CLEMSON - Insider news and notes from Monday afternoon's interviews with Chad Morris and select…
Clemson - Syracuse 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 ABC's broadcast of No. 3 Clemson 49, Syracuse 14: We're welcomed to the broadcast by the ABC crew of Sean McDonough, Chris Spielman and sideline reporter Shannon Spake – a very solid, professional crew who treat viewers like adults and don't talk down to them. The crew notes that Syracuse has to have a good start from sophomore quarterback Terrel Hunt, who said this week that he wants to "outshine" Tajh Boyd. Hunt led the Orange to 54 points against Wagner, but the announcers note that bad throws that are completed against Wagner are incompletions or interceptions against Clemson. McDonough mentions that Boyd told him Syracuse "has done more talking than any team I've ever faced." Clemson did a pregame walk-through of the Carrier Dome, a rarity for Dabo Swinney. Spake said Swinney came up to him and said in pregame, "This place is awesome!" Adam Humphries – virtually ignored two weeks ago at N.C. State – is a big part of the offense early again. On the game's second play, he gets past a missed tackle for a big gain. Then, Boyd gets a safety to bite on play-action, and finds Humphries streaking deep down the right sideline for a 60-yard touchdown – and 7-0 lead – 38 seconds into the game. McDonough notes that Syracuse coach Scott Shafer felt it was important for his team to come out relaxed, something that didn't happen in early losses to Penn State and Northwestern. "They don't look loose this game, either." Boyd looks sharp, throwing a nice 18-yard gain to Stanton Seckinger that prompts Spielman to say that "mental errors are killing Syracuse right now." On cue, Syracuse takes a 12-men-on-the-field penalty when a punt returner comes out on third down. "12 men on the field," McDonough said, "which is one way to stop the Clemson offense." Watkins shows veteran savvy on a third and 10, sitting in the middle of a zone and waiting for Boyd to find him for a first down. Not so savvy? Right tackle Shaq Anthony, who allows a Syracuse end to go around him and tip a Boyd pass, which is nearly intercepted on the deflection. Two players stand out early on Clemson's defense – defensive tackle Grady Jarrett and linebacker Spencer Shuey, who makes yet another crushing hit with good recognition on a screen pass. Not sure there's much that Humphries could have done on Syracuse punter Riley Dixon's 75-yard punt, which hits and rolls deep in Clemson territory. It was just a perfect bounce and roll. Following a nice cradling grab by freshman wideout Mike Williams (who continues to grow on me), McDonough announces that "Zac Brown rips through the middle." Or Zac Brooks. Whatever it is, I suppose you could say. McDonough does correct himself on the next play, a great cross-field throwback to Brooks for a solid gain. At this point, Clemson is dominating with short screens and throwbacks. McDonough says Chad Morris will be "a head coach someday soon" but notes his salary and says "he's not going to leave for just any opportunity." He adds moments later that Syracuse looks very confused defensively. Excellent leaping catch by Watkins with a back-shoulder grab to the Syracuse 1 that sets up Brooks for an easy touchdown. Even pinned back at its own 8, Clemson showed no worries in a 10-play, 92-yard touchdown drive. It was an impressive feat. Shafer tells his offensive line "to go to work right now." The Orange commits a holding call and goes three-and-out. While he seemed to run on every other down against Wake Forest, Boyd was much more of a pocket passer against the Orange. But when he ran, it was effective – mostly – including a 16-yard scramble here in the first quarter. But why run when you could pass to Adam Humphries? Humphries comes wide open down the right sideline and spins out of a tackle into the end zone for a 42-yard touchdown. He had a career day in less than a quarter. Perfectly-run wheel route past a safety. Boyd has thrown for 215 yards in the first quarter. "That's how you build a Heisman candidacy," McDonough says. One of the day's first real warts shows up on Jerome Smith's 66-yard touchdown run. It appeared Will linebacker Tony Steward got washed into a block, and safety Travis Blanks took a very