10 Things I Learned From Clemson

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Mikell Simpson looked the best he has looked since an injury in the Indiana game. Unfortunately, an injury at the end of the half ended his game short again.

Eleven weeks down, one to go. With the exception of the three weeks that resulted in wins, however, this week’s game may have been as enjoyable to watch as any this season. There was some good and some bad, some fun and some not so fun, some basic and some creative. That makes reviewing the game just a little more fun, too.

1. Summing Things Up. When you start a game with a fumble deep inside your own territory on the very first snap from center, I suppose you could say that things cannot go down from there. Problem is, there is no guarantee that things will go up. This weekend, things did get better for a while … until they didn’t. That seems to be the story of the season for the Hoos.

This week, for example, there still was plenty of fight left in the Hoos after that first stumble. I think Dabo Swinney helped the Hoos get up off the mat with a mind-blowing decision to go for it on 4th-and-2 on Clemson’s first offensive series (and not getting the ball into C.J. Spiller’s hands on the play made the decision look even worse). But the UVa defense still had to make that stop on fourth down, which it did, and the offense still had to bounce back.

So then the Virginia offense comes out, establishes the run, and finds something that really is clicking: the Wildcat formation with Mikell Simpson running the show. Simpson starts picking up yards in chunks, and really announces that he has found his comfort level when he gets the ball inside the Clemson 5-yard line on UVa’s first scoring drive, doing so by dropping his head and welcoming contact to finish the run. Add to that the barking at two Clemson defenders that Simpson did while hopping up from the tackle and it seemed he had found his comfort level. Simpson even finishes off the first half with a fantastic touchdown catch …