Kyle Parker took advantage of a porous Wake Forest secondary by turning in one of the most efficient performances of his Clemson career, completing 15 of 17 passes for nearly 200 yards and two touchdowns. Jamie Harper also continued a strong November by rushing for 142 yards, including a 63-yard touchdown romp to give the Tigers a 30-3 fourth quarter lead. Jaron Brown's 40 yard touchdown on a jump ball was a thing of beauty and DeAndre Hopkins also continued his development, catching five passes for 36 yards and another score. The Tigers used the pass early to setup the run late and the strategy worked to perfection as Harper slowly wore down the Demon Deacons' defense. Even Tajh Boyd received some meaningful snaps- completing 4 of 8 passes for 37 yards. While he did throw an interception and threw another pass into the end zone that could best be deemed "dangerous," the reps were good to see. Lastly, show some love for the offensive line- this unit has been the most consistent part of Clemson football this season. Period.
All you need to know is Wake Forest crossed the 50 yard line into Clemson territory just twice in the first half. In addition, the Deacs didn't cross the Tigers' 35 yard line until there was less than 10 minutes remaining in the game. DeAndre McDaniel did a nice job in run support, recording a team-high eight tackles, and Da'Quan Bowers played like ... Da'Quan Bowers. Another two sacks in the books Saturday has him on the verge of earning ACC Defensive Player of the Year honors as he single handily continues to disrupt games more than any other defender in the country. Can you say top 10 draft pick? Lastly, the entire defense continues to play at an insanely high level- again giving up just one touchdown- and even that came after the game was essentially over. Wake Forest also tried every trick play in the book and it still barely eclipsed 200 yards of total offense. Kevin Steele for president.
SPECIAL TEAMS: A
It was a strong performance by freshman kicker Chandler Catanzaro, who split the uprights from 43 yards to open the scoring, and made two more field goals later on. The bottom line is his confidence has to be restored on some level after connecting on all three field goals and extra points. The rest of Clemson's special teams were adequate, but Catanzaro's strong outing gives this unit an unquestioned 'A.'
It was a strong performance by freshman kicker Chandler Catanzaro, who split the uprights from 43 yards to open the scoring, and made two more field goals later on. (Roy Philpott)
If Clemson is truly to take the next step as a program, it has to learn how to consistently win games like this. There was no atmosphere Saturday at BB&T Field and Wake Forest was hanging around, just like it did in previous upsets over the Tigers before the offense got in gear and finally made plays downfield. Credit the staff for a solid game plan on both sides of the ball and also maintaining a high level of energy on the team for four quarters. The stands were asleep, but the Tigers were wide awake and it was great to see.
It was ugly at times, but such is Clemson football in 2010. The one thing we've learned about this team is that it depends on its defense and special teams to win games. When either one of those units aren't operating on a high level, chances are the Tigers aren't going to win. Saturday afternoon- both played well enough to make Wake Forest look like what it is - the worst team in the ACC. Looking ahead, the stakes are exponentially higher as No. 15 South Carolina comes calling next Saturday. Without question, it will take the Tigers' best performance of the year to spring the upset, but then again, Clemson hasn't been blown out by anybody and the Tigers are playing at home. Buckle your chin straps boys and girls, this one could make up for a good number of those close losses if the Tigers can find a way to get the win. And it's not as impossible as you may think.