The Good, Bad and Ugly

CLEMSON - A look back at what went right, wrong and everything in between during Clemson's 43-23 victory against North Carolina State.

THE GOOD: Youth - One game can be luck. Two games can be a coincidence. What do you call five in a row? That's how many consecutive games the offense has scored at least 38 points. It looked as if Billy Napier and his youth were going to be the scape goat for all that went wrong earlier in the season, according to some, so it's only fair to give him credit when things go right. The last five defensive coordinators Napier has beaten have had an average of 19 years of coaching experience each. Yet this proved to be another game where Coach Napier kept the opposing defense guessing. More times than not they guessed wrong Saturday. I especially like the fact that Napier has used the running and catching attributes of Spiller to confuse defenses. At this point in the season defenses know they are going to see Spiller and the wheel route and they still can't defend it. Most of that is the talent of C.J. but part of it is the set up plays that lead up to that moment. How do you like the young guy now?

Go-to Guy - I worried that Clemson would not have a solid go-to receiver this year after the departure of Tyler Grisham. Michael Palmer was not on my radar to be that player because Clemson doesn't throw to the tight end, right? Wrong. We saw Palmer continue to make solid catches Saturday just like he has all year. Assuming the Tigers have four games remaining, Palmer needs to average just four receptions per game to break the Clemson single season reception total by a tight end.

Five of a Kind - Spiller threw for a touchdown this week. He has now scored in five different ways this season. Why doesn't Dabo send him out there for an extra point attempt? At least it would get the attention of the national media which is always a good thing when talking about Heisman hopefuls. Would you rather see No. 28 miss an extra point or our normal kickers?

Do or Dye - For the second week in a row Xavier Dye has played an important role in the offense. He caught two big passes Saturday. The first was a wide open touchdown pass from Spiller. The reason he was so open is because he did an incredible job of selling the play as a run. The other catch was a long third down conversion by way of a bullet throw from Parker.

The Hogs - The offensive line played like a championship unit Saturday. They dominated the line of scrimmage and are now getting solid second level blocks. This unit is getting better every week.

Pass rush - The defensive line was dominate at times. They consistently got a good push even when only rushing four players. The unit will only get better with the availability of Bowers this week.

The Pocket - A freshman quarterback should not have the pocket presence that Kyle Parker has. It is obvious that he trusts his blockers. He's not getting happy when he sees the tackles riding defenders past him. Kyle seems to be calm under pressure and just doesn't get rattled.

The lack of consistency in the kicking game has hurt the Tigers the last two weeks even if it hasn't prevented the win. (Roy Philpott)

Attention to Detail - Clemson did a good job in executing the little things that make average plays great. All eleven players seemed to be involved on every play. There were times that the defensive pursuit of the ball resembled a practice drill because they were all moving in unison. Offensively, wide receivers did a fantastic job of blocking. I don't get too upset with an occasional "illegal man down field" penalty because that means your O-Lineman have already blocked who they were supposed to block and were then out looking for someone else to hit. I didn't see a single player look like he was taking a play off.

Road Trip - The 5,000 or so Clemson fans that made the trip to NCST were loud and proud. It's always a good sign when you can hear C-L-E-M in cadence count on television even for away games.

Intensity - When NCST got the trash touchdown at the end of the game Kevin Steele had another meltdown similar to what he did at the end of the Coastal Carolina contest. It's comforting to know that there is no room for complacency with this coaching staff.

THE BAD: Lost Stats - By my estimation C.J. Spiller conservatively lost 125 return yards by NCST not kicking to him. I will take the field position that NCST was willing to give up but there should be a way to take this into account statistically. Spiller would have easily gone over the 300 all purpose yard mark if it would not have been for the Pack kicking away from him. Spiller had a remarkable impact on the starting field position just by being on the field but it will never show up in the box score.

Turn around - There are still defensive backs face guarding as opposed to playing the ball. That is something that young players usually grow out of so I don't see it as a major concern. It's hard to be critical of any aspect of the Clemson secondary but this was something I have noticed in the last couple of games.

Close Call - Congratulations to Jamie Harper for his 69 yard touchdown run. Releasing the ball on the goal line could have been bad, really bad. Dropping the ball has been an issue in the past. Let's not let it be an issue in the future.

Seeing Yellow - We saw the yellow flag way too much against NCST, especially on the defensive side of the ball. This is not really a concern of mine as it has not been a problem in the past. It does sting a little when a senseless penalty keeps the drive alive for the opponent. Love the aggression ... but let's be a little smarter about it.

Lip Reader - I would caution Coach Swinney and the other signal callers to be careful what they say. If I can read your lips when you are signaling in plays, chances are someone on the other sidelines can too. The television cameras showed Dabo doing this a half dozen times. There was one play where you could see him tell the running back to protect the ball, suggesting a run. On another you could see him mouth to Parker to "be smart" which suggests a pass. Maybe we could get Jack Leggett to give him some suggestions on the finer points of signal calling. I've watched Leggett for 13 seasons now and I still can't figure out his steal sign.

THE UGLY: I was not as impressed as some were by the Tigers' performance against FSU last week. This week, however, I felt as if the first half of the NCST game was the most complete half of football that Clemson has played all year. With that said, it was difficult to come up with anything worthy of an ugly rating but somehow I managed.

Not again - Another game with missed extra points. I'm speechless.

Wrap up - For the second week in a row the Clemson defense struggled with form tackling. I think it's easy for players to fall in love with the big hit to the point that they forget to wrap up and make a solid tackle. The defense does a great job of getting to the ball carrier but not so good in tackling them in open space.

Further Review - Everyone knows that replay is broken. C.J.'s fumble that wasn't called a fumble is yet another example of how Replay Officials continue to miss the obvious. It worked in the Tigers favor this time but I would rather not have a system at all than what we have now. Why don't we just put a guy in a booth with a quarter and let him flip it on every review. At least they would be right 50 percent of the time which is more than they are now. Top Stories