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Clemson Football: Grading the Tigers’ Offense Week 5 vs. Wake Forest

Clemson RB Zac Brooks dives for the endzone while eluding a Wake Forest defender

Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

All week, the coaches have told their team to just “go out and have fun.”

And that’s just what the players did. They had fun.

The Clemson Tigers redeemed their less than stellar offensive performance last Thursday night in Raleigh by taking it to the Wake Forest Demon Deacons with a 56-7 victory in Death Valley to keep the Tigers’ undefeated streak alive.

The offense jumped out of the gate early, taking just three plays of its opening drive before drawing first blood with a 64-yard touchdown pass to receiver Sammy Watkins. For an offense that had been a little out of sync in its last two games, their performance is certainly a confidence booster after finishing the day with 576 total yards on offense.

Just how did Clemson’s offense grade out in their performance against the Deacs?

1. Quarterback: A

Tajh Boyd shook off a shaky performance against NC State in Week 4 and showed why he is a Heisman candidate. Boyd completed 17 of his 24 passes for 311 yards and three touchdowns, as well as a rushing touchdown. Boyd looked much comfortable on the field and showed good poise both in and out of the pocket. He also continues to remain interception free through the Tigers’ first four games thus far. Backup Cole Stoudt also performed well in relief of Boyd, going 10-of-11 for 90 yards and a touchdown, and he only has two incomplete passes all season. The quarterbacks also spread the ball effectively, as 12 different players all had receptions, and both of the quarterbacks combined for 407 passing yards on the day.

2. Running Backs: B

The running backs each all had their moments. All four of Clemson’s scholarship backs each saw carries, with former walk-on CJ Davidson rushing for 25 yards and two touchdowns. With starter Rod McDowell rolling his ankle and held out as a precaution, DJ Howard made the most of his time by rushing for 34 yards on seven carries and a 75 yard touchdown catch and run out of the backfield, outrunning the entire Wake Forest secondary. Zac Brooks also scored the first rushing touchdown of his career and finished with 24 rushing yards. The Tigers finished with 166 rushing yards, and the by-committee nature of this backfield against Wake Forest spread the carries over Davidson, Howard and Brooks. Overall, the running backs have four rushing touchdowns on the season, with Davidson having two of them.

3. Wide Receiver: A

The depth of this receiving corps showed in Week 5, especially since second leading receiver Martavis Bryant didn’t play in the first half for his unsportsmanlike gesture against NC State. Freshman Mike Williams started in his place, with his lone reception becoming his first career touchdown. Watkins led all receivers with six receptions for 119 yards and a touchdown, 75 of which came on just the third play from scrimmage. Adam Humphries established his role as possession receiver by catching five balls for 67 yards, while freshman tight end Jordan Leggett caught his his  first career touchdown from Cole Stoudt. Germone Hopper and Stanton Seckinger each had catches as well.

4. Offensive Line: B

With injuries to left guard David Beasley and right tackle Gifford Timothy, Kalon Davis and Shaq Antony got the nod at their respective positions. Both performed well in place of Beasley and Timothy and helped keep Boyd’s jersey clean and give him time in the pocket. The offensive line didn’t have their best performance against NC State, but they performed well and won the battle in the trenches against Wake Forest’s front seven.