CFN Take: Clemson, Watson Run By USC
Clemson Tigers 2014 ...
Head Coach: Dabo Swinney
2014 Clemson Tigers
Nov. 29 at Clemson 35, South Carolina 17
2014 Schedule |
Aug. 30 at Georgia L 45-21
Sep. 6 South Carolina St W 73-7
Sep. 13 OPEN DATE
Sep. 20 at Florida St L 23-17 OT
Sep. 27 North Carolina W 50-35
Oct. 4 NC State W 41-0
Oct. 11 Louisville W 23-17
Oct. 18 at Boston Coll W 17-13
Oct. 25 Syracuse W 16-6
Nov. 1 OPEN DATE
Nov. 6 at Wake Forest W 34-20
Nov. 15 at Georgia Tech L 28-6
Nov. 22 Georgia State W 28-0
Nov. 29 South Carolina
And You Care Because … Deshaun Watson ran for two touchdowns and threw for two more, hitting Artavis Scott for a scored from 53 and 70 yards out, with the second scoring play helping Clemson pull away in the third quarter. South Carolina scored first on a 20-yard Pharoh Cooper run, but the Tigers went on a run as Watson ran for a one-yard score and Wayne Gallman ran for a five-yard score. The Gamecocks only managed a 47-yard Elliott Fry field goal and a 12-yard Damiere Byrd touchdown catch the rest of the way.
What Else? Clemson QB Deshaun Watson completed 14-of-19 passes for 269 yards and two scores, and ran five times for 13 yards and two touchdowns
- South Carolina QB Dylan Thompson completed 21-of-39 passes for 249 yards and a score
- Clemson RB Wayne Gallman ran 27 times for 191 yards and a touchdown
- Clemson WR Artavis Scott caught seven passes for 185 yards and two touchdowns
Game Rating: C
Nov. 22 at Clemson 28, Georgia State 0
And You Care Because … Clemson had no problems on either side of the ball, getting two first quarter touchdown runs from Tyshon Dye from three and six yards out, and two second quarter scores on a nine-yard Wayne Gallman run and, with 34 seconds left, an eight-yard Mike Williams catch from Cole Stoudt, who had a much better game than he did against Georgia Tech. Georgia State managed just 155 yards of total offense.
What Else? Clemson QB Cole Stoudt completed 19-of-29 passes for 132 yards and a score with a pick
- Georgia State QB Nick Arbuckle completed 13-of-29 passes for 115 yards and three picks
- Clemson RB Tyshon Dye ran 20 times for 124 yards and two touchdowns
- Rushing yards: Clemson 209 – Georgia State 40
Game Rating: D
Nov. 15 at Georgia Tech 28, Clemson 6
And You Care Because … Clemson lost QB Deshaun Watson to a knee injury, and the Georgia Tech defense took advantage picking off Cole Stoudt three times with Jamal Golden returning one interception 85 yards for a first quarter touchdown, and Chris Milton took one 62 yards for a score late in the third. Harrison Butker added field goals from 25, 32 and 41 yards out, and DeAndre Smelter caught a five-yard touchdown pass as the Yellow Jackets rolled. Clemson’s offense could only manage two Ammon Lakip field goals.
What Else? Clemson QB Deshaun Watson completed 5-of-7 passes for 27 yards and ran seven time for 40 yards. Cole Stoudt completed 3-of-11 passes for 19 yards and three interceptions, and ran three times for 11 yards
- Total yards: Georgia Tech 353 – Clemson 190
- Time of possession: Georgia Tech 35:08 – Clemson 24:52
- Georgia Tech QB Justin Thomas completed 8-of-11 passes for 102 yards and a touchdown, and ran 11 times for 46 yards
Game Rating: D+
Nov. 6 Clemson 34, at Wake Forest 20
And You Care Because … Clemson was in a tight battle in the fourth quarter only up 20-17 when Artavis Scott took a pass 68 yards for a touchdown, and Wayne Gallman ran for a 30-yard score to finally put the game away. Scott also scored on a four-yard play in the second quarter and Gallman scored on an 18-yard pass play, but the Demon Deacons were helped by two takeaways with John Wolford throwing two first half touchdown passes. However, Wake Forest could only manage a 50-yard Mike Weaver field goal late in the first half and a 31-yarder in the fourth after Cam Serigne gave the team a 14-10 lead on a 14-yard pass play late in the second.
