Instant Analysis: Clemson clobbers Miami 58–0; time for Al Golden to go
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — It was over in the first quarter, and Saturday’s 58–0 Clemson trouncing of Miami may signal that it’s over permanently for Al Golden at The U. Here are three thoughts from an afternoon of total domination.
1. Miami took a beating for the ages from a team that absolutely looks like a College Football Playoff contender
Clemson opened the scoring on a screen from quarterback Deshaun Watson to Jordan Leggett that saw five Clemson blockers paving a path for a 34-yard touchdown run. On Clemson’s next possession, Watson broke off a 63-yard run that set up a five-yard Wayne Gallman touchdown run.
Here are the full first-half stats. Warning, they’re NSFW.
Those stats don’t mention that Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya was lost to a concussion after taking a sack from Clemson’s Shaq Lawson, who might be the nation’s most disruptive defensive player. By the time Clemson’s Kelly Bryant—the third-string quarterback—raced in for a 59-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter, Sun Life Stadium was so empty that you could hear each individual “Fire Al Golden” scream.
Speaking of which…
2. It’s time for Al Golden to go
If it wasn’t obvious before, it’s plenty clear now. Miami absolutely needs to fire Golden and hire someone who can take better advantage of the plentiful talent around the school. Clemson is where Miami wants to be, and Saturday proved just how far the Hurricanes need to go.
Miami wasn’t going to beat the Tigers playing just four defensive backs (two safeties and two cornerbacks), but for some reason, that’s the personnel defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio chose for a good portion of the first half. Clemson has one of the nation’s best spread offenses, and teams that routinely use four or five receivers need to be defended by a nickel or dime package. Judging by the way everyone else plays defense, this topic isn’t really up for debate. Yet somehow Miami’s staff thought this would work.
Yes, Miami has some limitations that probably make a run like the one the Hurricanes had from 1983 to ’91 (four national titles) impossible. That doesn’t mean they can’t compete for ACC titles and occasionally compete for national titles. That doesn’t mean they can’t at least compete for the ACC Coastal Division title. In fact, with a good hire, they probably could compete for the Coastal next year.
3. Watson looks like a Heisman contender
He makes everything look so easy, but if Watson keeps leading Clemson the way he has, he’ll be in New York in December. Sure, plenty of people have already handed the Heisman Trophy to LSU’s Leonard Fournette, but the season is only half over. Watson still has plenty of chances to put up big numbers.
Had Miami put up more of a fight, Watson would have had some eye-popping numbers Saturday. Instead, he finished his day in the third quarter with an efficient 143 yards on 15 of 19 passing. He also carried eight times for 98 yards.
If the Tigers keep blowing out opponents the way they did Saturday, Watson may not get the chance to post the stats he’d need to best Fournette. But that’s probably O.K. with Watson. Because if Clemson keeps playing this way, the Tigers are in line for a much bigger prize than the Heisman.