Grades: Clemson doesn't fare well

NASHVILLE – Following each game, each phase of the Clemson team will be given a letter grade. Here are this week's grades following the Tigers' 28-20 loss to Kentucky in the Music City Bowl:

Four turnovers, two missed field goals and an extra point are the reason for this grade. Quarterback Will Proctor struggled as he has much of the season. Even subdued freshman C.J. Spiller was upset at the fifth-year senior for some of his decision making. The running game looked good when the two backs were given a chance, but to get only 13 carries between the two of them is inexcusable, especially considering Proctor's inconsistency and trouble throwing downfield.

For every good play, there was an equal bad play. There were busted assignments in the secondary that led to long touchdown passes. The run defense was pretty good, but it still had trouble slowing down the Kentucky offense overall. Quarterback Andre Woodson finished 20-of-28 passing for 299 yards and three touchdowns. The young and inexperienced defense had its weaknesses exposed the last two games and as a result, they gave up a combined 901 yards and 59 points. Much more will be expected of this group of sophomores and freshmen next year.

Yes, Clemson recorded its first blocked punt of the season, but that was superseded by two missed field goals and two botched extra points. Every year, it seems there are problems in some area of special teams. A few years ago, it was defending punt returns. Last year, it was punting. This year, it is field goal kicking and kickoff coverage. Maybe it is time for a special teams coordinator. Missed field goals happen all the time, but when two extra point attempts fail the way they did, it, too, is inexcusable. To get an idea of just how bad things were, the team's attempt at its first two-point conversion was so bad that Proctor just ran out of bounds and never attempted the pass.

The team sputtered in every aspect and by the time Kentucky was up 28-6, the offense and defense and little answers. The offense has to be less conservative and take chances downfield, while at the same time finding a nice balance with the running game to keep Spiller and Davis happy. Bowden has strived to get better talent, and now that he has it, he has to find a way to utilize it. It's generally not a good sign when Proctor has 39 passes and Spiller and Davis combine for 13 carries. Defensively, the secondary, linebackers and interior linemen need to be more consistent and smarter.

It was an uninspiring outing for what wound up being an uninspiring season. The game was a mirror image of what happened over the course of the previous four games. Clemson was outplayed in every phase of the game. If the Tigers are to take that next step forward as the talent would suggest they could do, then what happened in four of the last five games can never happen again. Good teams don't lose like that to teams like this. Top Stories