GRADES: This One Hurts ... Bad

CLEMSON - How do you try to spin a loss to Maryland after dominating the Terps in every way imaginable in the first half? You don't.

If you know the game of football, you know one of the reasons Clemson couldn't go down field more in the passing game as often as most fans would have liked was because of Maryland's defensive scheme. Playing a soft zone, there were limited opportunities for Cullen Harper to get the ball as deep as he would have liked. So that begs the question ... why give up on the running game? James Davis and C.J. Spiller both were right at the 100 yard mark by halftime and Clemson still lost. Also- Harper still wasn't sharp and threw another interception with no touchdowns and scoring no points after halftime against a defense like Maryland's is inexcusable. Clearly more work will have to be done if Clemson is going to have a chance to win any of its next four games, and no that's not a misprint. Lastly, credit C.J. Spiller for battling through cramps in the fourth quarter and providing the loudest cheer we've heard in Death Valley for quite some time, him and J.D's performance in the first half are the two lone reasons the offense avoids a failing grade.

For the first time in five games there were big hits worth talking about, including three alone by Brandon Maye, one by Chris Chancellor, two by Crezdon Butler and even Kavell Conner got into the mix. The defensive line also did an admirable job for three and a half quarters stopping the run, but is still woefully short when it comes to a pass rush. It's unfortunate because it appeared as though progress was made in the front seven, but it wasn't enough to lift the Tigers to the win. There's little doubt that more of the responsibility of the loss of this game rests on the shoulders of the offense, as Clemson gave up just 295 total yards, but the issues with getting pressure on the quarterback aren't getting any better either. Rashaad Jackson when will you be back?

The fumbled punt return by Jacoby Ford deep in Clemson territory kept the Terps' hopes alive in the first quarter after the Tigers stormed out of the gates to a 10-0 lead. Ford also called for a fair catch at his own five yard line, pinning the Tigers deep on another punt. That was the real story with special teams - poor field position as Jimmy Maners did not have one of his better games- averaging just 30 net yards on five punts.

Clemson lost to Maryland after dominating the Terps in just about every statistical category for the good part of three quarters. A long touchdown run was called back due to a holding penalty on Aaron Kelly, a late personal foul penalty on little-used Xavier Dye killed Clemson's last drive and a fumbled punt return deep in your territory forces one to write that you can't pin this one the coaches, but that won't make anybody feel better about it. Simply put, a loss like this can be devastating.

It's hard to feel anything other than disgust after a performance like that. Credit Maryland for making the big plays needed in the second to get the win but anybody who watched that game knows Clemson self-imploded across multiple levels. It happened for one game, and the Tigers now have two losses and sit at 3-2 with arguably their toughest game of the year looming in 10 days. What happens now? Top Stories