We were at a handful of games around the Southeast this past weekend, including games in Florida,…
Clemson-Wake Forest video rewind
You're watching with eight or 83,000 of your closest friends, you're cooking, enjoying yourself, watching the wrong thing, and something important slips by. That's why I've started doing this feature – a weekly rewind of Clemson football, the good and the bad. It helps me pick things up, and I think it'll help you, too. Without further ado, here's what I picked up from ESPNU's broadcast of No. 3 Clemson 56, Wake Forest 7: We're welcomed to the broadcast by the ESPNU crew of Anish Schroff, Kelly Stouffer and sideline reporter Brooke Weisbrod (who is sporting a huge teal necklace). The broadcast opens with Schroff and Stouffer discussing how Clemson needs to get its offense in sync, and how Wake Forest is "searching for an identity on offense – and until they do that, they're going to rely on that defense." One of these two statements would work out well. Three plays into the game, Tajh Boyd goes deep down the right sideline for Sammy Watkins, making a perfect throw. Watkins shakes off a Wake cornerback and rolls 64 yards for the touchdown, a play Clemson's offense badly needed. The announcers initially think Watkins will be flagged for a push-off, but officials merely wave off the defensive pass interference call. Stouffer: "If you're going to push Watkins, push him over into the Gatorade so he doesn't get back on the field. And end up in the end zone like that." Right from the start, Clemson's defensive line goes at a Wake line that Schroff says is "being held together by duct tape," getting consistent pressure on quarterback Tanner Price. I wasn't impressed with the Tigers' offensive line early as end Kristopher Redding easily gets past right tackle Shaq Anthony – filling in for a concussed Giff Timothy – for a sack. Rod McDowell didn't help in pass protection, either. Smart move getting wideout Adam Humphries involved in the offense early with a pair of quick receptions. The announcers relay that Humphries – catchless at N.C. State – was told by Boyd, "Hey, dude, I still like you." When Zac Brooks finishes off a 63-yard touchdown drive with a bruising 10-yard run – I love the way Brooks runs – Stouffer says "Wake doesn't have an answer defensively, currently." Only one notable Clemson defensive bust in the first quarter: Martin Jenkins comes on a corner blitz, but he was supposed to be covering Harris, who gets the easiest 31-yard gain you'll ever see. Following Watkins' 77-yard season-opening score against Georgia, Clemson didn't have an offensive play longer than 36 yards in its next two games. The Tigers get two in the first seven minutes, thanks to D.J. Howard's 75-yard catch-and-run score. Excellent blocking on the play by Humphries and Watkins to spring Howard on the left sideline, and very poor tackling effort by Wake safety Ryan Janvion, who just kind of waves Howard on by as he breaks free. With Clemson up 21-0 early, Schroff says the N.C. State game was a 12-round brawl decided by the scorecard, while today, "you got a sense they wanted to throw some punches early, and they're on their way to a first-round TKO." On the next offensive drive, Tyler Shatley whiffs on Nikita Whitlock, who gets an easy sack. Stouffer says "there's way too much leakage going on up front at the line of scrimmage, and he's correct. Clemson played a clean game penalty-wise, with just four for 40 yards, but mistakes like a 12-men-on-the field call (created by Korrin Wiggins' confusion) leave Dabo Swinney irate. Up 21-0, Stouffer says, "We talk about Clemson's offense finding a rhythm – Wake Forest's offense hasn't had a rhythm all season." Yep, it's pretty ugly. It reminds me of those nights when you were a kid and your mom was tired, and she'd just throw a bunch of leftovers on the table and say, "Supper's on!" No identity. Wake's only touchdown comes when awesomely-named wideout Sherman Ragland III drags Travis Blanks into the end zone. Thought Blanks just had an OK day at safety. Clemson revives its momentum going deep to Watkins again, this time drawing a pass interference penalty. That's followed with a great fly screen to Humphries, who shows serious jets for a 31-yard gain. Stouffer had mentioned that Boyd didn't look as aggressive running the ball as he did in 2012, but Boyd proves him wrong. From the Wake 11, Boyd carries three of the next four plays. On fourth and 1 at the 2, he bulls his body forward for a second (or third) effort and a 28-7 lead. Really impressive. A silly running into the kicker penalty by Jayron Kearse spoils a three-and-out, but the defense just picks up right where it left off. Blanks nearly gets an interception following excellent pressure, and Spencer Shuey flattens tailback DeAndre Martin on a screen pass, "canceling" him, in Schroff's words. The ensuing drive shows the future of Clemson's offense: a pair of passes to freshman tight end Jordan Leggett moves the ball to the Wake 14, and fellow freshman wideout Mike Williams gets his first career touchdown catch with a sliding grab. Both really impressive players who should be a big part of this offense as the season rolls on. Jim Grobe at halftime: "Clemson's just a team full of athletes, and they're just good." Grobe tries out a new quarterback in third-teamer Tyler Cameron to start the second half. Spoiler alert: he's not going to work out. Beasley, Corey Crawford and the rest of the line converge on him, welcoming him to the game. His second drive ends by being stripped from behind by D.J. Reader, with Blanks recovering. At this point, the ESPNU crew is debating the intelligence of leaving Boyd and the first-teamers in the game, likening it to week 3 of the NFL preseason. Yikes, Wake. Boyd gets one final drive, and appears to end it with a twisting, diving run at the goal line. Instead, the call is reversed when it is ruled his right foot stepped out of bounds. Personally, I thought he was in, but C.J. Davidson finishes the drill with a one-yard run. It also took me several views to convince myself that Leggett was in bounds on an 18-yard touchdown grab that gives Clemson a 49-7 lead – his right foot just scraped the end zone in-line. At this point, it's all about younger players. Ben Boulware gets his first career interception by being in the right place at the right time. The announcers dig into their B-roll material. Schroff says "this is the window for Clemson where talent and experience go hand in hand," essentially a less-harsh version of Jesse Palmer saying the Tigers "must win this year" a week earlier. Stouffer: "If they get things going and peak at the right time, they'll be right in the middle of the national title hunt at the end." He calls Boyd "someone you'd build your program around, the face of the program, the face of the ACC, one of the marquee faces in college football." By the end, the only suspense is whether or not Daniel Rodriguez will reach paydirt for his first career touchdown. After three consecutive plays, he winds up just short of the goal line, and there is almost disappointment when Davidson scores his second touchdown of the day. But if that's the biggest problem, it was indeed a happy homecoming in Death Valley.
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