Clemson kept their hopes alive in a wide open Atlantic Division race with a 19-13 home win over the Eagles. The victory extends the Tigers’ win streak over Boston College to 11 games and their home win streak to 31 games. Diving deeper, here are some thoughts on the performance.
- The Tigers scored 19-points. It’s not great, but it is the most they’ve scored in regulation against an FBS opponent so far this season. The 19-points somewhat shortchanges the offensive production. They had 438 total yards. Based on Bud Elliott’s rule of thumb (total yardage / 15 = approximate expected points), Clemson should have had about 29 points. Poor third-down and red zone execution is the reason Clemson scored fewer, but at least they’re moving the ball.
- DJ Uiagalelei looked good running the ball. Having to account for him as a runner matters. We’d been calling for the play calling to get more creative in the running game and it finally did. The first play was a constraint off the inside zone that went for 15-yards. They finally ran DJ prior to desperation time. They had some outside runs rather than the same inside zone over and over. Big improvements overall!
- My only play calling gripe is the 3rd-and-1 speed option. Why can’t we perform a simple QB sneak? Perhaps a QB Power in that situation? I love the speed option, but run it on first-and-10 from the left hash, not in that spot. Others seem agree:
Clemson just ran a speed option, and a bad one at that, on 3rd-and-1.— David Hood (@MDavidHood) October 3, 2021
Two runs up the middle and OL creating some push for once.— Tiger Commenter (@TigerCommenter) October 3, 2021
Clemson runs speed option to short side of field on 3rd & 1.
Speed option to short side of field on 3rd and 1. Spare me. pic.twitter.com/3mb7AAmrqr— The Right Reverend Phill (@GlassHalfPhill) October 3, 2021
- Clemson lost running backs Will Shipley and Lyn-J Dixon, but Kobe Pace and Phil Mafah were able plug right in and play extremely well. I don’t know how much credit to give to Coach Spiller for that, but after the shellacking he took from fans when Dixon didn’t play and then left the program, he probably deserves some. Both Pace and Mafah run with a lot of toughness and don’t go down at first contact.
- Aiding the rushing production was the improved play of the offensive line. Putnam was out with an injury sustained (and played through) against NC State. They moved Matt Bockhorst from center into Putnam’s right guard slot and started Hunter Rayburn at center. From my vantage point, the shuffling seemed to help the line a lot. I thought they played very well and I hope we see Rayburn against Syracuse.
- Justyn Ross not fielding a punt on the 20 yard-line was bad. Was he not back far enough? The punt was from the Boston College 24 and flew a little less than 50 yards in the air. That’s very good, but not otherworldly. After a big roll, it was downed at the Clemson 4-yard line for a net punt of 72 yards.
- Will Taylor hurt his knee and is out for the season. This is really disappointing. “Maverick” is imminently likable and was doing well in his special teams role. This hurts the football team a bit this season, but it really hurts the baseball team whose season is only four months away.
- Will Brown returned a punt for 15 yards. He looked sure-handed and shifty. I think I’d rather see him back there than Justyn Ross.
- Ross has been Clemson’s second-best receiver and I previously wrote that he had shaken the rust off, but I’ve changed my opinion. I think he appears a little gun shy. The pass on the final play of the NC State game looked catchable, but he didn’t dive or fight for it. It was odd. Maybe he didn’t see it. Then you had the punt he didn’t field and a few other plays where he didn’t seem to battle for it like you’d expect from a star player. He is super likable and more than anything I hope he is ok and can reach his full potential. He left this game after a blow to the head, but they are saying it was just precautionary.
- Joe Ngata is finally reaching his potential. He had 111 receiving yards. Clemson’s next leading receiver in the game was EJ Williams, with 30.
- Beyond Ross and Ngata, Clemson wide receivers are struggling. Beaux Collins had a couple of drops. Ajou Ajou isn’t making the impact we’d hoped. Frank Ladson hasn’t made an impact either and is hurt again — this time it is a groin pull. Brannon Spector is still out. EJ is playing through an injury.
- DJ Uiagalelei has some accuracy issues, but he looked better against BC. His receivers aren’t doing him any favors. If the throw isn’t right on the money it seems like they aren’t reeling them in. It is a two-fold problem in that regard. We saw DJ’s potential in his cameo last season and he seems like a good kid who cares a lot. The coaching staff and team seem to want to “ride with five ‘till the end,” and I think that is the best option too. An open-date and then a trip to Syracuse may be just what the doctor ordered.
Our camera crews are always at games late breaking down gear.— Kelsey Riggs (@kelseyriggs) October 3, 2021
Tonight, at 12:27AM, so is DJ Uiagalelei. Back out on the field throwing in an empty stadium. pic.twitter.com/fMc90P4RXF