Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Tire Fire

             After watching South Carolina dispatch Clemson like a rented mule I was pissed. Pissed because losing to South Carolina is just unacceptable. It was apparent early on in the ball game the Clemson coaching staff did not care, they were not interested in the outcome of this game in the least. It is not a big deal to them that people have been defending them during this four game nightmare as this team flounders.

            We were fed the all of our goals are still out there, we will get it fixed, this is the biggest game of the year and come out with the effort they came out with Saturday? This Clemson team did not have a chance in this ball game, in spite of the numerous opportunities the Clemson defense gave the offense, especially in the second half.

            I am not making 180k a year to coach football so anything I write is merely theoretical thinking but I am going to write it any way because football is a simple enough of a game that a team like South Carolina can play basic football and kick its opponent’s ass up and down a field for 6o minutes.

            Everyone and their mother knew Clemson was not going to be able to block the South Carolina front four, especially on deep drop back passes. There are things you can do against an athletic front four. You can max protect, you can roll your quarterback out, use the screen game or utilize the three-step drop to get rid of the ball quickly. We basically saw none of this in the Clemson game plan. 

            If you cannot block a team rushing four on five and seven steps drops then you have to switch it up. Please feel free to do something. Is not the definition of insanity trying the same thing over and over after getting the same result, thinking it will somehow change? For some reason, this team has linebackers who are coached not to read and attack the line of scrimmage. For some reason this team has a secondary who could not slow down a Pop Warner team because of its dependence of man coverage. For some reason this team does not know that fundamental tackling involves wrapping up, playing with low pad level and running through the ball carrier.

            While we the fans and supporters are made to be morons, while we are being lied to why should we care? I am honestly trying to figure out why in the hell am I so freaking pissed off when I am a fan of a team who’s coaching staff failed their team. If Coach Swinney fails his team and thinks it is ok then there is no reason for me to defend this coaching staff or to get upset over something I had no direct involvement.

            There is a difference is losing and getting beat. These guys are getting beat up and down the field. This is a team that has no confidence whatsoever, especially on the offensive side of the ball. There has to be a way to get back to basics. I know the coaching staff did the responsible thing by taking Phillip Price out of the ball game but he has to be able to play next week in Charlotte. Get a hyperbaric chamber for him to sleep in, call in a witch doctor. It is terrible how one injury has decimated this team.

            Yes I am out of my mind pissed off about 9-3 as should every Clemson fan under the sun. It is not an issue of being 9-3 it has everything to do with what has transpired in the process of getting to this point. Momentum and confidence are a huge part of the college game and when you have it, you feel like you can beat anybody, when you lose it, you feel like you cannot beat anybody. That is where this team is at this point.
            In the midst of the pain and frustration there is another game to be played next weekend in Charlotte. While Clemson has willingly relinquished the role of state dominance, there is a chance this team could win the ACC for the first time since 1991.

            The thought of winning a conference title is almost laughable after what has happened during the last four games of the season but the opportunity is still there. The chance to do something that has not been done in a long time is out there for the taking. I am not sure what this team can do to make that a reality because you will see a carbon copy offensive game plan from Virginia Tech next week. In the same way Clemson is not the same team it was back in early October, the Hokies have found their identity offensively with quarterback Logan Thomas as the table setter.

            I am going to say it now, be prepared to see more quarterback runs next Saturday. Thomas is a more physical runner than Connor Shaw but is capable of being just as effective in the running game. The Hokies have running back David Wilson who has put up excellent numbers throughout the season. They have a defense that has held its own despite some key injuries up front and at linebacker.

            Silver lining in all of this? Their front four is not nearly as dominant as South Carolina. Virginia Tech regardless of their ranking going into the game on Saturday is not unbeatable but they are confident. They have payback on their mind and it will take an out of body type experience by Clemson next Saturday in order for Clemson to win.

            Back in October Clemson won the battle up front on both sides and did a nice job making enough plays on offense to get a huge win on the road. The Clemson defense neutralized Thomas and Wilson was not a factor despite going over 100 yards rushing on the ground. Andre Branch went back to his home state and had a field day in the Virginia Tech offensive backfield.

            It is going to take that type of effort if the Tigers have a glimmer of hope in winning in Charlotte Saturday night. Lets face it this defense is not going to stop anyone at this point, not Edwards Middle School, let alone an offense with a mobile quarterback like Logan Thomas. The only hope at this point is to contain Thomas and Wilson and hope they do not make too many plays down the field or this one gets ugly early.

