One week after being held out of the end zone, the Clemson offense found pay dirt five times in the first half alone against SC State.
The Tigers knocked off the overmatched Bulldogs 49-3 in the 2021 home opener on Saturday.
With this being a game against an FCS foe and Dabo Swinney emptying the bench, this week’s grades will focus on the starters at each position.
Quarterback: Don’t let the score fool you, quarterback play wasn’t the best. DJ Uiagalelei continued locking onto the primary target too long. He overthrew wide open guys, threw at least two balls up for grabs that could’ve been intercepted, and wasn’t consistently accurate. He also continues to struggle with touch on his passes, and threw one ugly pick. There were glimpses of greatness, but there is clearly a precipitous drop in production from last year. This has been a position of strength in recent years, but may very well be the weakest link on this team, at least right now in week 2… F
Running Back: Clemson had the running game churning, but that’s easy to do when the offensive line opens up holes the size of elephants against lesser competition. Will Shipley looks to be as good as advertised. Kobe Pace and Lyn J Dixon had solid showings as well. Dixon had a touchdown pass from Taisun Phommachanh. Although Michel Dukes did cough up the ball once… B
Wide Receiver: No busted routes (at least that I saw). Justyn Ross, Joseph Ngata, Ajou Ajou, and EJ Williams could be the best foursome of receivers this Clemson team has had. And that’s saying something. Beaux Collins contributed as well, with no apparent drop off at all. The only limit to their potential is not being able to throw the ball to them accurately. There was one drop, it might have been Joseph Ngata and there was one ball knocked lose by one defender while dodging another, but otherwise textbook performance… A
Offensive Line: As mentioned before, these guys opened up holes so big you could fit an elephant through them. Clemson could have ran the ball on every play and still named the score. Pass protection was just as good. It wasn’t against quality competition, but still nice to see after the abysmal showing a week ago… A
Tight End: Davis Allen had a couple of grabs for some yardage. Otherwise…they blocked well? There was discussion all off-season about getting these guys more involved in the offense, but clearly that hasn’t happened this far. With the lack of production the last few years you have to wonder if the offense would just be better off going with another receiver, running back, or offensive lineman instead of a tight end, since they aren’t really going to utilizing them… C
Special Teams: Clemson literally has the most “Will” of any special teams unit in the country. Will Taylor adds another dimension to this group, and ripped off a huge punt return while running through contact. He looks as sure handed as Will Swinney but much more athletic. Will Shipley had a good kick return. Will Spiers’ services weren’t needed very much, and BT Potter has become as reliable as Greg Huegel was. This would’ve been an A but Taylor did muff a punt… B
Defensive Line: This group is just nasty. SC State was overwhelmed, plain and simple. I’m not sure if their QB/RBs spent more time in the backfield than Clemson’s defensive line. Whether it was Tyler Davis, Bryan Bresee, Rule Orhorhoro, or anyone else, it really didn’t matter. State didn’t have room to breath, much less operate. This is the single best unit on the team. They look to to be on par with the 2018 team, with better depth… A+
Linebackers: As usual, James Skalski was everywhere. Baylon Spector was beaten on what looked to be a post route, and there were a couple missed tackles, but very few. This group displayed excellent sideline to sideline speed and closed open holes in a hurry to stifle what little room the Bulldogs did find… B
Cornerbacks: Clemson played tight coverage for the most part. There were a couple passes completed downfield, but not having rewatched the game yet I’m not sure it was on the corners. Andrew Booth Jr and Mario Goodrich both made some good plays and tackles… B
Safety: This group has had a shot in the arm with the play of RJ Mickens, who had a pick and Andrew Mukuba. Mukuba was all over the field, again, and has been one of the better freshman we’ve seen on the defensive side of the in recent memory… B
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