Left Carolina Blue…Looking To Wake Forest

Well, there is not much to say after a thorough butt whipping. So let me get the obvious observations out of the way before I rant just a bit. Yes, Clemson got whipped in every conceivable way. It was ugly, it hurt like hell to sit through, and I woke up nauseated on Sunday morning.

The offense was terrible and the play calling was questionable. The defense was predictable and the big plays defensively were non-existent. Woody had an off day, and that is putting it nicely. The ACC Championship race is over for Clemson, and winning more than 7 games now seems almost impossible.

If you were there or watched it on TV, you know all of the above. Now, let me tell you what simply infuriated me about Saturday. As the 4th quarter approached, backup quarterback Willie Simmons was summand into the game to replace Woody Dantzler. Woody, admittedly, had a horrible day. As he left the game he amassed a pitiful 10 of 25 day passing for only 73 yards and one interception.

But, to my horror, as Willie Simmons ran onto the field he was given his ritual standing ovation. And, this was not a normal standing ovation for a job well done. No, this was a standing ovation that proclaimed "It's about time you put Willie Simmons, the best quarterback at Clemson, in the game". I was stunned.

All Woodrow Dantzler had done the past 2 weeks was amass close to 1000 yards in total offense while leading Clemson to 2 huge road wins against a top 10 team in Georgia Tech and a formative opponent in NC State. All of that and there are still idiots in the Clemson stands that want Willie Simmons to play instead of Woody. Unbelievable.

To deny that Woody had a terrible game is an injustice to yourself. To expect Willie Simmons to get some snaps at the end of the game to get some much-needed experience is expected. But, to stand and applaud this kid is a complete disrespect to Woody, and it makes me sick. The conversations around me made by folks who still think Willie should be the starting QB at Clemson completely dumbfounds me. You all should be ashamed of yourselves for that display and you should thank your lucky stars every night that Woody Dantzler is your starting QB. Not because I said so, but because he is one of the best college football players in the land. And many of you treat him with no class at all.

By the way your hero, Willie Simmons, was 4 of 21 for 71 yards and one interception.

Looking back at my 5 keys to the North Carolina game and how they graded out.

#1-Hold Em Up Front
Julius Peppers proved he is an exceptional player and the Carolina defense proved to be a very worthy opponent. Everything Clemson tried on offense did not work. Give most of the credit to North Carolina. But, it was not an impressive day for the Clemson offense.

Rhymer's Grade…F

#2-Grab A Turnover
Coming into the game, UNC was turn over prone. This was an opportunity for the Clemson defense to get a couple of turnovers and assist the offense in putting up some easy points. This mission was a colossal failure. The Tar Heels did not commit a turnover, and Clemson never even came close to grabbing an interception.

Rhymer's Grade…F

#3-More Air Currie
Airese Currie did have a team leading 5 catches for 59 yards. Clemson did not throw deep to Currie like I had hoped, and maybe that was due to the fact that the Clemson QB's had little time in the pocket. I would not call the true freshman's performance a bright spot, but he continues to develop his game and he is going to be one heck of a player.

Rhymer's Grade…C

#4-Kick It Through
Aaron Hunt kicked a career long 48-yard field goal in the first quarter. Problem was, it was the only bright spot for the Tiger offense.

Rhymer's Grade…A

#5-Rattle The Rams
In defense of the Homecoming crowd of 84,000, there was not a whole lot to cheer about. The Tar Heels took control of the game before the Tiger crowd could rattle them. The crowd, even into the third quarter, was dying for an opportunity to believe. The team just could not give it to them.

Now let's look forward to the Wake Forest game this coming Saturday in Winston Salem. Here are my "5 Things To Watch" for the game.

#1-What's There To Play For?
With the ACC title hopes vanished from hope, there has to be a bigger purpose to the team next week. How the coaching staff handles the team will be interesting to watch this week. Senior leadership will also play a factor in how this team approaches the home stretch of the season.

#2-Stay Healthy
Let's assume, for a second, that Clemson will win Saturday. I may eat my words on that one, but I'm willing to take that plunge. Having said that, Clemson needs to continue to heal the wounded and avoid getting anybody else hurt. Huge games with major bowl implications remain with FSU, Maryland, and USC…and the Tigers need to go into those games as healthy as possible.

#3-Where Is The Improving D?
I think some of the fire on Reggie Herring could be flamed if this defense would just show improvement as the year goes on. That improvement has not been abundantly evident as of yet, and Wake is the kind of team that should not run up and down the field on the Tigers. We'll see.

#4-Offensive Imagination
We saw a very imaginative game plan in Raleigh, and a very bland one against Carolina. I liked the results in Raleigh much better. Trickery and deceit is ok with me, and it may be needed for this offense to be as good as it needs to be.

#5-Give It To Big Ben
After establishing himself as a major part of the offensive game plan in Raleigh, Ben Hall disappeared versus UNC. A guy with that much ability and physical prowess deserves to get the ball thrown his way more than he did this past Saturday.

Scott can be reached at weekendedition@cs.com.

Scott is the host of "The College Football Weekend Preview" on Thursday nights from 8-10 p.m. immediately falling Tiger Calls on WCCP 104.9 FM. The show can also be heard via the Internet at http://www.wccpfm.com.

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