The long awaited debut of the new offense left a reasonable impression on Saturday, when the Clemson Tigers defeated Troy 43-19, despite an early halftime score of 16-13 in Troy's favor.
Clemson's defense saw its own share of struggles, consistently taking bad angles, giving up big plays, and displaying poor tackling technique.
Some rust was sure to be expected from a first game, especially from a new offense and a young defense. But, on offense, Clemson was not physical enough upfront, and, with a supposedly experienced offensive line, Clemson should have been able to do better in the trenches, especially in pass protection, when quarterback Tajh Boyd was uncomfortable in the pocket the entire first half.
If Clemson wants its offense to be productive in Week 2 and start the brunt of their schedule on the right foot, they must be more physical up front in both run and pass protection.
The bright spots on offense were the return of running back Andre Ellington, who broke the century mark, and the clear playmaking ability of the true freshman. Wide receiver Sammy Watkins showed remarkable hands and ability, ending up with 81 receiving yards and a touchdown, while running back Mike Bellamy showed his Florida speed by rushing for 75 yards and a touchdown. Tight End Dwayne Allen and receiver Jaron Brown also recorded big touchdowns.
On defense, it is clear that the Tigers are missing Jarvis Jenkins' big body up front, along with the threat of the Daquan Bowers pass rush.
A good number of young players saw the field, Clemson was stuck in their nickel formation for most of the game and the defense gave up too many big plays, showing poor tackling technique and over aggression as they flowed to the ball.
The defense did have its bright spots, however; the linebackers look improved from last year, and the young linebackers showed plenty of potential, with highly touted freshmen Tony Steward and Stephone Anthony logging a fair amount of snaps later in the game.
Going up against Wofford, the Tigers are clear cut favorites, but must stay focused and knock off the rest of their rust before they face their tough three-game stretch of Auburn, Florida State, and then heading to Blacksburg to play against Virginia Tech.
This will be a key game for the Tigers to continue growing into their offense, get the freshman acclimated, and tighten up the defense's tackling as well as their overall execution. This will also be a chance for Watkins to get playing time and more on-the-field experience, as playing time will be harder for the other freshmen to come by in the upcoming weeks.
As the season commences, and with the brunt of Clemson’s season right around the corner, it is essential that Clemson gets the last of the rust off in this game before they head for their first noon kick off against Auburn.