Clemson - Virginia video rewind

When you watch a game at home or in the stadium, you miss stuff.

You're watching with eight or 83,000 of your closest friends, you're cooking, enjoying yourself, watching the wrong thing, and something important slips by.

That's why I've started doing this feature – a weekly rewind of Clemson football, the good and the bad. It helps me pick things up, and I think it'll help you, too.

Without further ado, here's what I picked up from ESPN's broadcast of No.8 Clemson 59, Virginia 10:

We're welcomed to the telecast for the second week in a row by the team of Mike Patrick and Ed Cunningham, whom Dabo Swinney publicly called out for being "too negative" regarding the Tigers' win over Maryland. Jeannine Edwards is the sideline reporter. This should be interesting.

Right from the start, it appears that Swinney or someone with Clemson has had quite the effect on Patrick and Cunningham. Both are going out of their way to be positive about the Tigers, noting that a win today would mark the program's longest win streak away from home since 1979.

"They're taking care of business against teams they're supposed to beat," Cunningham says. "And Maryland is much better than you think they are. Today we're seeing the return of one of the best players in Sammy Watkins. Had an unbelievable freshman year, dealt with problems last year, wasn't quite healthy. You've started to see, in my opinion, the best player in the country."

Then, we cut to embattled UVA head coach Mike London in the Cavaliers' locker room.

"All things are possible," he bellows to his team. "You play for an audience of one. You play for family, you play for faith. All things are possible! Don't let this opportunity to pass you by. Run to the middle of the ring and throw haymakers! We've got nothing to lose. Let's turn it loose!"

Last week, the Tigers turned their first four red zone opportunities into three field goals. It becomes immediately clear that this week will be different. Tajh Boyd moves the offense crisply down the field, reaching the UVA 33 in four plays.

Then comes the first haymaker.

Boyd targets freshman cornerback Tim Harris in coverage on Watkins, and connects for an easy 33-yard touchdown, two steps ahead of Harris in the end zone.

"That was just too easy," Patrick says. "He's just a different level of athlete," Cunningham crows.

Ironic that when ESPN shows a graphic of defensive tackle Grady Jarrett being "the most undersung guy on Clemson's defense" that his picture is transposed with that of freshman safety Jayron Kearse.

London tells his team it has "nothing to lose" and to "throw haymakers," but he punts on fourth and 1 from his 49-yard line. OK, then.

"If you're playing Clemson and you're this much of an underdog, I think you have to go for it here," Cunningham says.

I like the way that Clemson is using both Watkins and Martavis Bryant in the short screen pass game. You have to get those guys involved as much as possible.

I don't like Sam Cooper's poor job of picking up a UVA blitz on third and 3 from the Clemson 16, leaving Boyd swarmed for a four-yard loss and ending the Tigers' second drive. Cooper gives the UVA defender an "ole" as he rushes by him. I do like Virginia tight end Jake McGee.

Excellent athlete and a big target in the Cavs' passing game.

Clemson's second defensive drive is a poor one, as the Cavs drive 54 yards in 10 plays. Looked like Darius Robinson was caught out of position on a Keon Johnson 15-yard catch on third and 10 from just inside the 50.

UVA quarterback David Watford dekes Shaq Lawson on a nice quarterback rush and then leaves Vic Beasley in his wake on a six-yard touchdown run to the left corner of the end zone, tying the game.

How in the world did Rod McDowell get so open on third and 4 from his own 26? Virginia totally loses him on a screen for a 27-yard gain. Boyd is just picking on Harris, the freshman. Huge 37-yard connection with Bryant to the UVA 5 and tremendous athleticism by Bryant. On Harris. Again.

And is that C.J. Davidson on the goal line? It is. With Zac Brooks not in the picture due to a shoulder injury, Davidson gets his first carry in four games for a bruising two-yard score. Impressive.

"C.J. Davidson, no that's D.J. Howard, No.22, no that's C.J. Davidson, 32," Patrick stumbles as ESPN's cameras clearly focus on Davidson walking off the field.

Tremendous hit by B.J. Goodson on the ensuing kickoff, burying Taquan Mizell at the 10. He hasn't seen much action at linebacker, but Goodson has been a solid special teams contributor.

Up 14-7, I like the aggressiveness by Boyd and offensive coordinator Chad Morris. They target Bryant deep again, clearly going for the kill shot against junior corner DreQuan Hoskey.

But Boyd forces a pass into double coverage going for Watkins, and it's intercepted by safety Anthony Harris at the UVA 7. Not a smart throw. He was clearly locked on Watkins the entire way. Very borderline personal foul by safety Travis Blanks, hitting Jake McGee late on third and 8 from the UVA 9.

It wasn't targeting since Blanks hit McGee in the back and with his shoulder, but it was, as Cunningham said, "out of the realm of what you should do on the play." Not smart. Blanks left his feet and lowered his shoulder.

Better play from Harris who makes a nice pass breakup on Watkins. Boyd doesn't look like a big threat to run. Perhaps his ankle and knee injuries are still hurting him.

The offense is losing some momentum here.

D.J. Reader is playing well, with a big sack of Watford to get Clemson the ball back at the 50 following a punt. But Boyd and Clemson just look sluggish. His high third-down throw to Adam Humphries – out of bounds – looks like a throw he made in the Florida State game.

