loved how jones and dent came back in the second half and made up for their mistakes. i'd have to go back and rewatch specific parts of the field/game to see exactly what adjustments were made but in general, underneath coverage was way better. they did get pressure on boyd in the first half. the problem was the coverage in the flats was not there and he was able to continually dump it off for 8 yard passes that turned into first downs. once the noles took that away, boyd had nothing to do but run for a short gain or throw the ball away. werner and carradine especially were popping off that line and beating their man. clemson spent much of the game doubling werner.
gap integrity seemed to be a little better in the second half and i think that defense was starting to figure them out a bit. that defense was much improved in the second half. i think everybody knew their assignments a bit better. after hopkins had that huge receiving TD on the first drive of the game, he was only held to 28 yards on four catches. watkins was mostly held in check all night despite a couple big plays. that didn't even happen in the receiving game...it was that damn TD pass and reverses. kid is a stud, period.
still some issues...penalties, didn't get a 3rd down stop until the second half, o-line gets beat in one on one situations at times, etc, but i'll take this all day. wasn't a dominant victory but they got tested and showed the ability to bounce back and come back from behind.
i want to elaborate on that last point. i don't think last year's team comes back from 14-28 in the 3rd quarter. they were too young, inexperienced and i don't know that manuel was the leader he is now. they hung in there and fought back vs. a very good team. wilder, hunter and jones are all bigger parts of this team as well.
honestly, i was getting really concerned that clemson seemed to be making all the big plays and was not making mistakes. it felt like it could be another fsu letdown. that would be terrible because i really felt this team was legit for the first time in years. i mean, deep down thought they were the best team in the ACC and had to win this game, not only for this year but the future of the program. there were 60+ recruits and possible future commits at the game. i hope they felt that atmosphere and walked away impressed at what is going on at tally. even in a loss last year to oklahoma, 5 star recruit, eddie goldman, fell in love with the aura and decided to commit.
i loved that read option play when manuel pitched it to thompson. i kinda feel that was the turning point and what led to the barrage of 35 points in the second half. from there, that was the most dominating section of the game as fsu only allowed three points in the last 27 minutes. once noles got a hold of that offense, they shut them down. 35-3 and overall in the second half, 35-10.
huge day for manuel. he still lets balls sail but he's so good at read option, that it's okay. his deep pass to smith was a beaut. being accurate on those longs balls are a weakness of his but he was on point for that one. he's taken a lot of crap from the fanbase (myself included), but he was absolutely huge when he needed to be tonight. he had massive expectations coming in but i think we forget that he's still a very good college QB. he just doesn't lose you games. he's never had a weinke vs. nc state moment when he threw pick after pick and gave the game away. teammates even said he gave a speech at a halftime about finishing games.
make no mistake about it...this is manuel's signature win here. career high in passing yards, ran over 100 yards and did it in the biggest game of fisher's coaching tenure so far.
i thought thompkins really wore down clemson and wilder jr came in as the physical back to break their wills. great downfield blocking throughout (except shaw)...pryor and those receivers were getting their hands dirty. pretty stoked right now
as far as clemson, you guys are the new miami imo. this is the new ACC rivalry and i have a feeling we're going at it for years. you guys have invested a ton by paying two coordinators the most in the country. you guys will recruit again and your fanbase is passionate. i think it's obvious you're committed to winning and morris as your OC is a huge asset. guy was putting out incredible packages and plays out there. i have no doubt we're going to make each other better and this is a real, live rivalry. i was never comfortable when your offense was on the field and you have a legit top 5 offense in the nation. your defense will only get better as you have 4 and 5 star recruits all over the field.