What Else? Clemson WR Artavis Scott caught eight passes for 122 yards and two scores
- Wake Forest QB John Wolford completed 11-of-29 passes for 88 yards and two scores
- Total yards: Clemson 427 – Wake Forest 119
- Clemson RB Wayne Gallman ran 19 times for 106 yards and a score
Game Rating: C+
Oct. 25 at Clemson 16, Syracuse 6
And You Care Because … In a sloppy game, the Clemson defense got the job done, giving up just two Cole Murphy field gos in the first half. However, Clemson only mustered a 38-yard Ammon Lakip in the second quarter before coming out of the locker room and controlling the rest of the game The Tigers scored 13 unanswered points with Lakip hitting field goals from 18 and 41 yards out for a 9-6 lead, and Cole Stoudt put it away on a 19-yard pass play to Stanton Seckinger.
What Else? Turnovers: Clemson 4 – Syracuse 3
- Total yards: Clemson 375 – Syracuse 170
- Clemson RB Wayne Gallman ran 28 times for 101 yards
- Syracuse QB AJ Long completed 12-of-27 passes for 82 yards and two picks
Game Rating: C-
Oct. 18 Clemson 17, at Boston College 13
And You Care Because … Cole Stoudt gutted out a shoulder injury to help lead Clemson to a tough win, but it was C.J. Davidson who came up with the big play running for a 32-yard score in the fourth quarter. The Tigers scored first on a 17-yard Wayne Gallman run, but Boston College got two Tyler Murphy touchdown passes with a 26-yarder to Sherman Alston and a six-yarder to Josh Bordner, but the defense couldn’t hang on and the offense couldn’t make anything out of its final drives.
What Else? Total yards: Clemson 398 – Boston College 263
- Clemson QB Cole Stoudt completed 29-of-45 passes for 285 yards
- Boston College QB Tyler Murphy completed 8-of-19 passes for 108 yards and two scores, and led the team with 55 yards on 13 carries
- Third down conversions: Clemson 10-of-21 – Boston College 2-of-14
Game Rating: B
Oct. 11 at Clemson 23, Louisville 17
And You Care Because … Clemson came up with a goal line stand stopping Louisville on 4th and 2 in the final seconds after a stop on a 73-yard pass play to James Quick to set up the dramatic finish. The Tigers took the lead for good on two of Ammon Lakip’s three second half field goals, while Louisville could only manage a 22-yard Eli Rogers touchdown catch after Dominique Brown scored on a two-yard touchdown run early in the second. The Tiger offense lost star QB Deshaun Watson to an injury in the first half, but got an Adam Humphries 72-yard punt return for a score and the defense recovered a fumble for a touchdown to take control early. The defense overcame the O’s problems.
What Else? Louisville QB Will Gardner completed 10-of-16 passes for 150 yards and a touchdown
- Clemson WR Artavis Scott caught ten passes for 66 yards
- Third down conversions: Clemson 2-of-16 – Louisville 1-of 17
- Penalties: Louisville 11 for 65 yards – Clemson 3 for 14 yards
Game Rating: B
Oct. 4 at Clemson 41, NC State 0
And You Care Because … The Tigers dominated throughout with Deshaun Watson throwing two touchdown passes to Mike Williams from 56 and 31 yards out, and he ran for two short scores. The defense did the rest, keeping NC State to 156 yards and getting a 16-yard Vic Beasley fumble return for a touchdown in the fourth. Ammon Lakip hit field goals from 31 and 43 yards out for the Tigers.
