It wasn't always a thing of beauty but the Tigers found a way to be slightly more effective on the ground (87 yards rushing) this week and they were also able to make enough plays in the first half to set the tone for a badly-needed win. And what else can you say about C.J. Spiller? He obviously was the difference between a win and a loss with 160 yards of total offense and a 64-yard kickoff return just seconds after Boston College took its first lead halfway through the fourth quarter. Spiller also fought his way back on the field before the game after suffering a hamstring injury three weeks ago and rebounded after banging his head on the turf Saturday night. Unfortunately, Cullen Harper once again wasn't sharp, throwing three interceptions, but did show the ability to escape pressure at several critical moments of the game- and keep in mind all of this is happening behind a patchwork offensive line. Harper's turnovers will have to stop though if the Tigers are going to have a chance to win any of the next four games.
All this unit does week to week is find a way to keep the team in the game. Chris Crane completed just 18-of-39 passes for 116 yards and Boston College managed just 120 yards on the ground and seemed to be stuck in neutral all game long. Meanwhile DeAndre McDaniel made the play the Tigers have needed for weeks when he forced a fumble from B.C. wide receiver Clarence Megwa. Unfortunately for Megwa, he broke his leg on the play but fortunately for the Tigers, they regained possession of the football during a critical juncture of the fourth quarter. Kavell Conner also had several big collisions and led the team in tackles with nine. Vic Koenning's unit continues to get the job done and should continue to improve in the coming weeks.
SPECIAL TEAMS: B
Mark Buchholz missed his first field goal of the season in the second half, but rebounded to drill a 42-yard field goal late in the fourth quarter to give the Tigers a six-point advantage. C.J. Spiller also had a 64-yard kickoff return on Clemson's last touchdown drive that stole momentum away from the Eagles after they blocked a punt and returned it for a touchdown and completed a 15-yard touchdown pass on fourth down. For the most part, it was another strong performance for Clemson's special teams- which have been solid all year. Keep an eye on Jacoby Ford in the coming weeks, for all of his production this year as a receiver, he has struggled in the return game- both in kickoffs and punts.
Again, the offense wasn't a thing of beauty but most of that can be attributed to the offensive line and a couple of poorly thrown balls by Cullen Harper. The offense took a major step forward in the first half by posting 17 points- mostly due to the timely running of C.J. Spiller. The defense was once again solid and the special teams continue to be a strength of the team game in and game out. Dabo Swinney continues to do all of the little things to get his team to play at a higher level and now his players will believe in him even more after picking up the win.
Give some credit to the players, especially C.J. Spiller, for bouncing back in the fourth quarter after a series of plays left you thinking "here we go again." It's almost like the program had to learn how to win games all over again since the coaching change and the disappointing start to the season and that's exactly what happened Saturday night at Alumni Stadium. What that means for the rest of the season is anybody's guess, but at least the players get a week to reflect on something positive, rather than negative for the first time in almost two months.
GRADES: Dabo Gets Win No. 1
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