OFFENSE: D The only thing the offense did reasonably well was run the ball, but there was absolutely no consistency whatsoever. Clemson was a little lucky to be in overtime in the first place. Had it not been for a 83-yard run by tailback C.J. Spiller and an Auburn turnover deep in its own territory, Clemson would have found it hard to break 10 points. Quarterback Cullen Harper had the worst game of his career. He couldn't make short, medium or deep passes. The perfect example of a lack of offense came in overtime when Clemson couldn't even manage to move it 25 yards.
DEFENSE: A- The defense played about as well as it possibly could given the circumstances. Holding Auburn to 17 points in regulation should have been more than enough to win. Clemson had to play the last 21 minutes of the game without its top three tacklers after safety Michael Hamlin hurt his left knee. The defense handled Auburn's spread offense pretty well, but the players got tired and were completely gassed by game's end. Of course it didn't help matters that Clemson had eight series where it ran three plays or less on offense.
SPECIAL TEAMS: C- There were two missed field goals, but in all fairness they were from 45 and 53 yards. Punter Jimmy Maners had some bad punts, including a 20-yarder, but he also had some booming punts to even it out. Kickoff return coverage wasn't that good, but the kickoff return was better than average.
COACHING: A- Clemson was prepared and looked it. The team knew exactly what it wanted to do in each phase of the game. And for the most part, it accomplished it, with the exception of offense. Offensive coordinator Rob Spence put Clemson in position to score points, but there's nothing he can do with Harper missing pass after pass. Koenning's defense handled all the phases of Auburn's wild offense, but just didn't have enough numbers to keep everyone fresh at the end. This area was pretty solid all the way around.
OVERALL: C The coaching and defense performed well enough that this should have been a rather easy win for Clemson. Even the special teams did nothing to really hurt the outcome. But the passing offense was bad and it is the main reason why Clemson lost its second straight bowl game.
GRADES: Chick-Fil-A Bowl
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