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Clemson Football: Week 9 Offense Postgame Grades vs Maryland Terrapins

The Clemson offense, despite the 40 points and 540 yards of total offense, didn’t get off to the best of starts, and only scored three touchdowns on eight of their red zone possessions. The Maryland Terrapins brought out one of the sloppiest games out of the Tigers’ offense, but it wasn’t quite enough to pull off the upset, as the Tigers eventually created separation in the fourth quarter. That being said, here’s a look at how Clemson’s offense graded out:

Quarterback: C-

Tajh Boyd completed 28 of his 41 passes for 304 yards while throwing one touchdown and an interception in the game.Despite his good passing number, Boyd left a lot to be desired in the Tigers’ victory over the Terps. He did not make adequate reads and the offense continually stalled in the end zone, and he consistently stared down receivers. He showed an effective blueprint of how to stall the Tigers’ offense when he can’t be effectively utilized in the Tigers’ rushing attack. Boyd did play through both an ankle injury he suffered last week and a knee injury he suffered in this contest, punching through for a rushing touchdown later in the game. With a BCS berth still on the table, Boyd and the offense can’t afford to settle for field the way they did against the Terrapins.

Running Backs: A

Despite Clemson’s overall struggles on offense, offensive coordinator Chad Morris did not abandon the run, feeding senior running back Rod McDowell the rock 30 times, and the results were the best yet: 161 yards and two touchdowns. Both are career highs for the senior, who also scored his first two rushing touchdowns on the season, while boasting 5.4 yards per carry. Zac Brooks, who went down with a shoulder injury, also averaged 5.1 yards per carry, getting the ball seven times for 36 yards. Morris may want to feed his running backs more often, as they have proven production on the ground, which is essential in taking pressure off of Boyd.

Receivers: B

While the receivers saw their struggles in this game, due to red zone difficulties, this group’s grade is largely due to the play of Sammy Watkins, who broke the single game record in receptions with 14, while also amassing 163 receiving yards. Maryland’s off coverage opened up the underneath routes, and Watkins made the defense pay for it. While Martavis Bryant was relatively quiet, he had four receptions for 88 yards, which were all key catches to move the chains forward. Adam Humphries finished with five receptions for 37 yards, and freshman tight end Jordan Leggett caught the lone touchdown pass by the Tigers on the day before the end of the second half. Outside of Watkins, this group needs to get used to seeing tight coverage for the rest of the season, and unless they beat it, their struggles in the passing game will continue. Meanwhile, the drops continue for tight end Stanton Seckinger.

Offensive Line: D

There’s not too much to really say about the offensive line’s performance. The line got no push and was beaten at the point of attack, especially on the interior of the line where Clemson’s left guard spot is continually in flux. The line struggles to pick up the blitz, and it seems that the only way Clemson can run the football is behind left tackle Brandon Thomas. Clemson’s offensive line play has seemingly regressed almost every week, and Boyd does not look comfortable sitting in the pocket. Getting this offense back on track will start with the Tigers improving their play along their offensive line.