By Gray Gardner.
Time to hand out the grades for the Tiger’s 14-13 victory over NC State.
QUARTERBACK: C +
Kyle Parker completed just under 70% of his passes Saturday for 214 yards. He threw 2 touchdown passes – 1 of which was called back by a holding penalty. His accuracy and overall decision making was improved from a week ago but he still struggled with turnovers. He fumbled 2 times, losing 1. Parker also threw an interception. His performance in the second half was critical to the Tigers come from behind victory.
RUNNING BACK: B
Jamie Harper replaced injured star Andre Ellington Saturday, rushing for 70 yards on 25 carries. The run game was not effective for the Clemson offense, but Harper showed improvement in running hard even when a hole wasn’t open. He also scored the winning touchdown for the Tigers on a 3-yard run with just over 6 minutes left in the game.
WIDE RECEIVER: B
Marquan Jones and DeAndre Hopkins both had a great against the Wolfpack. Jones caught 6 balls for 47 yards while Hopkins caught 5 for 90 yards and a touchdown. Bryce McNeal also had a good game getting open and catching the ball, including a touchdown reception that was called back by a holding penalty. This group showed much improvement from games past.
OFFENSIVE LINE: D
Parker was sacked on 3 consecutive plays, one of which resulted in a turnover. Two of those plays were obvious passing downs in a 2-minute situation, but still – there’s never any excuse to give up a sack. The Tigers’ offense averaged only 1.1 yards per run Saturday, a number that is almost laughable and is directly correlated to the offensive line’s play. This group has to improve in execution in toughness.
DEFENSIVE LINE: A
The defensive line received a game ball for their performance in Saturday’s game. DaQuan Bowers continued to show off with 2 tackles for loss and 2 sacks. Andre Branch and Rennie Moore had a sack each as well as several quarterback hurries. The Wolfpack running game totaled only 63 yards on the ground. This group continues to impress and remain the strength of the team.
Although there were several times when the linebackers allowed receivers to get open in the middle of the field and in the flats, the group did a better job overall of containing the run and the pass. Russell Wilson was allowed to scramble for a run of 27 yards, but other than that was ineffective as a runner. Corico Hawkins led the team with 9 tackles and 1 forced fumble. This was probably the best this group has played all season.
DEFENSIVE BACKS: B+
This group held Russell Wilson’s passing game into check, allowing only 213 yards through the air. Wilson completed only 3 passes longer than 20 yards, his lone touchdown coming from a 3-yard pass in the flats. DeAndre McDaniel intercepted a pass, and Marcus Gilchrist and Rashard Hall each had over 6 tackles.
SPECIAL TEAMS: D
There were two redeeming qualities of the special teams’ performance: Dawson Zimmerman’s game saving catch and punt on a bad snap late in the game and Jarvis Jenkins’ blocked field goal. Richard Jackson’s 2 missed field goals tanked this group’s grade.
COACHING STAFF: C
Clemson’s defensive staff was well prepared. Kevin Steel’s gameplan worked extremely well in preventing Russell Wilson from having a break out game. Successful adjustments were made throughout the game to mess up the Wolpack’s offensive rhythm.
Offensively the staff continued to show signs of incompetence. The playcalling was less predictable than weeks past, but still lacked the creativity and variability that great offenses exhibit. The offensive line’s play has gotten worse as the season has gone on and the running game has been completely ineffective. Many affiliated with the team say Clemson has a “balanced” offense. To me, that’s just an excuse for an offense that lacks identity.
Still, the team ended the day with a win (ugly as it was), and that has to be accredited to the coaching staff.