Wednesday, January 15, 2014
Season wrap: Clemson
By Heather Dinich
This was predicted by many to be the year of the Tigers, as Clemson had the standout offensive trio of quarterback Tajh Boyd, receiver Sammy Watkins and coordinator Chad Morris. Together, along with a much-improved defense, the Tigers looked like a national title contender, especially after a season-opening win over No. 5 Georgia and a 6-0 start. That all changed after a humbling 51-14 home loss to Florida State. Clemson’s only two losses were to top-10 teams, but considering how the Tigers lost -- convincingly to FSU and downright ugly to rival South Carolina -- they were fortunate to still qualify for a BCS bowl. Clemson earned some redemption, though, with a 40-35 win over Ohio State in the Discover Orange Bowl.
Offensive MVP: WR Sammy Watkins. He finished the year with 101 receptions for 1,464 yards and 12 touchdowns. He broke Aaron Kelly’s school record for receptions in a season (88 in 2007) and the record for receiving yards (DeAndre Hopkins: 1,405 in 2012). He finished his career ranked second in ACC history in receptions and third in reception yardage. He is tied for second in 100-yard receiving games with 15. He finished his career with 5,129 all-purpose yards, second in Clemson history.
Defensive MVP: Vic Beasley. He was named the team’s defensive MVP and ranked in the top three in the nation in sacks (13) and tackles for loss (23). Beasley was named a consensus first-team All-American. He finished the season with 44 tackles and had six pass breakups.
Best moment: Winning the Orange Bowl. Considering Clemson’s lopsided loss to West Virginia the last time it was in the Orange Bowl, the win over Ohio State gave the program some much-needed redemption. Clemson became the only team in the nation to beat a top-10 team in its bowl game in each of the past two years.
Worst moment: Losing at home to FSU. Some will argue that the loss to South Carolina was worse, but it was the loss to the Noles that derailed Clemson’s hopes of winning the ACC and the national title. With the loss, Clemson immediately took a backseat to the Noles in the Atlantic Division race (again). Not only that, but Jameis Winston completely outplayed Tajh Boyd on his home turf, and Clemson looked utterly disjointed in the loss. The Tigers came unraveled when they had it all in their hands.