Following the 14-7 lead the next three series feature a pair of three-and-outs, an interception and 11 yards of offense.

Clemson is getting a lot of positive publicity today. ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay comes on for a segment and raves about Watkins, calling him "the best wide receiver prospect in all of college football" with "strong hands, competitiveness and acceleration."

He thinks Vic Beasley should "come back for another year" and gain 10 more pounds of strength. And he thinks Boyd is a second-day (second to third-round) prospect due to the deep quarterback class and his 6-1 height.

While McShay talks, Boyd's current lack of mobility shows up as he takes a 15-yard loss from a UVA blitz.

Morris is not afraid of going for it on fourth and 3 at the 47, but Howard is swallowed on a screen by linebacker Henry Coley. It looked like Watkins was open over the middle.

Clemson's defense is picking up the offense's slack. Swarming in the UVA backfield consistently. I like its energy today.

Right on cue, Jayron Kearse makes an interception while playing center field and gets a 38-yard return into UVA territory. Poor route by UVA receiver Darius Jennings, and the ball was floated by Watford.

I like noted practice aficionado Jordan Leggett in the red zone. I think he's Clemson's most talented tight end.

And a really nice throw by Boyd to McDowell for a 10-yard score. He just barely got the ball over the goal line before his knees touch down at the 1. Good hustle.

I like Keon Johnson and his big frame. Nice catch with Bashaud Breeland draped all over him.

And a great job by Kearse – again! – to strip the ball away from Khalek Shepard. Really like how Kearse has developed in the last few weeks as a difference-maker for the secondary.

Not a good throw by Boyd into triple coverage going for Bryant down the field after the fumble, though.

Much better: McDowell's 25-yard touchdown run on third and 1. He sidestepped Harris and he was gone. An ankle-breaking move on DaQuan Romero as well.

Following some really poor clock management by London (three passes, 34 seconds burned from the clock), Boyd puts together perhaps his best drive of the year.

He works the sidelines with perfect accuracy, finding Mike Williams, Germone Hopper and Watkins. And how about that 25-yard throw to Humphries to the UVA 1 to set up the final touchdown of the half with 13 seconds left to go, giving the Tigers a 35-7 lead? It was his first pass over the middle in the drive. Just great use of the clock. Boyd was 6-for-6 for 84 yards on the drive. Great blocks by Tyler Shatley and Brandon Thomas on Boyd's touchdown run.

The final five minutes of that second quarter for Virginia was like the fight scene from Anchorman. It escalated. I mean, it jumped up a notch. There were horses, a man on fire, and I think Tajh Boyd had a trident.

"That's what Clemson's offense can do to you," Patrick says. "You turn your back and it's over." Cunningham raves about how teams like Clemson and Oregon have "speed that changes the whole game" and "the way teams have to think about defense – you have to think about this game more like basketball with possessions, onside kicks, don't punt once you're past the 40."

After halftime, it's never a good sign when the announcers talk about your team "not throwing in the towel" and "building depth," as this crew does regarding Virginia.

Boyd's final pass of the game is a big one. Backed up to his own 4 on third and 15, he unloads for Watkins – who is covered again by Smith – for an incredible 96 yard touchdown, the second-longest offensive play in Clemson history. He gets behind Smith in coverage, catches the ball at the 40, and it's see ya later. He could have crawled into the end zone.

Patrick: "If you can't find the ball in the air, and you're trying to play Sammy Watkins, good luck."

Cunningham thinks that Watkins "is going to go in the top half, once teams start studying him, he's going to go in the top 10, potentially the top 5. He's such a difference maker. … Enjoy it while you can. He's an awfully special player."

I liked Davidson's goal-line run earlier in the game, so that makes his left-leg injury hard to watch. It looked like it got twisted funny underneath him. (Also, Patrick still thinks he's D.J. Howard).

I also think UVA tailback Kevin Parks is an underrated player. He has good cutback speed and vision.

Backup quarterback Cole Stoudt's three series are uneven – two three-and-outs and a drive that winds up in a missed field goal by Ammon Lakip – but he does show good wheels on a 13-yard run and quality chemistry with Leggett.

Also, it says a lot about how your day's going when you have your backup kicker in late in the third quarter.

The backup quarterback with some really great wheels, though, is Chad Kelly – a really impressive 38-yard touchdown run, even if ESPN does call him "Travis Blanks" in an on-screen graphic and Patrick calls him "Jim's son… I mean, Jim's nephew."

Also, ESPN apparently credited Lakip with his missed field goal, as it says Clemson has a 52-10 lead, not 49-10.

ESPN thinks London will get another year, but admits he has to show progress and "close the gap" with the rest of the ACC. The Cavaliers do have some excellent recruits on board, and they'll have to make a difference immediately. But it's never a good sign when announcers talk about "version 2" of your coaching tenure. Another young defensive back who's been all over the field? Korrin Wiggins, who makes an interception deep in UVA territory.

And how do you know it's really been a good day? When Nick Schuessler gets in the game at quarterback.

The only thing missing was a Daniel Rodriguez touchdown, but D.J. Howard will gladly take it. 59-10 Clemson, and a very different tone on this day from Patrick and Cunningham.

I'm guessing Swinney had no problems leaving the sound up on his game film this week.

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