            I will be honest. I am not enamored with the Hokies, I am sorry Turkey fans, you do not have a chance to play for a National Title and if you did, you would get your brains beat in so bad, you would need dental records to identify the remains. They are not complex on offense but the Hokies will be facing a defense that allegedly, knew what South Carolina was going to do and how did that work out? They are going to try to get David Wilson going in the ground game on the perimeter. I have never seen a running back run so fast towards the sideline in my life. In order to stop this, Clemson has to be physical up front and the linebackers have to play downhill and force Wilson back inside. (I just laughed when I wrote that but it is the truth)

            To be honest unless the defensive staff is prepared to swallow their pride and change things up, play less man coverage, get the linebackers playing downhill instead of taking false steps, Clemson has no chance. All night long the Clemson linebackers were seen taking steps backwards and having linemen in perfect position to make blocks three seconds after the Clemson linebackers had diagnosed the play. I don’t care what level of football you are playing if you first steps are backwards as a linebacker you are done.

            Clemson cannot have their back seven running around with their backs to the football while a quarterback is running for 20 yards. You cannot grab at a Division-1 skill player and think you are going to arm tackle them. Tackling is like free throw shooting, it has nothing to do with talent but everything to do with repetition and attention to detail. You cannot run into an opponent and expect them to go down, especially with a low center of gravity like David Wilson and a quarterback with Cam Newton-esque size. Virginia Tech is going to lull you to sleep with the run and then throw the ball down the field to one of their serviceable wide receivers. There is not much else to say other than hope for the best.

            Offensively Clemson is a dumpster fire. The Clemson offensive line is softer than down comforter. The offensive line was effective in pass protection for eight games. Their run blocking has been something to be desired throughout and as teams have adjusted what how they play in the secondary, the wheels have slowly come off the ship. You can have the good Lord himself lined up in the backfield or at receiver but if you put the Clemson offensive line in front of Him, even he would have to work overtime to make anything happen.

            Tajh Boyd is pressing, he is not accurate, and is lacking in his decision-making. A lot of that comes from running for your life but his pocket presence is horrendous. His inability to step up in the pocket and to show just a little bit of mobility he is done. Opponents are right, if you can put pressure on Boyd he will fold like a tent. At this point given how poorly the offensive line is playing I am calling out Chad Morris.

            You have an offensive line that is about as competent as White House Chief of Staff Billy Daley. Instead of being creative with the three step passing game, screen game, rolling your quarterback out, you continue to put him in danger by calling five and seven step drop pass plays that your offensive line is not capable of blocking at this point. I am sorry. It is apparent that if Phillip Price is not effective, this Clemson offensive line is not capable of holding up against a stout pass rush. What is Coach Morris prepared to do to help this offense be successful?

            Saturday, Clemson was starting to have some success on the ground and he ultimately went away from it. It was overall a disappointing effort from the coaching staff from top to bottom. Despite the personnel issues, especially on defense, coaches have to put players in position to be successful and unfortunately the Clemson staff failed miserably last week at preparing this team to win.

            There is not much to say about next week going against Virginia Tech. There is no reason to believe that the light will come back on for this Clemson team.  I fully expect this one to get ugly early. There is no getting around it. This team has lost its mojo and Virginia Tech is not the team that is going to willingly allow you to regain it. I am looking forward to spending time with friends next week but unless this team spends the week with a sports shrink and the coaching staff decides to come to terms with the reality of this team’s current limitations it will be an evening of Hokie Coronation on Saturday night. 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

No Not Again.......

            There was five minutes left in the 3rd quarter, the Tigers had just played the worst 10 minutes of the season and all I could think, “Please, please not again”. With 20 minutes of football left to be played I knew there was enough time but was there enough defense or enough offensive execution to get the Tigers back in the game? I have to be honest, I would have had to been taken to a mental hospital if Clemson had lost Saturday. There was no way anyone could have stopped the tirade that would have ensued. Someone was looking out for the public good and once again, this team showed true mettle down the stretch and came away with a 31-28 victory over Wake Forest to claim its second Atlantic Division title in three years.

