By Game Grades.
The Tigers moved to 4-0 on the season with a 35-30 victory over Florida State Saturday in Death Valley.
How did the Tigers grade out in the game? Time for TCI to grade the performance of the Tigers.
Tajh Boyd has improved each week since starting his first game against Troy earlier this month. Saturday versus Florida State was no exception. Boyd completed 22 of 35 passes for 344 yards and 3 touchdowns and ran for another in leading his team to victory. Boyd received ACC Player of the Week honors for his performance. Boyd’s grade would have been even higher if not for a few misplaced throws that could have led to turnovers and a fumble that was returned for a touchdown. Besides those plays, Tajh Boyd was outstanding for the fourth week in a row.
There wasn’t much room to run on Saturday against Florida State’s talented defensive front. Andre Ellington managed to run for only 74 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries. The Tigers offense only averaged 2 yards per rush – a number that is much more indicative of the battle up front than the talent of those running the ball.
WIDE RECEIVER: A+
It goes without saying – this group is talented. Sammy Watkins stole the show again with 7 receptions for 141 yards and 2 touchdowns, earning him ACC Player of the Week honors for the second week in a row. DeAndre Hopkins followed suit with 5 catches for 78 yards. Dwayne Allen added 4 receptions for 67 yards and a score, including a diving grab on a third down that allowed the Tigers to hold on and win late in the game.
OFFENSIVE LINE: B-
This could be considered generous, given the offense’s inability to run the ball Saturday. Throw 2 sacks allowed into the mix and you have a case against the Tigers offensive line. And while those are certainly important factors that need correcting, they did not cause the game to be as close as it was. In fact, when it mattered, Clemson’s offensive front held strong and proved clutch. But as always, there’s room for improvement.
DEFENSIVE LINE: B
Florida State only attempted to run the ball 15 times, so the defensive front’s primary focus was pass rush. For the most part, the group did well creating pressure up front. Brandon Thompson has been a terror inside this season, and was again on Saturday. He finished the day with a sack. His counterpart Rennie Moore made what might be the play of the game, sacking Seminole quarterback Clint Trickett to seal the victory for the Tigers.
This grade is largely due to Quandon Christian’s outstanding interception in the first half. Clemson’s linebackers were not much of a factor in Saturday’s game, considering FSU’s pass heavy offensive attack. The Tigers’ linebackers were not impressive in pass coverage, other than Christian’s play, and continued to miss tackles. They will have to continue to grow as the season continues.
DEFENSIVE BACKS: C
It seems like big plays are being made every week against this Clemson secondary. Whether it’s a missed assignment or a corner just flat out getting beat deep, Kevin Steele has not been able to scheme-away the deep ball. Florida State had much success against the Tigers in the passing game, completing 24 of 38 passes for 336 yards and 3 scores. On the bright side, these players are young and are getting great game experience. But they have a long way to go to help Clemson’s defense this season.
SPECIAL TEAMS: C
Another missed field goal by kicker Chandler Catanzaro is all it takes to drop the special teams grade this low. “Cat-man” has been anything but consistent, and it could be time for a change. Punter Dawson Zimmerman left the game early after suffering an injury on a nasty hit on a punt. His replacement – Spencer Benton – did well when given the chance, but still was no Zimmerman.
COACHING STAFF: B+
They won. At the end of the day, that’s what matters. The team came out and executed from the get-go, firing on all cylinders on offense. Chad Morris has been impressive, even though the first year staffer says he’s only used 60% of his offensive scheme. There is a bright future for Clemson’s offense.
The Clemson defense continues to struggle, but impressed by holding strong when the team needed it most. The secondary has been less than average in pass coverage, and missed tackles continue to plague the group. Even so, Kevin Steele’s defense kept the Seminoles from scoring more than the Tigers, and that’s what matters most.