GRADES: Tigers Get Offensive

CLEMSON - It took almost five quarters, but the Tigers scored their first offensive touchdown of the year at the end of the first quarter against The Citadel.

OFFENSE: B+
After rushing for zero yards last week against Alabama, Clemson was much more physical at the line of scrimmage and it showed in the rushing stats. True, it came against a team from the Southern Conference, but the Tigers did what they needed to do by pounding out over 250 yards on the ground. C.J. Spiller led the way with three touchdowns and even freshman Jamie Harper got in the mix in the fourth quarter with a 13-yard scoring scamper of his own. Going over 500 yards of total offense is always nice, but a couple of turnovers including a rare fumble by James Davis on Clemson's first drive of the game leads to us to leave this grade in the "B" range. Give credit to senior QB Cullen Harper as well as the offensive team captain completed 14-of-18 for 192 yards and a touchdown before being lifted in the third quarter.

DEFENSE: D+
Once you buy into the notion The Citadel has the best offense the Tigers will see until October, the fact that Clemson gave up over 400 yards of total offense becomes somewhat easier to understand. WR Andre Roberts was as good as advertised as The Citadel kept Clemson's defense on its heels all afternoon long running its short passing game out of the spread. Roberts burned Clemson's secondary twice on deep passes, including a 41-yard touchdown, but thank goodness for senior safety Mike Hamlin, who almost single-handily won the game by himself with three interceptions. The defensive line got better as the game went on, but clearly there is work to be done before opening conference play next week. Oh by the way, go ahead and put Da'Quan Bowers in the starting lineup because he is really the only player getting pressure on the quarterback.

SPECIAL TEAMS: B-
Mark Buchholz was again perfect with all of his extra points and his lone field goal attempt but a fumbled punt return by C.J. Spiller (which Clemson recovered) is unacceptable. Fortunately it didn't factor in the outcome of the game. Jimmy Maners, who out kicked freshman Dawson Zimmerman in practice this past week to re-claim the starting spot, only punted one time for 41 yards.

COACHING: B
After an embarrassing loss to Alabama on national television to open the season, it had to be tough to rebound to play a team from the FCS in The Citadel. While the Bulldogs have several explosive weapons on offense, this was still a game the Tigers should have won and won easily and that is exactly what they did. The offense rolled up over 520 total yards and was efficient except for two turnovers deep in Bulldogs territory. The defense ... well that's a little bit of a different story. The Clemson secondary was burned twice by Andre Roberts and The Citadel also had success throwing to the tight end all afternoon long. It was a nice rebound game, but the Tigers will have to play much better to run the table in the month of September.

OVERALL: B
Clearly the Tigers are a work in progress- especially at the line of scrimmage. The good news is September schedule is so forgiving there should be plenty of wiggle room for the younger players to gain enough valuable experience to show significant improvement by the time Clemson travels to Wake Forest in early October. The bad news is this team has a long ways from being where it needs to be to win the ACC. The defensive line has to get better at getting pressure on the quarterback and the offensive line will need to continue to develop. Saturday's performance was good, but giving up over 420 yards of total offense to an FCS school is somewhat concerning. Ricky Sapp, the Tigers need you back in the lineup as quickly as possible.

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