It is always difficult to get a true sense of a team after just one game. It’s even more difficult to gauge when the one game is against a vastly inferior opponent. Such is the case with Clemson after the 49-10 victory over Wofford.
However, Tigers fans had their eyes on certain areas and an injury to a star player is a cause for concern. Here are five things to be gleaned after Clemson’s opening win.
1. Deshaun Watson Looked Good
Without a doubt, the health of the star quarterback was the most important factor in determining Clemson’s success in 2015. After week one, all signs are pointing upward. Watson did not have to run very often and he was given a lot of time to throw by the offensive line. However, Watson definitely passed the eye test, not only on his two scrambles but also by the way he shifted in the pocket. He finished the game 18-of-22 passing for 194 yards with two scores and no interceptions. Greater challenges obviously lie ahead. But week one was a success.
2. The Mike Williams Injury
It was a scary scene early in the game when star wide receiver Williams was carted off the field after colliding head first with the goal post on Clemson’s first touchdown of the season. Williams broke a small bone in his neck. The good news is that it will not end his career. The bad news is that he will be out for an extended period of time. Freshman Ray-Ray McCloud had a big game in Williams’s absence, catching 10 passes for 80 yards.
3. The Offensive Line
With a plethora of talented receivers and backs to go along with Watson, the offensive line was the greatest offensive concern coming into the 2015 season. They weren’t exactly playing Alabama this week, but the big guys up front did a great job in both run and pass blocking. They paved the way for 222 yards rushing and head coach Dabo Swinney pinned the only sack on backup quarterback Nick Schuessler. Center Ryan Norton left the game with an injury, but he is expected to be ready to go next week against Appalachian State.
4. Red Zone Offense
Clemson finished 2014 No. 113 in the nation in both red zone efficiency (73 percent) and in red zone touchdown efficiency (48 percent). Saturday the Tigers converted five of their six red zone opportunities into touchdowns. The only slip-up was a Schuessler fumble in the first quarter.
5. Athleticism on the Defensive Front
They may be young and may not have started many games, but Clemson’s front seven is very athletic. Wofford did not have a first down until there were nearly two minutes remaining in the first half and the main reason is that the Terriers’ offensive line could not contain the first wave of the Clemson defense. Scott Pagano did not fill up the stat sheet but his play at nose tackle was stellar and Shaq Lawson, B.J. Goodson and the rest of the crew made life miserable for Wofford’s offense.
— Written by Jon Kinne, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a college football fanatic. Kinne has been writing about recruiting for the Irish Sports Daily for 10 years. Follow him on Twitter @JonRKinne.