            Lets go back to Columbus Day 2008. I remember getting a call from my dad saying, “it’s over”. Referring to the termination of then head coach Tommy Bowden. At that point, Clemson was coming off of a bad loss at Wake Forest. The program seemed in disarray and was now under the leadership under a guy who had been the wide receivers coach, just hours before. Fast forward to the present and Clemson will play for an Atlantic Coast Conference Championship for the second time in three years. I think Clemson fans should take a few moments to revel in the progress that has been made and credit coach Swinney for the job he has done to put his stamp on the program and continued ability to recruit high caliber athletes to Clemson.

            Clemson fans cannot forget about last season. Offensively, Clemson resembled an out of control dumpster fire. It was a team with out an identity and seemingly could not get out of its own way. I remember being in the West End Zone for the South Carolina game and having a mini meltdown because I was sick of watching my team be toyed with like a punk. I had long voiced my frustration towards the coaching staff, especially on the offensive side of the ball due to their inability to put teams with good to great talent in position to win games.

            Last season happened and there is no excuse that can legitimize what occurred on the field. Though it did not seem like it at the time, Coach Swinney is not as stupid as I was beginning to think he was after watching Clemson stumble at the end of the 2010 season. Do I agree with every call? Of course not but I do know that he is far from the village idiot that many people outside of Clemson attempt to make him out to be. First Coach Swinney is an intelligent man who was groomed in one of the most successful programs in the country, secondly as reports support after the dismissal and additions of staff members, Coach Swinney on his own had begun to look at staff changes before the conclusion of the 2010 season.

            Staff changes are made in January, in February, Clemson signs a Top 10 recruiting class, and there is positive buzz around the program. There is an excitement about the new offensive scheme that promised to be more explosive. Move forward to the middle of September Auburn came to Clemson, jumps on the Tigers early but the 2011 Clemson Tigers showed they were a different bunch by coming back after being down 14 points. Here we are with two games remaining 9-1 with an opportunity to close out an 11-1 regular season. Let that marinate on your mind for a few minutes.

            Back to Saturday’s game and being a mental case. I would be equally distraught if I were a Wake Forest football player or coach. Your team forces three turnovers that lead to 14 points, commit one penalty, and return a punt for a touchdown and lost? How in the world does that happen? There are not many circumstances where that happens and a team loses a ball game.

            You have to give Wake credit. I thought they came out focused and ready to play for 60 minutes. I honestly thought Clemson could prey upon a solid team that was coming off of an emotional game at home the previous week and coast to victory. I was wrong to say the least.

            The Demon Deacons came to Clemson with a good game plan. Defensively, they dropped eight in coverage and made Tajh Boyd try and nickel and dime them, something that worked effectively for over two quarters of football. In turn Boyd could have thrown eight interceptions on Saturday compared to the three that went in the box score. It was ugly to say the least. Clemson continues to struggle in the run game despite rushing for a final total of 179 yards. The Clemson guards are soft. Antoine McClain and Brandon Thomas have generated no push and are largely responsible for the inefficiency of the Clemson running game.

            Offensively, Wake leaned on their big and experienced offensive line and just worked Clemson like a dog. In the passing game they gave Price all the day in the world to complete passes and he did with good efficiency. It was frustrating to watch the defense not get pressure or not secure sacks. Wake came into the game with one of the worst rushing offenses in the nation, shows up in Death Valley and running back Brandon Pendergrass rushes for 134 yards and two touchdowns.

            After going up 28-14 Wake Forest would have the ball four more times and those drives ended with Punt, Punt, Missed Field Goal and Punt. Clemson was able to go on three scoring drives that included two touchdowns and the game winning field goal from Chandler Catanzaro.

            As frustrating as Saturday was Clemson rolled up 522 yards of total offense and held Wake Forest to 317 yards of total offense. The lack of numbers for Wake come from getting the ball on turnovers on a short field but when the dust cleared those are not bad numbers. Clemson made its move without the services of Super Frosh Sammy Watkins who had gone out of the game with a shoulder injury. The area of concern continues to be turnovers. Clemson has turned the ball over seven times in the last two games and lets be honest should have been two Clemson losses.  Clemson cannot continue to turn the ball over and expect to win. 

            Fixing the turnover issue started Monday with film review and practice. Clemson heads to Raleigh Saturday with the Atlantic Division in hand a date with South Carolina looming the following week, you catch my drift?

