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Off-the-radar contributions show well-coached Clemson team

Stanton Seckinger scores a touchdown in the fourth quarter

Photo by Mark Crammer

Stanton Seckinger scores a touchdown in the fourth quarter

In this this week's blog, Marty Coleman says while the spotlight is deserved for Clemson's stars - the Georgia game also demonstrated where the program is overall...

As impressive as Clemson’s well known stars like Tajh Boyd, Sammy Watkins and Rod McDowell were in the season opening win over Georgia, I was struck by the contributions of lesser known players, at least one that had never played a down of college football, who stepped up in situation after situation under the bright lights and national audience.

If you watched the game (or replay) on TV you see redshirt freshman offensive lineman Patrick DeStefano grinning widely like a kid with a secret at the top of the hill. That’s because DeStefano did have a secret. The secret was he was wearing number 43 and was going to play 13 snaps at tight end.

DeStefano threw a huge block on Boyd’s first touchdown run, keeping his man to the outside easily as Boyd ran through the hole and into the end zone.

There was sophomore Bradley Pinion, inconsistent as a freshman, who drilled all 7 kickoffs for touchbacks. There would be no kickoff returns for Georgia on this night, no opportunity for the Bulldogs to steal momentum via kickoff return like Florida State did last season.

Pinion also punted 7 times, with 3 of those being downed inside the Georgia 20, including one at the 3.

Senior walk on C.J. Jones thought quickly on his feet when Ben Boulware was pushed into a punt, taking the bouncing ball out of the end zone and avoiding disaster while giving the Tigers an opportunity to establish field position. There’s some debate about what would have been the ultimate outcome if Jones hadn’t made the play, but the point is Jones was prepared when his time came.

DeStefano relishing playing time


Senior Darrell Smith and sophomore Stanton Seckinger, both lightly recruited players, caught 4 passes between them from the tight end position with Seckinger tight roping the sideline and scoring what proved to be the deciding touchdown on a third and goal.

Lost in the spectacular throw and catch on the Boyd to Zac Brooks touchdown pass was that the ball was snapped by Reid Webster, not Ryan Norton. Webster’s snap was so perfect that Kirk Herbstreit and Brent Musberger mentioned it. It was Webster’s only snap of the evening.

Elite teams have playmakers and Clemson has its share with Boyd and Watkins leading the way. But the truly special teams have role players who step up when called on and can be the difference in winning and losing.

Five years ago I couldn’t have imagined that Clemson would have role players so well prepared for their moment in the spotlight, but each and every one of the players mentioned here, and others that went unnoticed by me, performed when called upon Saturday night in Clemson.

That’s one sign of a well-coached team. Everyone from the biggest star to the senior walk-on was prepared to play from the opening kick.

ESPN will show the Boyd to Watkins and Boyd to Brooks touchdowns repeatedly. That’s what they do and there’s nothing wrong with that. There will be Heisman talk around Boyd and perhaps even Watkins for the next several weeks, deservedly so, as they too performed in a big way on Saturday.

But Saturday’s game was also won by a collection of well-prepared role players who seized their opportunity and shined when the spotlight was on.

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Comments » 10

lhaselden writes:

Every part doing it's work gets the job done!

Bleedsorange writes:

I was thinking amen but I look at the first post and you beat me to it

ansel writes:

right on. this needed to be said, these guys deserve attention too.

TigerNE writes:

I'm hoping and praying that this elite behavior continues and we don't slide backwards when facing "lower" teams like we have in the past. It will be absolutely convincing that we have 'turned the cornet' when that happens.

clemvol writes:

Great work by all the Tigers. To be able to put the kickoff in the endzone time after time is simply a weapon. To have a tight end with the athletic ability and smarts to stay in bounds was great, to be able to throw to Zac Brooks for a TD...WOW, to have play makers all over the field making plays...and they will continue making unreal. This looks like a well oiled machine that will be difficult to be stopped...on both sides of the ball. How does another team stop these guys?? Well, they don't. Nuff said for now.

TrevorT writes:

Very nice article, my favorite this week so far. This truly is a well coached team now and it's beginning to show on the field.

TrevorT writes:

in response to TigerNE:

I'm hoping and praying that this elite behavior continues and we don't slide backwards when facing "lower" teams like we have in the past. It will be absolutely convincing that we have 'turned the cornet' when that happens.

Don't you feel like this team has already done a lot to shake off that bad habit? What inferior team has beaten us in the last two seasons? In previous years I always just counted on at least one or two losses to someone like Maryland or Wake, but personally I haven't felt that way at all recently. I think we have reached a new level of focus in this program, another result of good coaching.

KerryCapps writes:

Excellent take on the game Marty!

Clemorange writes:

Amen was my first thought as well! This was an outstanding game on all accounts.

SoCalTiger writes:

It's the first time I can remember where a writer took the time to recognize the contributions of the "lesser known" players. Their excellent play made the difference and the attention to these often overlooked details like blocking and snapping and kicking is a true testament to the players and the coaches. It could be the difference between a good season and the great season that we all anticipate. Great article! Go Tigers!

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