GRADES: Special Teams Hurt Tigers

CLEMSON – Following each game, each phase of the Clemson team will be given a letter grade. Here are this week's grades following the Tigers' 13-3 loss to Georgia Tech Saturday at Bobby Dodd Stadium.

OFFENSE: F Once again, quarterback Cullen Harper played well, as did tailback James Davis. The receivers dropped nearly as many passes as they caught and running back C.J. Spiller continues to have a tough time running. Maybe the Furman game for him wasn't a fluke after all. He had nine carries for two yards.

But the biggest problem was the offensive line, which was downright offensive. Harper was sacked six times, the most by a Tigers quarterback since 2003. And when he wasn't getting sacked, he was running for his life and still taking a beating. And let's not forget the personal foul on Chris McDuffie that negated Clemson's lone touchdown.

DEFENSE: B Despite the gaudy rushing numbers by Georgia Tech, this unit played well. The defense got two turnovers and was put in precarious positions time and time again. To put things in complete perspective, the three scoring drives by the Yellow Jackets were distances of eight, 11 and nine yards. When a defense only gives us 13 points and yields just 256 yards of total offense, that should be result in a win.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Z If there was a letter lower than this, that's what Clemson would get. Let's take a closer look at the damage. A blocked punt that resulted in the game's only touchdown, two shaky snaps on punts, one bad snap on a field goal, four missed field goals, a fumble on a punt return that resulted in a Yellow Jackets field goal and a roughing the kicker penalty.

This makes five straight games that this area has received a D or lower in grades. As stated here numerous times, if Clemson didn't fix these problems, sooner or later it was going to cost it a game. Well, it finally did. This marks three straight years Clemson has had some of the worst special teams in the nation.

COACHING: D- The only reason this isn't close an F or Z is because the defense seemed prepared. But can someone please explain why specials teams have been so bad for so long? Also, fans and the media are still waiting for a real answer as to why Davis isn't getting the ball more often. Once again, all he does is average five yards a carry, but he's limited to only 12 touches.

The offensive game plan and play calling was suspect at times. With so many problems in the passing game, why wasn't there just a heavy dose of Davis? The only times Clemson really moved the ball with any consistency was when he as running it. Why only use the "Stallion" play just once? How about being like Arkansas and using it three or four plays in a row.

OVERALL: D When three of the four phases are bad, there's nothing to give but a D. It was a game that was so similar to what transpired in the final half of last season that it was spooky. For Clemson's sake, hopefully this trend won't continue and spiral out of control like it did last season. Top Stories