Last night, the Clemson Tigers lost their first game of the 2015 campaign to an Alabama Crimson Tide team which exploited the Tigers' deepest vulnerabilities, and overcame arguably the best offensive game any team's thrown at them in years.
Over time, we'll remember this season and a national championship game berth as a foundational time for the program. We won't forget hanging 40 on a defense some compared to the '85 Bears. We will rightly applaud the other-worldly performance turned in by Deshaun Watson, the O-line's sturdy pass protection, Hunter Freaking Renfrow and Kevin Freaking Dodd, the defense largely neutralizing Derrick Henry in the 2nd half (aside from some devastating goal line work), and so many other key contributors. We'll lament Mack Alexander's absence, and its effect on the 8 plays which went for 20+ including back-breaking drive extenders, and 3 touchdowns of 50 yards plus. As fans, we'll be haunted by a successful, ballsy onside kick which would have crushed the spirit of 126 other FBS teams, but was merely a speed bump for this Clemson squad.
Facing Alabama, not even an awe-inspiring QB performance assures you anything. Near flawless play in 3 phases is required, and even then, you'll need them to help you out some. What's most disappointing is that even an average performance from kick coverage and neutralizing O.J. Howard make you feel like a Clemson victory was possible. As we strive for "Best is the Standard", preventing big plays and extinguishing kick returns are the last fundamental building blocks for this coaching staff to sort out. Here's hoping they'll return a cadre of hungry underclassmen with title aspirations.
This show was Cody and I letting exhaustion and raw emotion (24 hours removed) guide our post-game thoughts. There will be time for perspective, and ultimately we know we'll cherish the 2015 season as our favorite as fans. Beer will taste good again. For now, we need closure on a disappointing game that mid to long-term, may have solidified Clemson's place among college football's elite, but short-term felt like a gut punch from Bald Bull.
For those of you that can stomach thinking about this game already, let's get cathartic!