GRADES: Dream season continues

Tajh Boyd

CLEMSON - While the big news Saturday had everything to do with Tajh Boyd's hip injury, the defense is truly starting to shine for the Clemson Tigers.

OFFENSE: B+
Considering the Tigers recorded 500 yards of total offense and had a 100-yard rusher and a 150 yard receiver, it was far from an average outing. When you add in the fact the Tigers hadn't scored an offensive touchdown against Boston College in three years- well, this kind of production means a little more. Obviously everyone is concerned about Tajh Boyd, but it sounds like the injury wasn't nearly as bad as it looked (sprained hip, x-rays negative). Cole Stoudt came in after Boyd's injury and a did a solid job managing the game, minus one throw that should have been picked off. Dabo Swinney challenged Andre Ellington at halftime and the redshirt junior responded with a 35-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter- his longest since week two against Wofford. The offensive line did a decent job and play calling, as always, was superb. And, of course, you can't forget about Sammy Watkins. Ho-hum, just another 150-plus yards on seven catches. A good performance overall that would have received the "A" grade had there been more touchdowns and less field goals.

DEFENSE: B+
Another strong performance for Kevin Steele's unit as the Tigers limited B.C. to just 258 total yards and two touchdowns. Malliciah Goodman finally made a couple of big plays, picking up right where Andre Branch left off last week. Brandon Thompson continues to command double teams and quietly disrupts more plays that most realize. The secondary seems to be playing better as well. Even Spencer Shuey did a nice job coming off the bench. The missed tackles, for the most part, are a thing of the past, although they crept back into the mix on both B.C. touchdowns. All you need to know is this unit is playing better now than it did earlier in the season, and given the fact it lost five starters from last year's squad to the NFL, that's saying something. Let's keep the improvement coming, boys.


Tajh Boyd completed 16 of 26 passes for 283 yards and a touchdown and also added 37 yards and another score on the ground before going out in the third quarter with a hip injury. (Roy Philpott)
SPECIAL TEAMS: A
Chandler Catanzaro was perfect on five field goal attempts, including connecting from 47 yards out into a fierce wind. Dawson Zimmerman did a good job on kickoffs with one touchback - but there's work to be done with that area of Clemson's special teams. And what about the return game? Given the athletes the Tigers have returning punts and kicks, there hasn't been much of a threat in that department this year. With all that in mind, special teams still get an "A" riding the back of Catanzaro's strong outing.

COACHING: A
In the kind of game Clemson would have a letdown in during previous seasons, there was nothing of the sort Saturday afternoon. The play calls on both sides of the ball were solid once again and the team was motivated right out of the gates- bolting out to a 17-0 first quarter lead. Adjustments, as always were also good. What else could you ask for? Yes, it's an "A."

OVERALL: B+
Simply put, the dream season continues. The Tigers beat a team they traditionally struggle with and they did it in a convincing fashion. The next three weeks now loom larger than ever. Assuming Boyd comes back next weekend, and that could be a big "if," Clemson is clearly better than the 2-3 Maryland team it will face next Saturday night. How will the Tigers handle this kind of success against a non-ranked team that is struggling? Remember, two years ago Clemson lost to a Maryland program that won just two games all year. Is this a different team that will avoid those kinds of lapses in 2011? So far the answer appears to be yes, but the road only gets tougher from here on out.

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