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Clemson Defeats Notre Dame: Instant Reaction

Rain, sleet, or snow...Tiger Nation, they show...

Great moment to be a Tiger...
Great moment to be a Tiger...
Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

QT's Take:

Tonight lets be pumpers.

No one can take away a victory over Notre Dame. They can try to belittle us. They can blame it on the rain, give Notre Dame the benefit of the doubt and blah blah blah...

Clemson fans are awesome. We came out in full force in the worst conditions and directly impacted the game, especially in the first half, causing numerous penalties. Electric atmosphere all day long.

Yes, we have a ton of flaws as a program. We can nitpick at the play calling and point to the inability to generate a consistent pass rush in the second half with a gassed defense. We can talk about the LBs inability to cover crossing routes or kickoff coverage--there will be a time for that (Kraken does it well below!).

I want to talk about how our defensive line shutdown the vaunted Notre Dame offensive line for the majority of the game and stuffed the rushing attack despite the rain. I want to talk about the toughness our team demonstrated. Gallman ran tough and didn't fumble. Scott powered in for a TD. Ammon Lakip took kick coverage into his own hands and blew things up. Alexander battled injury (Alexander Island...haha!). We allowed Notre Dame to waltz down the field but we stopped two 2 pt. conversions and forced a fumble on the two yard line. We can be proud of the way this team played and not accept the excuses being peddled for Notre Dame.

We beat the number 6 ranked team in the nation. We won with Gameday in town (hopefully taking a bit of the sting of the FSU embarrassment away with it). We won--lets enjoy it...

Kraken's Take:

Victory!  I’d like to start by giving a lot of credit to Notre Dame for fighting until the bitter end and showing a lot of heart to not fold when it looked like they were out of it.  Last year at this time, we completely out-played an FSU team with a backup QB and lost the game.  Tonight the moment was not too big for us and we secured a big win that should resonate nationally.

The one thing I want everybody to take note of in this game is that we won the battle at the line of scrimmage against a marquee opponent.  In years past, we were often the team relying on things like converting a bomb to Aaron Kelly, or converting a 4th and 16, or wondering why we abandoned the run. Not tonight. This was big boy winning football.  This is what it looks like. Take a mental picture of what went down and file it away in your brain under winning.  We weren’t the desperate team slinging it around and hoping for the a comeback.  We were the team that did what all the pundits thought Notre Dame was going to do and that was win up front.

The opening drive of the game was a thing of beauty.  There was excellent execution and it was clear that our OL came to fight. In the second TD drive, DeShaun Watson showed out with two pinpoint passes to Renfrow and then Scott for the TD.

After that we experienced a lull and kind of settled in instead of delivering the fight. I thought we got a little lazy up front and I thought we forgot to run Gallman.  I thought this was exacerbated by some questionable QB run calls and it got to the point where I felt like I could call the play we were about to run.  We did get what we all wanted though and that was Zac Brooks as the #2 RB to spell Gallman. Brooks had a nice run on a draw that went for 10 yards.

The ND turnover at the start of the 2nd Half swung the game.  We capitalized with a Watson TD run and went up 21-3.   After that, we drifted back into some poor execution and were unable to sustain drives until late in the 3Q when we went back to getting Gallman the ball in different ways.  We went for the jugular twice with fade routes to Scott and Peake but couldn’t convert.  The throw to Peake was a little short and intercepted but I’m not sure it should’ve been. I don’t think Peake was aggressive enough going for the ball.

When ND scored to make it 21-9, it was nice to see us quickly march down the field and put points on the board to make it 24-9.  It was after that drive where we started running clock and became ultra-conservative.  I feel like they tried to go for the jugular in the 3Q, didn’t get it, and then decided to lower the margin for error and play tight to the vest.  This is painful to watch as a fan because ND was doing exactly the opposite during this period of time and slinging the ball around like it was 70 degrees and sunny.

If you’re angry at Dabo and ScElliot for making the decision to go full-conservative just remember what Les Miles did against us in the last two drives in the 2012 Peach Bowl.  That doesn’t mean I’m totally pleased with the play calling, but I understand it.

All in all, it was a monsoon and it wasn’t pretty but, this was winning offensive football.  We ran the ball twice as much as we threw it and the only turnover was that INT to Peake.

After the initial 3 and out on ND’s first series, it was evident that our DL was going to do what we’ve seen in previous games, which is to control the line of scrimmage. We were told that Notre Dame’s OL would be able to control the game and that the rain benefitted them. It did not.

We gave up the FG in the first half after Jadar Johnson played the man and not the ball and drew a PI penalty.  I believe that was on a 3rd down just out of FG range for them.

In the 2Q, the adrenaline seemed to wear off and our pass rush dwindled down to almost nothing. We also dropped an INT and they dropped a TD.

Often, when we would get to Kizer, we had difficulty wrapping him up back there. This seemed to get worse as the night went on and I’m glad we didn’t have to face him in OT.

We stuffed Procise the entire 1st half.  If that is the best OL in the nation then Clemson is the best DL in the nation.  There were a few times in the 3rd quarter when it looked like Procise didn’t want to be hit anymore.  Then the wheel route happened and gave Notre Dame hope and confidence that they could come back. We saw a confident and fearless Notre Dame team after that play.

We had trouble with their shallow crossers.  This is nothing new, I just think we were trying to keep them in front of us and were also a little tired.  I felt like our defense lost energy and was a little complacent as well. However, their WRs are fast and tough after the catch in the open field.

We created enough opportunities to win late. Goodson’s INT with 6 minutes to go and Kearse’s forced fumble in the RedZone were huge. Yet, Notre Dame kept fighting.  It was interesting that they ran the same pick play that they should’ve beaten FSU with last year for their last TD.  I’d like to give big kudos to Carlos Watkins and Kevin Dodd for piling up Kizer on the 2-point attempt.

We had a great effort by our front 7 in this game and we did just enough to hold on and win.  We were aided by some timely dropped balls out of Notre Dame’s WRs but we also dropped a couple INTs as well.

Special Teams:

Who would’ve thought that the big addition we needed in kick coverage would be Ammon Lakip?  That was a huge forced fumble and I’m happy for him that he made an impact in his first game back.  Kick coverage was a little better this week but that’s not saying much.

Artavis Scott had a couple nice returns. The man just refuses to go down.

First of all, big shout out to the people that showed up and raised hell all day for The Tigers.  You can pat yourself on the back for the three straight offensive penalties Notre Dame incurred in the first half!

This was a great win for the Clemson program but, we have a lot of unfinished business left to do.   We have passed a couple of the tougher tests of the season now, but we are still a work in progress.  Other teams are going to improve as the season goes along and I believe we are going to need to continue to get better to win out.  Hopefully everybody is healthy and their legs are ready to be chopped by GT next week.