What Else? Clemson QB Deshaun Watson completed 17-of-29 passes for 267 yards and two touchdowns, and ran 15 times for a team-high 62 yards and two touchdowns.
- NC State QB Jacoby Brissett completed 4-of-18 passes for 35 yards
- Clemson WR Mike Williams caught six passes for 155 yards and two touchdowns
- Yards per pass: Clemson 8.9 – NC State 1.8
Game Rating: D
Sept. 27 at Clemson 50, North Carolina 35
And You Care Because … Deshaun Watson ripped apart a North Carolina defense that’s still trying to recover from the 70 points it gave up against East Carolina. Watson threw six touchdown passes for Clemson including big plays to Germone Hopper from 4 and 50 yards out in the first half and two more to Mike Williams in the third quarter from 24 and 33 yards out. North Carolina hung around on Marqise Williams touchdown passes from 17 yards away to Mack Hollins and 41 yards to T.J. Thorpe, and a two-yarder to Quinshad Davis and a 75-yarder to Ryan Switzer made it interesting. But Watson always had an answer, putting the game well out of reach with a five-yard scoring play to Jordan Leggett with just under six minutes to play.
What Else? Clemson QB Deshaun Watson completed 27-of-36 passes for 435 yards and six touchdowns with a pick, and ran 11 times for 28 yards.
- North Carolina QB Marquise Williams completed 24-of-38 passes for 345 yards and four scores with a pick
- Penalties: North Carolina 15 for 130 yards – Clemson 4 for 19 yards
- Clemson WR Germone Hopper caught three passes for 139 yards and two scores, and Mike Williams caught six passes for 122 yards and two touchdowns
Game Rating: B
Sept. 20 at Florida State 23, Clemson 17
And You Care Because … Florida State survived the absence of Jameis Winston with a fumble recovery late in regulation deep in its own territory to keep the game tied, and then got a 12-yard Karlos Williams touchdown run in the overtime for the win. Clemson had the ball first, but was stuffed on a 4th and 1 opening the door for the Seminoles. The Tigers held a 17-10 lead late in the fourth on a two-yard Deshaun Watson run, but Sean Maguire found a wide open Rashad Greene for a 74-yard score to tie it. Maguire got picked late, giving Clemson the chance to drive for the win, but FSU’s fumble recovery kept the game alive.
What Else? FSU QB Sean Maguire completed 21-of-39 passes for 305 yards and a score with two picks.
- Clemson QB Deshaun Watson came in for Cole Stoudt and was magnificent, completing 19-of-28 passes for 266 yards, and ran 12 times for 30 yards and a score.
- Rushing yards: Clemson 101 – Florida State 13
- Jameis Winston came out for pregame warmups in pads, but was told to change into street clothes.
Game Rating: A
Sept. 6 at Clemson 73, South Carolina State 7
And You Care Because … Clemson scored the most points in a game in 33 yards as Cole Stoudt threw for 302 yards and a score and Deshaun Watson completed 8-of-9 passes for 154 yards and three touchdowns in the rout. The defense did its part allowing just 44 yards of total offense with four sacks and 14 tackles for loss. The Tigers got up 34-0 in the first half and were never threatened.
South Carolina State scored on a 35-yard fumble return for a score late in the
Game Rating: F
Aug. 30 at Georgia 45, Clemson 21
And You Care Because … Down 21-14 midway through the second quarter after a one-yard touchdown run from C.J. Davidson, Todd Gurley answered with a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown that sparked a run of 31 unanswered points. Gurley finished with three touchdown runs including an 18-yarder and 51-yard dash in the fourth quarter, and Nick Chubb added a 47-yard dash to put the game well out of reach.
What Else? That’s how you kick off a Heisman campaign. Gurley ran 15 times for 198 yards and three scores and returned a kickoff for a game-changing score. The O line did its job, but Gurley did the rest. There was a nice rotation of backs, but this was No. 3’s moment.
