Huge props to the Clemson Tigers who played a great game to knock off the #5 Georgia Bulldogs. Although it has no ACC Title implications, it has broader program implications (perception, recruiting) and possibly even BCS implications. Chad Morris was great. He was able to establish the run while still taking shots and creating havoc for Georgia DBs. His third down Boyd-run on the final Clemson drive was genius and worked to perfection. Venables’ defense showed growth. Dabo Swinney should immediately become recognized as an excellent head football coach. Check out this line from the AJC after the game:
Speaking of the Tigers’ adjustments, Clemson’s staff clearly outcoached Georgia’s much of the evening, making much more aggressive calls on both sides of the ball, with the exception of the Dogs’ last scoring drive, when the team in orange strangely sat back in prevent mode, allowing Murray to move Georgia 56 yards in 1:06 to pull within 3. Had the onside kick worked — always a longshot — we probably would be talking about the Dogs’ miracle comeback.
Some players really stood out last night. Obviously Tajh Boyd performed like a Heisman QB on a big stage once again, what’s new. Some other players really broke through as well so let’s give them their spotlight:
Roderick McDowell: There was no drop off at all with the loss of now Arizona Cardinal, Andre Ellington. McDowell showed both speed and power. The Clemson backfield is in great hands with “Hot Rod” and Zac Brooks, who was also great.
Spencer Shuey: Big tackle after big tackle, Shuey seemed to be everywhere in Death Valley. He finished with 12 tackles and a recovered fumble.
C.J. Jones: A walk-on RS Senior cornerback made a potential game saving play. On a UGA punt that looked like it would stop inside the Clemson five yard line, a Clemson player (Ben Boulware) touched the ball setting up the Dawgs to get a touchdown or at least a safety off the blunder (it looks like he was pushed into the ball and a turnover wouldn’t/shouldn’t have stood). Out of nowhere C.J. Jones scooped it up and escaped the end zone. There’s a chance the refs would have reviewed it and given Clemson the ball, Davis made a great play so it never even came to that.
Corey Crawford: After an ugly muffed punt by Sammy Watkins, Venables dialed up a play where the defensive end dropped back into coverage and brought the pressure elsewhere. Aaron Murray didn’t see Crawford who picked it off. Adam Humphries replaced Watkins as the punt returner for the rest of the game (and I would like to see Humphries continue moving forward).
Bradley Pinion: He pinned three punts inside the 20 and smashed one 55 yards. He also kicked it deep enough to get a touchback on
seemingly every kickoff. If you remember the FSU game last season, you’ll remember this can be very crucial. Clemson special teams are in a great place at the moment.
Vic Beasley: We knew he could bring the pass rush and his sack ignited the defense.
Todd Gurley: Although it’s all about the Clemson Tigers right now, I’d be remiss to not mention Mr. Gurley for a moment. He was unbelievable. In fact, outside of CJ Spiller, he may be the best college running back I’ve seen (in person). He has power running ability, but also the speed to break off 75-yarders.
Charone Peake and Stanton Seckinger also looked good and will be key moving forward. Who else should we be talking about?
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