack, only allowing 242 yards to a team that has averaged 328 yards a game on the ground. The defense forced fumbles and swarmed around the ball. Overall the team played with a lot of enthusiasm and excitement and executed well. This is a reflection of the coaches’ job well done in practice last week.