Lately, many are starting to notice the change of culture going around Clemson football since Dabo Swinney took over as full-time head coach five seasons ago.
And for two seasons now, fans have had little worry over games that the Tigers know that they should win. And that is appearing to be the case when the Tigers face off against the Boston College Eagles. While the Tigers face some intriguing challenges in running back Andre Williams and receiver Alex Amidon, they are playing with confidence, something that has pushed this team to where they are now.
And as the Tigers head into the intriguing portions of their schedule, there are some parts of the team that could look to bounce back against the Eagles before their inevitable showdown against the Florida State Seminoles.
For instance, their performance in the back end could use some consistency, particularly at safety. Travis Blanks and Robert Smith have been the mainstays thus far, but they take inconsistent angles, especially if the running back or receiver gets into the open field or reaches the second field.
Depth also remains a question, but an answer might lie in freshman Jayron Kearse, who will get his start in place of Blanks, who will be on the sidelines due to a PCL sprain he suffered against Syracuse. Kearse has an opportunity to establish himself at safety and see more time on the field. Nickel back Korrin Wiggins has seen time at safety and could be another option in the back end.
Running back Roderick McDowell could also use a good game against the Eagles on the ground. Through their first five games, McDowell has only gone over the century mark once with 132 yards against Georgia.While the Tigers use their by-committee approach when it comes to their backfield, getting McDowell going on the ground needs to be a priority.
McDowell leads the team in rushing with 294 yards, but getting him back to speed on the ground makes this offense that much more dangerous. Using quarterback Tajh Boyd on running plays is great, but McDowell has 1,000-yard rushing potential.
McDowell also has yet to score a rushing touchdown, with the lone rushing touchdowns outside of Boyd going to Brooks and former walk-on C.J. Davidson. Against Syracuse, McDowell only managed 41 yards on 13 carries, a paltry average of 3.2 yards per carry. If the Tigers aren’t willing to give Brooks more carries on the ground, they need to feed McDowell the rock a little more in between the tackles.
The McDowell-Brooks combo has proven itself capable receivers out of the backfield. Now Clemson needs to see them grind it out more between the tackles.