Considering the running combination of James Davis and C.J. Spiller piled up more than 300 yards against the seventh-best rushing defense in the country, most would think this would be an A+. The only reason it's not is because quarterback Will Proctor's continued spotty play. He finished just 7-of-16 passing for 105 yards, 50 of which came on a screen pass, and an interception. And while the interception wasn't Proctor's fault, there were as many as four other passes that could have just as easily been picked off. But the focus should be on the performances of Spiller, Davis and the o-line. There might be such a tandem equally as good, but there are definitely none better.
All that needs to be said here is that stud receiver Calvin Johnson, a definite first-round draft pick, was held without a catch for the first time in his career. Moreover, he was held without two catches for the first time in his career. There's a reason defensive coordinator Vic Koenning was given the game ball. Just imagine if linebacker Tremaine Billie and Anthony Waters were playing.
SPECIAL TEAMS: B
All of Jad Dean's place kicks looked good, crisp and sharp. But most importantly, the kickoff coverage team didn't surrender a big play. The reason for a B is because the punt return team, which has been less than stellar, had three returns for four yards. That area has been a problem for the Tigers and now that it seems the kickoff coverage is fixed, it's time to focus in on the punt returns.
The defensive coaching obviously gets an A+, but so does the job done by offensive coordinator Rob Spence, who realized that he could wear down the Georgia Tech defense by running the ball and not have rely on Proctor throwing. Head coach Tommy Bowden had his team ready, but the big test will come in five days at Virginia Tech. Three games in 14 days is a difficult task, especially considering two of the teams are Georgia Tech and the Hokies.
Without question, the best game of the year for Clemson. In fact, it might be its best game since the thrashing of South Carolina in 2003. The Tigers were on national television and they let the country know that while the rest of the ACC may be bad, they can match up with anybody. There's little question the representatives from the BCS bowls took notice. All Clemson has to do know is fulfill its part by winning out.
Grades: Tigers Sting Jackets
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