I am not sure what to make of NC State. This is a team that has been up and down like the stock market. Wolf Pack head coach Tom O’Brien came under tremendous scrutiny after he parted ways with three-year starter Russell Wilson who played professional baseball during the off-season. Wilson is now at Wisconsin where he is having a fine season in Madison. Wilson’s replacement Mike Glennon has put up good numbers this year having thrown for over 2000 yards with a 20-10 touchdown to interception ratio. The Pack has several receivers who can make plays. We cannot forget about preseason All-ACC tight end George Bryan who has not put up the numbers many expected but is a big play threat.

            The Clemson defense will have their hands full with junior running back James Washington who has shown the ability to get things going on the ground. Clemson must find a way to play with better run fits with their linemen and linebackers. Last Saturday, the linebackers seemingly were non-existent on Wake’s two long rushing touchdowns that came on basic plays. I would expect NC State to make a concerted effort to establish the ground game and keep Clemson off balance with a steady passing game.

            As Jekyll and Hyde as NC State has been this season, they are good enough to beat the Tigers if they cannot get off the field on defense, turn the ball over and cannot sustain drives. This is a NC State that has struggled to score points in its last four games. They were shutout against Florida State, scored 13 against North Carolina and 10 points last week in a loss to Boston College. Sadly with Clemson’s defensive woes the last several weeks, I expect NC State to move the ball effectively against the Tigers. The key is going to be keeping them out of the end zone.

            Offensively, Clemson is going to face the leading interceptions leader in the nation David Amerson with 10 picks on the year. If Tajh rolls into Carter-Finley thinking he is Brett Farve on Saturday, it could get interesting. NC State likes to bring pressure and mix coverage, it is going to be imperative that Tajh goes through his progressions and not be afraid of his check downs. Anything Clemson gets from the running game should be counted as money in the bank. The Tigers will continue to struggle running the football as long as the guards are unable to get a push. I am interested to see how the absence of tackle Phillip Price will impact the Clemson run game. Guard Brandon Thomas will move to tackle while 5th year senior David Smith takes over at guard. This was the combination that was in the game late last Saturday that helped Andre Ellington break a couple long runs.

            The game Saturday in Raleigh will boil down to Tajh Boyd’s decision making. If Boyd goes out Saturday over zealous, it will cost Clemson. If he is smart with the football, Clemson is hard to stop. Clemson cannot just show up and win. NC State needs one win in its last two games to be bowl eligible. NC State looks solid one game, then looks terrible the next. I hate to say it but the Pack was awful on Saturday in Chestnut Hill, so I would expect them to play with enthusiasm as they host a Top 10 team in their stadium.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Win and you're in......

              I have to admit it has been hard to focus on Clemson football this week given the news that broke last Saturday in State College, PA. At this point, I am suffering from saturation from the rhetoric but I will say, I have a lot of mixed emotions about the situation. My heart goes out to the victims and my thoughts are with Penn State alums, most of whom have an unabashed loved and commitment to their alma mater and must be struggling to grapple with a terrible situation.

            While we would not know it from what we are seeing on ESPN and what is being talked about on WCCP there is a huge football that will take place in a few hours at Death Valley. I am sitting here listening to the Tiger Pregame Show and I feel like I can actually write with a clear mind knowing that the focus is on Clemson and not other events that have been at the forefront this week.

            Today’s game will not be a cakewalk. Wake has some good pieces who if they can get going can give Clemson fits. Remember this is a team that beat FSU, took Virginia Tech to the wire, played very well last week against Notre Dame and most importantly control their own destiny to get to Charlotte. If there is any complacency amongst Tiger fans, if Clemson loses to Wake this weekend, the Demon Deacons have Maryland next week to close out their ACC slate and with a win against the Terps would head to Charlotte.

            As sobering of thought that may be I expect this Clemson team to really come out and perform well this week. Coming off the bye week this team had been grinding for 14-15 weeks going back to the start of fall camp and nine hard fought football games. There is no doubt that they needed some time away, many guys needed a chance to get healthy, and recharge their mental batteries. I feel like they were able to accomplish that and have been able to flush the Georgia Tech loss and really focus on the task at hand.

            Wake Forest is led offensively by Sophomore quarterback Tanner Price and receiver Chris Givens. It should be noted that Chris Givens is the leading receiver in the ACC ahead of Clemson freshmen Sammy Watkins. Again, if you are sleeping on the Demon Deacons, they have a kid who has had a better statistical season up to this point than a guy who most believe will be National Freshman of the Year. Tanner Price is very efficient with the football, does not turn the ball over and does a good job of getting the ball to people like Givens and letting them make plays. Also expect Wake to take their shots deep as most other teams have against the Clemson man defense.

