GRADES: Huge numbers highlight first win

CUTigers publisher Roy Philpott hands out grades from Clemson's first win of the season.

It was a record-setting day as the Tigers put up 73 points and 735 yards of total offense. The lone miscue was a fumble by reserve running back Kurt Fleming that was returned for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. Freshman QB Deshaun Watson looked outstanding (8-of-9 154 yards and 3 touchdowns) and so did Cole Stoudt (22-of-31 for 301 yards). Stoudt did narrowly avoid a couple of interceptions, but was still is efficient self. Artavis Scott went off with six catches for 164 yards and two scores as well. And if that wasn't enough, the running game was solid as a pair of freshmen went over 70 yards (Wayne Gallman and Adam Choice). It was just S.C. State, but it sure feels good to see this kind of production when teams like Iowa State, Nebraska and others have struggled with FCS foes the first two weeks of the season. Questions going forward: does Gallman or Choice get more carries at FSU? How much more will we see of Watson in Tallahassee? Lastly, when will the tight ends get more involved?

If the offense was good, the defense was even better. S.C. State didn't notch its first first down until less than three minutes remained in the first half and had just 44 yards of total offense for the game. Clemson had a mind-boggling 14 tackles for loss, with Stephone Anthony and Shaq Lawson leading the way with two apiece. Jadar Johnson's 60-yard pick-six was also a highlight of the big win. Again, it's S.C. State, not Georgia, but it still was a crushing performance for a unit looking to make a big step in the right direction.

It was very important for Clemson's kicking game to play at a high level Saturday, and for the most part, it did. Ammon Lakip converted all three of his field goal attempts (3) and extra points. In addition, the Clemson offense was so good it never punted and even backup kickers Bradley Pinion and Corbin Jenkins even got in the game for a couple of PATs. Jenkins missed the last extra point the Tigers attempted and Pinion only had four touchbacks in nine attempts- resulting in the "A-."

Dabo Swinney has done a great job getting this team to bounce back in resounding fashion over the years- whether it's a ranked team or an inferior opponent. Saturday, the Tigers were the faster, more-physical team for four quarters and never let up. That kind of performance is the product of good coaching. Clemson was anything but flat and put on the kind of show we haven't seen in Death Valley in more than 25 years. Bravo Dabo.

The good news? Clemson took care of business in a big way Saturday afternoon. The bad? The Tigers have to now wait a week before heading to No. 1 Florida State. In the meantime, fans are going to spend the next 12 days clamoring for more playing time for freshman QB Deshaun Watson. While they may be right, is it in this team's best interest to start a freshman signal caller on the road against a team that limited Clemson's high-flying act a year ago to just two touchdowns (at home no less)? Aren't we all throwing in the towel too early with Cole Stoudt? The bottom line is it doesn't matter who Clemson starts under center in Tallahassee if the offensive line doesn't become more consistent at the point of attack and the rushing game can't put together more than two solid quarters. Nevermind slowing down Heisman Trophy winning QB Jameis Winston. Let everyone with an opinion bark about the "controversy" at quarterback and understand that should be the least of Clemson's concerns if it has plans of beating the No. 1 team in the land. Top Stories