- The Clemson offense moved well in the first half, but stalled badly in the second – it needed a Sammy Watkins to make a big play and a Tajh Boyd to get things moving. Instead, Cole Stoudt couldn’t seem to come up with the right third down play, and Deshaun Watson, outside of a 30-yard touchdown pass to Charone Peake, couldn’t seem to find any room to move. The Georgia D had a lot to do with that.
- The Georgia linebacking corps played up to its billing. Amarlo Herrera was all over the field making a game-high 12 tackles with two sacks and 3.5 tackles for loss, but it was Leonard Floyd who changed the game around with two big sacks and a forced fumble. The group dominated.
- Where was Vic Beasley? The Clemson star pass rusher couldn’t seem to get free, and he came up with a sack and two tackles for loss with five tackles, but he didn’t do enough to slow down the Georgia O once it got rolling.
Game Rating: B
New quarterback. Same expectations.
Clemson will no longer have longtime QB Tajh Boyd behind center, or his favorite target, Sammy Watkins, running routes. Huge losses, but don’t expect the bar to be lowered dramatically around Death Valley. Dabo Swinney has a great thing going with the Tigers, and he and his staff continue to thrive on Signing Day. The program is bound to take a small step back in 2014, fading a little further behind Florida State in the ACC Atlantic, but there’s ample talent on hand to realistically be thinking major bowl game for the third time in the last four years.
Clemson is Clemson, with a twist. Although the offense has largely been the catalyst for the program’s 32 wins over the last three years, the defense will be asked to shoulder the load in the early going. Seven starters return to a unit that’s made enormous strides for coordinator Brent Venables, and will be expected to do so again in 2014.
The Tigers will be led by one of the nation’s best D-lines, a deep unit that’ll attack the pocket with the inside-outside combination of Grady Jarrett and All-American Vic Beasley, respectively. You want depth? This line’s second unit would rank among the 25 or so best groups in America. It’s a good thing that Clemson will dominate the line of scrimmage, too, because it might be vulnerable in the back seven. LB Stephone Anthony is a beast. But two of his mates have graduated, as have last year’s starting corners. Quality quarterbacks can solve this secondary, unless Beasley & Co. are in their face for 60 minutes.
Chad Morris is back. You can come in from the ledge now, Clemson fans.
Morris is one of the hottest offensive coordinators in college football, which is why no one is panicking yet over the departures of Boyd, Watkins and five other starters. The Tigers can’t possibly be as potent as they were in 2012 and 2013. Morris, though, is so good at developing attacks that Clemson will still be one of the ACC’s highest-scoring teams.
Boyd’s perennial backup, Cole Stoudt, is the likely starter. The senior brings poise, experience and leadership to the huddle. His supporting cast is a work-in-progress. The Tigers are in the market for reliable targets, a feature back and a couple of new starting linemen. Clemson was a 40-point offense in Boyd’s final two years. With so many question marks, the 2014 edition might have to settle for hovering around the 35-point range.
Clemson has found its groove. But then again, so have Florida State and in-state rival South Carolina. And the Tigers know it. They can’t allow the gap with the Seminoles and the Gamecocks to widen, even in a year when there’s so much turnover on offense. Swinney won’t let the program slip too far, though this could be one of those seasons that ends in December instead of January.
What to watch for on offense: The backs will be fine as long as the passing game is a threat. Is anyone seriously rattled by the graduation of Roderick McDowell? Sure, he was a 1,000-yarder, but he was also a journeyman prior to 2013, testament to the attack’s penchant for producing playmakers. If it takes a committee, so be it. The Tigers house a bunch of capable successors, including junior Zac Brooks, senior D.J. Howard, redshirt freshman Wayne Gallman and junior C.J. Davidson, who arrived on a track scholarship.
What to watch for on defense: The fallout at cornerback. The Tigers feel really confident about the defense. Corner, though, could become a tricky area. Bashaud Breeland and Darius Robinson have graduated, and it’s not as if the pass defense was unbeatable a year ago. Seniors Garry Peters and Martin Jenkins are serviceable veterans. But the player to watch is redshirt freshman Mackensie Alexander, who looked like the program’s best cover guy in the spring. If he can continue to evolve into a stopper, Clemson will have one less worry on defense this fall.
