Clemson won the most Clemsonish game ever played. Great plays followed by huge mistakes again and again, but they made more than we did. Tony Romo would be proud of this game. The NFL replacement refs would be just as proud.
As our regular readers know, I am not one to put blame on referees in a game. 99% of the time you should be able to avoid letting refs decide games by doing your job correctly. If you make that block on a pull instead of letting the LB run past you, then he can't facemask the runner that the ref didn't see, for example. However, last night's game was one of the worst officiated games I can remember watching Clemson play in. Its not even that all the calls were wrong, some were obvious, but the ticky-tack garbage we saw last night just makes me happier that the AAC is now banished from the major conferences. To hell with you and your referees. The Orange Bowl would have been more enjoyable for both sides if they'd have just let the players play and not thrown a flag on every down.
Clemson was headed on a path to pressing and throwing the ball away if the Buckeyes had not given the ball back to us on the punt in the 2nd half. You could just feel it. Bonehead Tajh had already shown up and combined with the ineptitude of the referees, I could see this one flipping to Ohio State pretty easily if not for that punt. We capitalized with a nice TD pass on a Scissors pattern and the defense managed to hold on.
But it shouldn't have been, as we'll discuss in the film review later this week. If Clemson had played up to their standard, and if Dabo's preaching about turnovers had been heeded and the refs not given them free 1st downs on 4th down, we'd have been up 28-0 in the first half. We made one great play and shot off a toe on the next. We'd make a stop or a sack, and get some pathetic call to give them new life. A bad playcall and boneheaded throw to the empty flats results in a safety followed by a bad punt. The same issues we've had all season were apparent at our Free Safety position with Jayron Kearse. Their long pass to the TE was a combination of the LB not preventing him from going up the seam untouched and Kearse looking at the wrong man outside. Kearse came down hard to the flats later on and left a man wide open in the corner to allow another, and let Miller run right through his gap for another TD. As we've seen all year, if this defense had better play at Safety, we'd be firmly in the Top 10 in scoring defense.
We thought the rest of the defense played their asses off. I knew Ohio State would score several TDs coming into this, but I didn't expect us to do well with Carlos Hyde and Miller in the run game. Our run fits made me very proud of the front 7, and they tackled well. Hyde got 113, but I thought we contained him well enough to win. Miller had only 35. Everybody stayed in their gaps. BV played mostly C1 Robber as we told you, and the pass rush wasn't overaggressive. The DEs were well coached to not run beyond Miller's depth in the pocket, which would open up huge run lanes. They stopped when they reached his depth and backtracked to seal the holes. The DTs kept the pocket pressure and held their ground without opening up a hole in the middle. When Miller couldn't take advantage of our safeties, it usually resulted in a short gain or a sack. Yes we allowed 35 points, which is not good, but I'm still happy with the defense as a whole. Ohio State is now 279-1-1 when scoring 35 points.
On offense, you can't say enough about Sammy Watkins. The best WR ever to play at Clemson shredded the Ohio State defense from the start to the finish. He set the Orange Bowl record for receiving yardage last night (16 for 227) while making the Ohio State defense look like they were standing still. I hope he returns and finishes his Clemson degree so that we can put him in the Ring of Honor and retire his number. We won't see another one as good. You won't see another one who can snatch the ball out of the air like Watkins does. Just don't let him throw the ball, ever.
It looked to me like Chad called mostly a good game for Tajh, who lit up a porous defense for 378 yards and ran all over them too. His long TD run was a basic Power. The frontside LB shifted too far to the right and it allowed Shatley to easily seal him off, and the safety was nowhere to be found. Aside from his customary bonehead plays Tajh played his ass off and didn't get flustered under pressure. Those who say we won't miss him will change their tune.
As we move into the offseason we'll kick off with our season review and position review posts to finish the football coverage for the 2013 season.