poor angle. Blanks is hurt later on a punt return – he didn't have a great day. Fellow defensive back Bashaud Breeland is having a solid season, and he comes up with a nice pass breakup, followed by an athletic interception of Hunt. Following a great touchdown toss from Boyd to Stanton Seckinger, Spielman says every wideout Clemson has sports an NFL body, and offers effusive praise of Boyd. "He's an intelligent player who protects the football well, understands weaknesses of the defense and throws very catchable balls in stride," Spielman says. D.J. Reader comes up with a nice sack, and his two-sport football/baseball status is brought up. "I'd step in the baseline on him once in a while," Spielman says. Meanwhile, Boyd just keeps rolling, finding Martavis Bryant – who splits a corner and safety – for a 40-yard touchdown and 35-7 lead. Darius Robinson is another reason why Clemson's secondary has improved. Good job of jumping a Hunt route for an interception. At this point, Boyd is just "playing sandlot ball," McDonough says following a pair of deep looks to Germone Hopper. Following one breakup, Syracuse corner Julian Whigham is quite exuberant. "Julian Whigham, you kidding me with that gesture?" McDonough says. "There's a scoreboard over his shoulder he might want to look at. That's someone that's totally unaware." Spielman: "A dose of humility would do Julian well." One of Boyd's first truly poor throws of the season hurts him as he throws too high for the 6-foot-5 Williams, and Whigham intercepts. Naturally, he's excited. When Clemson gets the ball back following solid defensive line play from Vic Beasley and others, the talk turns to the BCS and style points, as well as running up the score – since Clemson leads 35-7. "We had Clemsoning, where they'd lose a game or two they shouldn't lose," McDonough says. "Lately they're just hammering everyone they play." If I'm Dabo Swinney and Chad Morris, I'm not pleased with Clemson's goal-line execution in the final drive of the first half. Shafer isn't pleased with the fact that Swinney tried for a touchdown instead of a field goal, firing some salty, NSFW language across the field. McDonough: "What Dabo Swinney did is borderline running it up. It's what you have to do in this era, but it stinks." I wasn't impressed with Clemson's urgency on offense or defense for much of the third quarter. Syracuse receiver Ashton Broyld gets behind Martin Jenkins for a 32-yard gain, and then safety Robert Smith misses a tackle on Prince Tyson-Gulley's 28-yard touchdown run to give the Orange some momentum. Brent Venables tells Spake his players "took some plays off" and tells his players "we got ourselves in a hole and we need to get out." Robinson helps with his second interception of the day, but on the very next play, a Boyd pass intended for Seckinger is tipped and intercepted. Review shows the Syracuse defender scraped his foot in bounds. Luckily for Clemson, the Tigers' defense wakes up. Beasley makes two big plays on Hunt, the second of which is nearly a pick-6 after Hunt throws it up for grabs in Beasley's grasp – luckily for him, his knee was down. Ever-helpful, Syracuse misses a field goal and stunts its own momentum. A rare mistake costs Boyd as he misses Watkins open in the flat. He waits too long and Marquis Spruill shoots the gap and hits him quite hard. Boyd trots off with pain in his left (non-throwing) hand. Linebacker Ben Boulware gets his left knee bent the way you don't want it to bend on punt coverage. Fortunately, it's only a hyperextension. Syracuse's fake punt is ultimately inconsequential, but perfectly executed. Missed tackle by safety Taylor Watson at the line of scrimmage. Deep in their own territory, the Orange don't help themselves with a two-yard pass route on a fourth and three. Just after Spielman says Clemson's offense "took their foot off the gas pedal and now they can't get it back in gear," Boyd strikes one last time. He tosses it deep down the left sideline to Watkins, who accelerates past the safety for a 91-yard touchdown, the second-longest offensive play in Clemson history. Besides a C.J. Davidson score and a late Jayron Kearse interception, the fourth quarter is largely meaningless. Which is exactly what you want on the ACC road, right?
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