This year’s trip to Miami was much more pleasant than the last time the Clemson Tigers were playing in the Orange Bowl. Demons were exorcised by Clemson in one of the wildest games of the bowl season, one that has served up plenty of drama and fantastic endings and moments. Perhaps none were as tense as Clemson and Ohio State each turned the football over in the final minutes.
Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd threw five touchdowns and rushed for one more as Clemson’s offense was too much for Ohio State to keep pace with in the Orange Bowl Friday night in Miami. Boyd passed for 365 yards and 227 of those went to wide receiver Sammy Watkins in a career game — and also an Orange Bowl receiving record — as the Tigers held off Ohio State in a 40-35 Orange Bowl victory. What a way to go out for both players.
Clemson rolled up 577 yards and 24 first downs on the Buckeyes defense. In addition to his 370 passing yards, Boyd also led all players with 127 rushing yards, averaging 14.2 yards per carry. His Ohio State counterpart, Braxton Miller, had a good night for the most part by passing for 234 yards and two touchdowns while also rushing for 35 yards and two more touchdowns. But Miller took more rough shots from Clemson’s athletic and feisty defense, led by Vic Beasley. Miller was visibly banged up in the game and he was picked off twice, including one on Ohio State’s final possession of the game. Ohio State had Carlos Hyde lead the ground game with 113 rushing yards and a touchdown, but whatever reason the Buckeyes backed away from the running game late when it may have been early to abandon it.
After winning the first 24 games of Urban Meyer’s career as Ohio State head coach, the Buckeyes suffered back-to-back losses in the postseason including the Big Ten championship game loss to Michigan State. Clemson is slowly putting to rest the idea the Tigers cannot win a big game. Clemson came from behind to beat LSU in the Chick-fil-A Bowl last season, and they came from behind to top Ohio State this year as well.
Clemson will look for some new playmakers in 2014 as they attempt to stay near the top of the ACC and continue battle with Florida State for ACC supremacy. Clemson’s 2014 season will start on the road at Georgia. The Tigers upended the Bulldogs in one of the season’s most attractive games in week one, and the 2014 opener in Athens could be another entertaining match-up to look forward to. But first, Clemson will have to make sure they can keep their coaching staff together. Although Clemson’s coaching staff is paid handsomely, offensive coordinator Chad Morris continues to be an attractive coaching name. As the carousel continues to rotate, his name could likely remain in the conversation.
Ohio State will open the 2014 season in Baltimore against Navy a week before hosting Virginia Tech for another game against the ACC. The Buckeyes will wait to see if Miller will return or head to the NFL Draft. Ohio State does seem to have a favorable schedule in 2014, but a road trip to Michigan State on November 8 should be circled on your calendar right now.
Lovie Smith is not a big fan of fighting amongst his Illinois players, a lesson he shared with his aptly nicknamed Fighting Illini squad Wednesday evening.
According to the Decatur Herald & Review, Illinois’ spring practice session yesterday came to an abrupt and premature end after a fight between players broke out. The names of those involved in the fisticuffs are not known as the media hadn’t been permitted to view practice.
From the Herald & Review‘s report:
…a source said Smith wanted to send a strong message about how he hates fighting and considers it an inexcusable transgression that robs the rest of the team of a chance to concentrate on getting better.
The field was cleared at about 5:35 p.m., nearly an hour before practice was scheduled to end. The players were sent to the locker room and the field was quickly cleared of equipment. Reporters were told there would be no interviews and were told to vacate the Memorial Stadium facility.
The Illini, which finished 3-9 in their first season under Smith last year, kicked off spring practice feb. 14 and will conclude it March 10 with the annual spring game.
With spring practice getting set to kick of en masse all across the country, there’s more of the expected personnel attrition settling in and coming to light.
On his Twitter account Wednesday, Andy Dodd announced that it is in his “best interest” to transfer from LSU and continue playing college football elsewhere. “This decision was not an easy one, but it is what’s best for me moving forward,” the offensive lineman wrote.
Dodd was a three-star member of the Tigers’ 2013 recruiting class, rated as the No. 17 guard in the country.
After taking a redshirt as a true freshman, the lineman played in eight games the next two seasons. He played in six games, with one start, in 2016.
Another graduate transfer has made a move, albeit with a slightly different bent than most others.
Auburn confirmed Wednesday that Casey Dunn has been added to Gus Malzahn‘s football roster. The center comes to The Plains as a graduate transfer, which makes him eligible for the 2017 season.
He also comes to Auburn from Jacksonville State, an FCS school that would’ve made him immediately eligible aside from the grad transfer exception. Oh, and his new position coach is excited to have him in the personnel fold as well.
The past two seasons, Dunn was an FCS All-American. While Dunn comes to the Tigers as a center who started 27 games at that position for the Gamecocks, he could play anywhere along the interior of the Tigers’ offensive line.
Malzahn is also very familiar with Dunn’s talent as the lineman started for the JSU squad that took him to overtime in 2015.
Earlier this week, Brad Lambert added a longtime Power Five assistant to his Charlotte coaching staff. Not long after, he has added another.
The 49ers announced in a release that Keith Henry has been hired by Lambert as his running backs coach. The 49ers’ coach at that position last season, Damien Gary, will shift to wide receivers.
Henry and Lambert (pictured, left) were on the same staff at Wake Forest, so they have a previous working relationship.
“Keith brings a lot of experience to our program,” said Lambert in a statement. “Having coached on both sides of the ball, he brings an added dimension of a defensive perspective to our offense. We’re really glad he’s coming on board with us. He’s a North Carolina native who’s played in North Carolina and has recruited for many, many years in North and South Carolina. That will be a huge benefit to our program with the relationships he’s built over the years.
“He’s been very successful and been a part of winning football at Ohio, Wake Forest and Catawba.”
Henry spent 11 seasons with the Demon Deacons (2001-11). He coached on the defensive side of the ball for the first 10 years before spending his final season with the ACC school as special teams coordinator. His last job on the offensive side of the ball came as wide receivers coach at Ohio in 1996.