1. Proctor got the win and his stats in the opener were okay, but what did you think of his performance?
His stats and performance were more about what Coach Bowden said he graded them as, an A-. He was admittedly nervous at the start of the game, and it showed with a botched handoff to a running back in the backfield that resulted in a fumble.
Here is what you need to know about Will Proctor as he enters his senior year: he is more mobile than former QB Charlie Whitehurst, while not having as much arm strength he is a more accurate passer than Whitehurst. Will Proctor is probably a better fit for Offensive Coordinator Rob Spence's system than Charlie Whitehurst was last season. The system relies on quick reads, and packages with multiple options. He can come to a line with 5 to 6 options that he has to make within a few seconds. Proctor does well with this.
Last season's 16-13 BC ot win in Death Valley received a lot of arm chair criticism in Clemson circles for the offense's failure to lengthen the field by throwing deeper. What happened instead was Whitehurst, a drop back passer, either had to rely on the running game or buy time for receivers to get open, which rarely happened vs. BC's talented defensive front. With Proctor, you will see a different situation. Expect multiple sets, with multiple play options coming out of the huddle. Expect several designed roll outs, sprint outs, bootlegs, etc. Proctor, while unproven in road situations as THE leader of the offense, has the skills to make a difference forcing the defense to match Clemson's speed at wide receiver and three very different running back sets.
Proctor will attempt a lot of very safe passes (hence his very high completion percentage) and rely on a near constant rotation of three running backs and team speed at wideout with Chansi Stuckey, Aaron Kelly, Rendrick Taylor, Jacoby Ford, etc.
2. Your LB core is the walking wounded. Tell us about the new guys who are filling their shoes?
The line backing situation is like a punch to the gut for Clemson at the moment. Middle linebacker Anthony Waters, who turned down a likely third round pick in the NFL draft returned to Clemson to fulfill a family promise to graduate and make a difference on this squad. Instead, the ACC's leading returning tackler will have to watch the rest of the season from the sideline. On top of that, outside LB Billie's broken foot in preseason camp and immediately depth becomes an issue for Clemson. Here is why that is important. Clemson D front line is perhaps the best in the ACC, led by Gaines Adams, perhaps a NFL first round pick in April. The Secondary is ok. Converted running back Duane Coleman and Sergio Gilliam lead that corps, but it is what lots of folks considered to be the weakest part of the Clemson team. Because of attrition of probably the top two linebackers, expect Clemson to be less aggressive on defense, especially among the linebackers, so as not to give up large plays through the air.
Clemson is now vulnerable, moreso than before, to mismatches on defense. Against the run or pass alone, Clemson should be fine. When assignments start to break down, Clemson will be more vulnerable, especially to passes in the flats as the game goes on.
3. Do you think traveling this far north will be a big deal for the Tigers?
Yes. There is an exotic factor to BC for Clemson. I cannot speak for the team, but many fans are seeing the BC game as a late summer vacation opportunity to New England, almost with the same attitude that folks approach a winter bowl trip to a warm climate.
As far as the team goes, other than the usual disruption that traveling causes, I cannot really imagine that much being made of it, as all they will see of Boston will be a hotel and the BC stadium. What will be interesting will be who travels with the team. Saturday, over 70 of the 85 scholarship players, saw action vs. Florida Atlantic, over 50 in the first quarter alone. For the Clemson coaches, decisions this week about who to bring on the travel squad will be important. Against FAU, Clemson was often subbing four players a down. Lots of positions were being showcased, especially at the second string level. Also, losing to BC was a bit of a rallying cry for the Tigers last season, because it served as a reminder to play all 60 minutes. Things like that will be on the mind of the Tigers.
4. What is your prediction for the game?
Keeping Clemson's team speed, experience at both the offense and defense lines and raw talent at running back with Davis, Meriwether and 2005 Florida player of the year, CJ Spiller, I expect Clemson to use some complicated sets with runners out of the back field catching passes, alternating inside/outside running and less aggressive zone defense. At the end of the day, Clemson's experience and speed make the difference with a final score in the 31 to 16 range for the Tigers.