It wasn't just bad. It was really bad. No, actually it was as bad as we've seen at Clemson in years. After having 11 days to prepare for the Deacons, Clemson came out and promptly went three-and-out in each of its first four possessions. More bubble screens, more ill-timed runs and not surprisingly, even less production than what we've seen in previous weeks. In fact, the Tigers didn't move the chains once. until less than seven minutes remained in the second quarter. Cullen Harper amazingly took another step backwards and should be replaced for next week's game against Georgia Tech. Sure, the injuries up front have to be mentioned, but the lack of creativity and the predictability at this point are unforgivable. 21 yards rushing combined with 15-of-35 passing and just 2-of-14 on third downs tell you all you need to know about what happened in this game. At this point the entire offense should be scraped for something new.
Make no mistake, the defense played well enough to win, but still gave up 342 total yards. The red zone defense was particularly strong, keeping Wake Forest out of the end zone until 5:28 remained in the game. A great play was made by a diving Crezdon Butler to keep the Deacs out of the end zone early in the first quarter. By the way, isn't it amazing what a running quarterback can do for an offense? Check the stats to confirm Riley Skinner led the Deacs in rushing with 74 on the ground. This grade would be higher were it not for Wake Forest converting on 10-of-21 third down conversions.
SPECIAL TEAMS: C
Nothing really noteworthy here other than the fact freshman punter Dawson Zimmerman did a good job in his first action since the season-opening loss to Alabama (40.6/punt). Unfortunately the only way the Tigers were going to win this game would have been to run a punt or kickoff back and that didn't happen- resulting in the C grade.
No matter how well the defense played, the offense, including play calling and overall execution was so poor there's no way any other grade could be awarded. What else you can say? It was bad all the way around. The offense was lifeless and predictable once again and never made any kind of noteworthy adjustment throughout the entire game.
What's more disheartening than anything else is to put what has happened so far this season in proper perspective. Given all of the talent assembled on offense, including several players with first or second-round potential in next year's draft, not only will this team not win the Atlantic Division, it won't even come close. Ouch. What happens now is anybody's guess but clearly the football program under Tommy Bowden is at a crossroads and the pressure from unruly boosters and fans is about to reach a level we've never seen at Clemson- and that's saying something.
GRADES: This Changes Everything
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