This team will be far better if … it does a better job of protecting the pocket. The Tigers allowed 34 sacks last season, which was the third highest total in the ACC. Now, a seasoned veteran, like Boyd, was able to withstand—and thrive—under pressure. But how will Stoudt, who has never started a game, hold up under those circumstances? The offense is facing enough issues this year. If the unit wants to remain on track, keeping the pocket clean can’t be another one of the worries.
The Schedule: The Tigers will know exactly where they stand in the world right away. If they’re able to beat Georgia and Florida State on the road, they’ll not only be 3-0, they’ll probably be No. 1 in the country. While there are road games at Wake Forest and Georgia Tech to deal with in back-to-back weeks, that’s about it for the nastiness away from Death Valley, getting three home games in a row in the first part of the season and four home games in five weeks. The South Carolina showdown is at home, but with that to end the season, and the Bulldogs to start, this is one of the nation’s toughest non-conference schedules, even with Georgia State and South Carolina State on the slate.
Best Offensive Player: Senior QB Cole Stoudt. No, you don’t get better by losing a player of Tajh Boyd’s caliber, but a team could do a lot worse than Stoudt. The savvy veteran has been in the system since 2011, which means he knows the intricacies of Chad Morris’ offense intimately well. Stoudt possesses all of the intangibles needed to replace an all-timer, but he’s a skilled passer and an underrated athlete as well. His play in the spring, coupled with Chad Kelly’s dismissal and Deshaun Watson’s broken collarbone, has led to the starting nod. And he’s prepared to make the most of this opportunity.
Best Defensive Player: Senior DE Vic Beasley. Beasley could have turned pro, and would have been drafted high. He’s still an amateur, though, and the Tigers couldn’t be happier. By improbably staying in school, Beasley became Clemson’s first consensus All-American since 1989 to return for his senior year. He’s the type of pass rusher who needs to be accounted for at all times. The opposition has two choices when it comes to defending Beasley—allow him to wreak havoc in the backfield, or give him so much attention that the rest of a terrific D-line flourishes. Clemson wins either way.
Key player to a successful season: Senior QB Cole Stoudt. And it’s not even up for debate. Stoudt doesn’t have to necessarily be Tajh Boyd, an unfair comparison because of the disparity in reps. What he needs to be is a reliable caretaker of Chad Morris’ offense. In order words, maintain the accuracy and poise he’s shown off the bench in recent years, while showcasing some of the untapped potential that couldn’t reach the surface when No. 10 was still in Death Valley. Stoudt has no choice but to be the primary accelerant on offense. If not he, then who?
The season will be a success if ... a fourth-straight 10-win season includes a victory over South Carolina. Can the Tigers win the ACC in 2014? Of course. Still, that’s a taller than usual quest this season. Clemson has a new quarterback. Florida State has the reigning Heisman winner. And this year’s matchup between the league’s two powerhouses on Sept. 20 will take place in Tallahassee. The Tigers need to remain on course, overcoming all challenges to once again be ranked among the nation’s top dozen or so teams. Oh, and they’ve got to snap the five-game losing streak when the Gamecocks visit on Nov. 29.
Key game: Nov. 29 vs. South Carolina. For all that Clemson and Dabo Swinney have achieved lately, the inability to take down the Gamecocks gnaws at the program, the coach and the fans. The Tigers have dropped five consecutive Battles of the Palmetto State, their longest losing streak in the series. And no matter where they are in the rankings at the time, they always seem to unravel at the sight of garnet and black. Clemson has a couple of pieces of unfinished business that need to be tended to. Beating South Carolina is bolded and underlined at the top of that list.
2013 Fun Stats:
- Passing efficiency: Clemson 164.2 – Opponents 114.2
- Yards per game: Clemson 507.7 – Opponents 356.7
- Third-down conversions: Clemson 44.7% - Opponents 30.8%
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