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Clemson vs. Pitt: Panthers Declaw the Tigers

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Poor play by the offense leads to another Tiger loss 27-17.

Clemson v Pittsburgh
D.J. Uiagalelei passes downfield against the Panthers.
Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images

Clemson traveled north to take on Pittsburgh in a game where the Tigers found themselves underdogs for the first time in a while.

The game started slowly but the Panthers got an interception and followed it with a drive that started well, but was shut down by the Tiger defense. Clemson responded with a good drive, mixing runs and passes. Phil Mafah ran it in from a yard out to give the Tigers a 7-0 lead with 1:29 left in the 1st quarter. Unfortunately, Matt Bockhorst went out with an apparent lower right leg injury.

Pitt responded with an effective drive, but it ended when the Tigers forced and recovered a fumble at their 35. The Tigers pushed out to midfield but couldn’t convert a 3rd & 7 when D.J. Uiagalelei sailed a sideline pass wide to Justyn Ross.

Clemson v Pittsburgh
Phil Mafah scores in the 1st quarter.
Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images

Pitt started another drive off with some good runs and passes, and got into Tiger territory, but a sack by Baylon Spector on 3rd & 7 ended it. The punt was downed at the Tiger 2, not a good starting point for the anemic Clemson offense. The drive started well but ended in a punt.

Pitt proceeded to drive down the field on some good passes that were poorly covered by the Tigers and scored. With 3:18 left in the half, the score was tied 7-7. Clemson’s response was a 3 & out. The Tigers appeared to have the Panthers in a hole but Spector had a stupidly late hit on a Pitt receiver. Fortunately, the targeting call was reversed. With about 40 seconds left, the Tiger blitz didn’t get home and bad coverage left a Pitt receiver so wide open that he’ll probably be getting a property tax bill next week. Pitt led 14-7. Will Shipley ran the kickoff out to the 35 but the offense responded with its typical ineptness. The Tiger passing game reminds me of when we played pickup football in my youth and the play calls were like “Go deep.” It doesn’t seem like the Tiger receivers actually run routes that require cuts.

NCAA Football: Clemson at Pittsburgh
Trenton Simpson gets a sack.
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Clemson started the 2nd half with the ball and had a decent drive going when D.J. executed a perfectly pitched shovel pass... to a Pitt defender, and 50 yards later it was Pitt 21, Clemson 7. I think it might be time to sit D.J. and give Taisun Phommachanh a chance to play. It doesn’t seem like it could get any worse. As I wrote that, the coaches clearly thought the same thing and sent him in. On 3rd & 6 he hit Ross for a 1st down and then he ripped off a 17-yard run. He continued throwing crisp, accurate passes to Ross and Shipley to get the Tigers near the red zone. But then the drive stalled and B.T. Potter came in and put a 42-yard kick through the uprights. At 6:26 in the 3rd quarter, Pitt led 21-10.

Pitt’s possession started well and they moved into Tiger territory but penalties got the best of them. On 4th & 10, they settled for a 44-yard FG, and the score was 24-10 Pitt with 1:10 left in the 3rd quarter. The Tiger drive started at the 29 but two poor passes by Taisun resulted in a 3 & out. It is starting to become very apparent to me that the Tiger’s success in recent years has been due to the generational talents of Deshaun Watson and Trevor Lawrence. The coaches need to do some adjusting of their thinking and take that into account.

Clemson v Pittsburgh
This is how bad Clemson’s pass coverage was at times today.
Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images

Pitt’s drive started at their 20 and they gashed the Tiger defense running and passing. They moved into the red zone, but a holding penalty and an illegal formation penalty pushed them back out. They got to 3rd & 11 and the Clemson defense held. Pitt settled for a 34-yard FG. At 9:30 left in the game, Pitt led 27-10.

On the next Tiger drive, D.J. came back in at QB. He promptly threw a 27-yard strike to Ross on a crossing route. A pass interference call moved the ball the Pitt 33. Defensive holding gave the Tigers 10 more yards. A D.J. scramble and a Shipley run moved it to the 6, and D.J. then scored standing up on a read option. With 7:56 left it was Pitt 27-17.

The Tigers had Pitt at 3rd & 7 but Pitt QB Kenny Pickett scrambled and got 8 when James Skalski couldn’t cover enough ground fast enough to get to him. The Georgia inside linebackers probably would have sacked him. I like Skalski. He’s smart and plays hard. He’s just a step too slow for today’s game. Pitt did a good job of keeping the clock moving and was helped by a stupid Clemson penalty on a 3rd down. Pitt came away with the 27-17 win.

This just isn’t our year Tiger fans. Our ineptness on offense is just too deep to expect much out of this team and injuries haven’t helped either. If you have the stomach to talk about today’s game, scroll on down to the comments section below. As always, we thank you for stopping by.