NOTE: Our token Clemson friend-come on, we all have one-again was gracious enough to provide us with some insight on his Tigers and offer a prediction. Rub Howard’s Rock predicted a 30-27 nail biter win for his Tigers last year, and wasn’t far off. Hopefully his prediction for this game is like the picks for the rest of the college football season and will prove to be wrong. Below are his unedited comments.
FROM THE EYE OF A TIGER – TAKE TWO
by: Rub Howard’s Rock
Well it’s Clemson’s turn to drive across Lake Hartwell for the season opener. Hopefully the whole team is able to make it (I hear they like to arrest football players in Athens). The stage is set for another great game with both teams in the preseason top 20. Las Vegas has Georgia walking away with an easy victory, but that is yet to be seen. We will all have to wait just a little longer before “Glory, glory” is bugled, the Red Coats march off the field, and the sweat and blood of the players is exchanged. Here’s what you should know about the Clemson Tigers for the 2014 opener.
Like Georgia, Clemson has lost their long time (by college standards) quarterback, Tajh Boyd. He will be replaced by Cole Stoudt who is a senior and has been the backup for three years. The loss of Boyd and Sammy Watkins appear to be the reason why Clemson dropped in preseason rankings and is approximately a 10 point underdawg (that’s for you, Georgia fans) in Las Vegas. I am not so sure this is warranted. Don’t get me wrong-Tajh was good, but he also got flustered easily, locked into receivers, and rarely went through his progressions. On numerous occasions over the past two years Cole has stepped in momentarily during prime playing minutes and our offense didn’t miss a beat. Cole is accurate, makes his reads, and releases the ball quickly. However, he is not as nimble as Tajh was running the ball and his deep ball hasn’t been as accurate (this may be improving as he gets practice reps with the first team). While I won’t vouch for his haircut, I will step out and say Cole can do the job and do it well.
The loss of Sammy is more material in my opinion as Clemson’s big play ability is significantly reduced. There is still a tub full of talent at “wide receiver U,” since the offensive scheme attracts receivers. Mike Williams, Germone Hopper, Charone Peake, and Adam Humphries are all back and have quality experience. None are like Sammy, but a few are better than Martavis Bryant (also left early for the NFL) and could be as good as Nuk Hopkins was.
The running back responsibilities will be done by committee again this year. I know this sounds intimidating, but they only let one or two on the field at a time, so the Georgia defense will be peppered with mediocrity. There a few tight ends that will likely see the field and play a vital role. Stanton Seckinger is one and is responsible for the dagger to the Georgia fans’ hearts last year with a touchdown in the fourth quarter. Jordan Legget, injured last year, is expected to make an impact. The offensive line isn’t much of a concern, but they are still trying to find the right mix which is a little alarming.
Clemson’s defense has gone from atrocious to tolerable to could be pretty good. They allowed 14 or fewer points in 7 of 13 games last year. Starters are returned two deep on the defensive line and the defensive ends are back. In addition, the majority of the linebackers return. That said, the secondary is young in a few spots with little to no game experience. Ole Hutson Mason may have a field day Between the Hedges if the recruited talent doesn’t come to fruition. If Malcom Mitchell makes it back for this game, please someone in Athens teach him how to celebrate.
Clemson’s returning defensive front gives me some comfort, but Gurley still scares me. Granted, I weigh about as much as a dressed Georgia white tail deer, so plenty of people fall into that category. However, I’ve seen him in a casual setting off the field and he sticks out like a bulldog in a litter of pugs. He, and he alone, won more than one game for Georgia last year. Georgia’s defense is also bound to be better as Richt pulled off the best magic trick I’ve seen with Grantham going to Louisville. Cole Stoudt will have to grow up fast in front of 90,000, unreasonably angry, Georgia fans and methodically lead the Clemson offense without turning the ball over for Clemson to win. Looking through my pumpkin colored glasses, I think Cole and the Clemson defense is up to the task. Clemson 35 – Georgia 31.