Running the ball seemingly at will vs. the undersized Bulldogs doesn't mean the offensive line has its act together.
It doesn't mean the Tigers should catapult back into the Associated Press
poll (they didn't). It doesn't mean the talking heads on national television or
local radio should suddenly make nice with Tommy Bowden again.
It doesn't mean any of that.
What it does mean, however, is a baby step back in the right direction.
After being humiliated by the Crimson Tide on national television, after
having to answer questions about it on campus all week, and after being run
ragged by the coaching staff in practice leading up to Saturday, the Tigers
simply did what they should have done - beat an inferior opponent.
And that's not a swipe at The Citadel. Not in the least.
On the contrary, the admiration for Kevin Higgins and the job he's done at
the military-based school has done nothing but rapidly grow on this front. Last
season's first winning record in 15 years, coupled with a Top 20 FCS (there,
I said it) ranking this season, is one of the great stories nobody is
talking about outside of the Charleston area.
So to say Clemson should have throttled the Bulldogs isn't disrespecting
Higgins and his program.
It's simply pointing out the usual reality when schools from different
divisions meet, as they did last weekend at Death Valley.
But back to the original point. In the grand scheme of things, all Saturday
proved to be for Bowden and Co. was a chance to try and get things right.
Be better runners. Be better tacklers. Read keys and assignments better.
Dominate the line of scrimmage.
It's a list of things Clemson more or less accomplished by day's end. The
one significant area of concern was the pass defense, which gave up almost 340
yards to the Bulldogs.
But even there, one could see slight progress.
Andre Roberts, The Citadel's outstanding wide receiver, caught nine balls
for 153 yards and a touchdown. But only three of the catches and 13 of the yards
came in the second half, after defensive coordinator Vic Koening made a few
Don't misunderstand. Give up that many passing yards to a team in your own
division - in your own conference - and you likely find yourself in trouble
But because it was The Citadel, Clemson got away with it. And after the
previous week's debacle, no one is complaining.
But they are studying. The players, that is. And working. And trying to
Because while that effort was good enough to beat The Citadel, and likely
would be enough to take down N.C. State the following week, it won't fly on an
October Thursday night in Winston-Salem.
Or many other places.
So take Saturday for what it was. A beautiful day for the home opener, and
an easy victory for the team in orange.
But don't get carried away.
Heaven knows there's still much work to be done.
Monday Morning QB
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