            You cannot forget about running backs Josh Adams and Brandon Pendergrass both are capable of taking a game over on the ground. I would also would not be surprised to see some read option from the Deacons to see if they can take advantage of the Clemson defense and their inability to slow down quarterbacks in the run game. Wake may have the biggest offensive line Clemson has faced all year. That is something to keep an eye on during the game.

            Clemson is going to have to tackle well in space today. They are going to have to play well with their eyes and remain on their keys. Price gets the ball out quickly so the Tigers will have to be creative in disguising coverage and how they affect the quarterback. These guys have stepped up when the team has needed it. As much criticism as the defense got coming off the Georgia Tech loss, the reality is they gave the offense enough opportunities to go out and win the game in Atlanta. I believe they will do the same today.
            Defensively Wake will bring in one of the smallest defensive lines you will see in  Football Bowl Subdivision but do not let that fool you into thinking that Clemson will be able to just steam roll these guys. They play with great effort and pad level. They will slant, twist and utilize their quickness and agility to create havoc for the Clemson offensive line. 

            The Deacons have athletic linebackers who do a nice job against the run and are solid in coverage. The guy you need to look for is safety Josh Bush who is very comfortable in pass coverage and leads Wake in interceptions. Corner Merrill Noel leads the ACC in Passes Defended. Wake Forest has some guys who are not afraid to mix it up in the box. I am excited to see how they choose to approach the potent Clemson receiver corps. I would expect them to give Tajh Boyd a lot of different looks in an attempt to confuse him and force some poor decisions.

             There is a chance Clemson could get kickoff specialist Spencer Benton back today after he broke a collarbone against Virginia Tech. That has been a glaring issue in regards to field position in his absence. It has been reported that Coach Swinney would like to sit him for one more week but it would not surprise me if we see him today. I would also like to see the Catman hit some field goals when we have to have them. Dawson Zimmerman continues to have a good season punting the ball and that needs to continue today.

            The game today boils down to how Clemson responds coming off the bye week. There is a trip to Charlotte at stake, this will be the last time our seniors play in the Death Valley and I can’t tell you how important it is for them to go out with a win. We have a chance to go undefeated at home in over 20 years. There is a lot to be excited about going into the game today. Despite the noon kick, I hope there is a great crowd and look forward to being in the Valley and hopefully celebrating an Atlantic Division Championship later this afternoon. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Breathe in...Breathe Out

            The sting of defeat often lingers longer than the joy of victory. There is still a bitter taste in the mouths of Clemson fans on November 1. I know many are disappointed but lets take some time this week to try to have some perspective and take a look at where this football team is now that it has arrived at its Open Date. I will take some time to evaluate position groups and also look to the future from a personnel perspective.

            I think it is important to reiterate that this Clemson team is ranked 11th in the most recent BCS standings, which means that this they can work their way back up the rankings and possibly earn a final Top 5 ranking when all the dust settles. This team is a good outing against Wake Forest away from clinching the Atlantic Division title. This program is two good outings away from a 7-1 conference record, three good efforts from a 11-1 regular season. There is still a lot to be excited about and time to look back on the wild and crazy that has been the 2011 football season.

            I have said several times in my writing, how many people would have said, blah, blah, blah on September 2. I will ask on more of these antagonizing questions. How many people on September 2 would have said this team would not lose its first game until the end of October? Uh huh, not many if any out there could have seen the nine game stretch Clemson fans have seen to open the season. Lets be real, if someone said to you on First Friday, “Hey I have magic powers and I can guarantee that Clemson will be 8-1 going into November will you take it?” There is not a soul out there that would have not taken it and run.

            Losing stinks and losing to Georgia Tech stinks even worse. Note, this blog written by a person who grew up in Atlanta and dealt with their, “I would not know a football if it hit me square in the head,” mentality. They won the game, they did what they had to do on the field and there is a chance Clemson could see them again in Charlotte on December 3.

            Back to the task at hand, where is this football team nine games into the season? Throughout the week I am going to take a look at the offensive side of the ball and evaluate the position groups including punter and kicker.

