This was a tough but ugly game, both sides continuously made mistakes to try to hand it over to the other team. Fumbles, interceptions, muffed punts, etc. Overall, the two teams looked pretty evenly matched with Clemson having an edge in overall speed. In the first half Clemson's defense made Nebraska look bad, we blitzed heavily and controlled the line of scrimmage. Ganz's receivers were stuck like glue to Clemson defenders and the pressure we managed to get forced some poor throws.
But Clemson's fortunes on offense were evident from the first play of the game. We came out in a standard split-I set and changed to a Wildcat formation, and called a timeout....and then came out and ran the exact same thing after the timeout. What the hell? You have two weeks of practices to do that on the first play?
Then theres the awesomeness of Cullen Harper.....who came out with a bewildered look on his face and decided to jump out of the pocket on nearly every single pass play when a Nebraska player came within 10 feet of him. Had Cullen been coached properly to just stand in the pocket and wait for someone to come open a second longer, we might have capitalized on the great field position we had during the entire first half, particularly the first two drives.
And, as you would expect if you've watched Clemson play all season, the "Thunder" fails to arrive. Clemson showed some rushing early, on the two drives where we moved the ball, we basically ran it down their throats between the tackles....and then when close to the goalline, we stop and throw it. James Davis did not do much with the carries he got, but CJ Spiller showed up today ready to play.
To start the 2nd, Clemson runs the ball all the way down the field, and a horse collar on CJ puts us at 1st and Goal. One run up the middle by JD gets nothing, then Harper does something stupid and tries a pushpass that luckily falls out of bounds, then two more pass plays fail to score, forcing a FG that came up low and bounced off Suh's elbow.
Then Clemson decided to quit running the ball. Nebraska brought up their LBs on run pressures, and after a few gains of zero yardage, Swinney and Napier decide to completely abandon the running game against a team who doesnt substitute their DL often.
Thankfully, the defense did show up ready to play. McDaniel, coming on a blitz that Ganz pointed out before the play, forces a quick pitch on a shotgun read option and knocks the ball loose, picks it up and runs it in 28 yards for the first score to put us ahead 7-0.
Nebraska then went to a quicker paced hurry-up offense and had success, but we got our hits on Ganz nonetheless. Clemson brought 7 guys on several blitzes at the end of their FG scoring drive, something VK would not have done.
Immediately after, Cullen's pass to Spiller in the flat is tipped at the line by Steinkuhler and intercepted. You can't blame that one on Cullen, despite weak throws in the half.
On the next Nebraska play, Clemson blitzed Ganz and C. Butler intercepts one in almost the same place, and is pushed out of bounds inside the Nebraska 20. Clemson scores 2 plays later on 2nd & 22 (following a sack) from the 30 on a good throw by Cullen to Kelly in the corner of the endzone.
Then, for some reason, we stop blitzing Ganz.
To start the 3rd, Nebraska comes out firing and marches downfield and one big play on the sideline put them around the CU 20, and a great play by the NU WR makes it 14-10. We simply got beat on this drive.
Nebraska forces a 3&out on the first Clemson drive of the half and then fails to catch the punt, and Chad Diehl recovers the fumble near midfield. Jacoby Ford outruns the CB and gets behind the safeties and runs down an overthrown Harper pass for the 41 yd TD to make it 21-10. FINALLY JACOBY GETS A DEEP BALL.
The vertical release by the TE forced the Safety to stay close, allowing Jacoby to get behind him.
But the back & forth continued....A 58yd run by Castille (and two missed tackles) put NU at the Clemson 20, and two plays later Ganz found Peterson over the middle on an In-N-Up route for the TD. I wish Cullen would step up in the pocket like Ganz did on that play, instead of running off and tossing it away.
Now, all I wanted Clemson to do was go back to the running game, but apparently rhyme & reason left the offensive staff, and we looked helpless for the rest of the half. Much of the playcalling made no sense after this point, there appeared to be no apparent plan of attack.
On Clemson's next possession, a pass by Harper bounces off Ford's pads and NU intercepts at the Clemson 10. Thankfully the defense forces the FG. 21-20.
Nebraska forces a 3 & out, and Sadat Chambers fails to block Thenarse AT ALL, and they block the punt. Clemson is handing the game back to Nebraska on a platter and is clearly losing focus on offense. The defense forces another 28yd FG, 23-21.
On the next Nebraska drive, Kourtnei Brown puts a hit on Ganz to take him out of the game. Witt comes in on the next play, runs up the middle and fumbles on another big hit by Brown that is returned for a TD by Byron Maxwell, but the review shows that his knee was down at the same time the ball came loose and Nebraska retained possession to punt.
Nebraska scored again on their next drive after a big play put them around the Clemson 10, and the defense forces another FG to make it 26-21.
Clemson's offense managed one good drive to finish the game, after looking awful and confused since the earlier TD. Running a quicker no-huddle, Harper got us to 1st and Goal at the Nebraska 10. Cullen STUPIDLY took a sack and pushed us too far away....THROW IT AWAY IDIOT....The one time he doesnt throw it away or run out of bounds....A pass skipped off CJ's hands on a post and the next one sailed incomplete and the game was over.
Thank God Cullen Harper is leaving this team. His "deer in the lights" look and pisspoor play cost Clemson this game more than any other factor.
For those who think I shouldnt bash a player, I point out that Harper lost that right when he danced on TB's grave. He's a player, not a fan, he should keep his mouth shut. Him and his dad can both stay gone for all I care.
Clemson's defense dominated the LOS today and we ate their rushing game alive. The one 58 yard run was their only real lapse. We were in the backfield on nearly every run. In the first half we blitzed often, and in the 2nd there was a dropoff in pressure. Ganz is a good QB, but had all day to throw at times, and a good QB can pick a zone apart if he has time.
Clemson's offense was anemic, scattered, and completely confused....the playcalling was the same, and the rushing game disappeared. Nebraska did stop what few run plays that were called, but if you just decide to stop running the ball then you should expect to lose the game....have we learned nothing from the Bowden days?
We had every chance to seal the deal, and let this one go. We blew a 14-3 and 21-10 lead. At the end, it looked like Nebraska wanted it more than Clemson. It was a game Bowden would've lost, and Swinney lost it too.
Gator Bowl review, Clemson falls 26-21.