Midseason Report: Clemson


Record: 5-1, 2-1

The Tigers dropped their biggest game so far this season, losing on the road to Florida State after getting outscored 35-16 in the second half. That loss took them out of the driver's seat in the Atlantic, but there is plenty of reason for hope at the halfway point. Clemson still has a potent offense, and Florida State looks vulnerable. If the Tigers win out in ACC play and the Seminoles lose one more, this team will end up in the conference championship game once again.

So far in six games, the offense looks better than it did a year ago -- even with Sammy Watkins' production falling down a notch. In his place, receiver DeAndre Hopkins has emerged as the best receiver in the ACC, with 49 catches for 777 yards and eight touchdowns -- tops in the league in each category. Tajh Boyd looks much more comfortable in the pocket and is more efficient this season as well, and we have also seen him be more effective in the run game. Clemson is averaging 85 more yards per game on offense this season and running about 82 plays per game, up only slightly over the 81 they ran last year.

It is the defense that remains a concern, even with a new coordinator in Brent Venables. Clemson ranks No. 10 in the ACC in total defense and is actually giving up 52 yards more per game than a year ago. The Tigers have given up 180 yards or more on the ground in four of six games this season, and have struggled being out of position and with tackling as well.

The rest of the schedule sets up nicely for Clemson, with only two road games the rest of the way. Virginia Tech, NC State and South Carolina are all at home. This could end up being another BCS-type of season.

Offensive MVP: Hopkins. It was a tough call between Hopkins and Boyd. Both have made marked improvements this year, but Hopkins has been truly remarkable. In addition to leading the ACC in receiving, he has set single-game school records for catches (13 vs. Auburn) and receiving yards (197 vs. Boston College) and tied the record for touchdown receptions (three, Ball State).

Defensive MVP: Stephone Anthony. Anthony leads the team with 51 tackles so far this year, and has led or tied for the team lead in three of six games this season. He also hit double-digits against Furman and Florida State. Anthony is second on the team in total defensive snaps, with 341.