            Here on November 1, the Clemson Tigers rank 5th in the nation in total offense. Let that simmer on your mind for a minute. The only teams who have been more productive offensively are Georgia Tech, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma and Houston. The Tigers have rolled up 4259 yards of total offense a mere 94 yards from eclipsing last year’s offensive numbers of 4353. This offense could have the opportunity to take the field five more times this season. Anyone doubting the impact first-year offensive coordinator Chad Morris is having on Clemson just falls into the Georgia Tech category of there knowledge of football.

Quarterback grade -A

            Tajh Boyd has been somewhere around spectacular at times this season. Again, lets be honest. Going into the season there was no indication that Boyd would play as well as he has through nine games. He looked less than spectacular in mop up duty against South Carolina and in the bowl game against South Florida. Even in the Spring Game, not many Clemson fans came away feeling overly confident about the quarterback position.

            Now, nine games into the season, it is apparent that Coach Morris had a plan for Tajh. He had specific aspects of his game that he knew he had to improve up during the off-season. It is apparent that Boyd took those things to heart and asserted himself as the leader of this team.

            It was not pretty early on against Troy but moving forward it has been a lot of fun to watch Tajh Boyd lead this offense to eight wins in nine opportunities. He has been efficient with the ball throwing twenty-five touchdowns and only five interceptions. He has come up with some big time throws on key plays throughout the season. He has led this offense on scoring drives when they have had to have points. He has gotten the ball to receivers so that they can make plays in space. That is an often-overlooked aspect of a quarterback’s game.

            Boyd has been efficient running the ball. He is no Cam Newton but has shown the ability to move around the pocket and scramble when called upon. He has done well on called quarterback runs. It has been fun to watch Boyd develop into the quarterback many talked about him being when he signed out of high school.

            As efficient as Tajh has been this season there have been times when you go back when watching film and think, “what did he see”? For the most part he got away with those, “oh my goodness” throws. It did cost him a pick-six against Maryland and a potential touchdown in the red zone against Georgia Tech. You just cannot have those types of mistakes and not have them bite you at some point.

            It is apparent that Tajh predetermines where he is going with the football before the snap of the ball. Two things, I know about pre-snap reads and their importance of speeding up decision-making, also I know when a quarterback is locking into a receiver. At times Tajh has fallen in love with Sammy Watkins athletic ability to make plays than making the proper reads and getting the ball to wide open receivers.

            You saw it Saturday night against Georgia Tech but if you want to make life miserable for Tajh Boyd, blitz. Blitz corners, linebackers, safeties, kitchen sinks, etc. He looked very uncomfortable picking up the Georgia Tech blitz. This is something very important to see how he responds during the last four to five games of the season. I would expect teams to start salivating when they watch the Georgia Tech film and feel confident about how they can affect the Boyd in the pocket. Clemson will face another 3-4 defensive team November 12 when Wake Forest comes to Death Valley. I will be interested to see if they use similar aggressive tactics to try to disrupt Boyd.

            Clemson fans have been treated to much improved quarterback play this season and that credit goes to Coach Morris who has worked to mold Boyd into one of the Top quarterbacks in the ACC. There is still room for improvement for this season and on into the future. Fans have to like what they have seen thus far and be excited about what he can accomplish during the stretch run.

            I want to touch quickly on the two other scholarship quarterbacks on the roster Cole Stoudt and Tony McNeal. We have seen only a little bit of Cole Stoudt in game action. He looks the part of a quarterback and was seen as a possible threat to Tajh when he joined the Clemson program in January. He saw a bulk of time against Boston College when he came into the game with the outcome still in doubt a led Clemson on two scoring drives to put the game away. We have not seen much from Stoudt in the down field passing game but all indications are is that he could be a good one for Clemson down the road.

            Tony McNeal is the other quarterback on scholarship who enrolled back in January. The young man is seen as more athletic than Boyd or Stoudt but is pretty raw when it comes to developing as a passer. I think he is a young man who will flourish over time under Coach Morris’ tutelage. I know it will be the hope of Coach Morris to have McNeal compete with Stoudt for the backup position moving into next spring.

            Both Stoudt and McNeal will get more reps and opportunities this week when the Tigers take to the practice field. These young men will get a chance to get coached up and showcase their progress during the off week. As we have seen, Stoudt is only one play away from being the number one guy.

            There is reason to be excited about this group. To see how far they have come in nine months has to make Clemson fans excited about the future at this position. Their continued development and maturation will be key to future success for this program on the offensive side of the ball.