Clemson was on the road again this week, this time against NC State. The Tigers came in strongly favored against the 4-3 Wolfpack according to EPSN. Alas, Clemson’s offense just seemed to sputter most of the day and the Tigers fell 24-17.
The Tigers got the ball first after a touchback on the opening kickoff. The Tigers converted a 3rd and 6 on a nicely executed crossing route that gained 22 yards, but it was called back for a hold downfield. On 3rd and 4, they couldn’t convert. A 24-yard punt gave State the ball at their 45. The Tiger defense forced a 3 and out on a nice 3rd down pass defense by Jalyn Phillips.
The Tiger offense started their next drive better with a good catch by Jake Briningstool and a nice run by Will Shipley but Cade Klubnik killed the drive by overthrowing Bringstool into the hands of a State defender. The Clemson defense gave up a 50-yard run down to the Tiger 10 and a few plays later the Wolfpack scored on a pass to a wide open receiver in the flat. State led 7-0 with 7:18 left in the 1st quarter.
The next Tiger drive had one nice run by Phil Mafah and then nothing. Fortunately, State’s ensuing drive was equally inept. The rest of the quarter ran out with not much offensive action by either team. At the start of the 2nd quarter, State put together a good drive and ended up kicking a FG to take a 10-0 lead at the 12:11 mark.
The offense woke up on their next drive with some good Shipley running and a nice catch by Beaux Collins. Shipley kept the drive going with a couple of catches to put the Tigers at 1st and goal on the 1. After Shipley had to leave the field after taking a shot to the head, Mafah punched it in. State’s lead was cut to 10-7 with 8:24 left in the half. Shipley walked of the field but would not return to the game. The Tiger defense completely shut down the Wolfpack on their next drive, forcing a 4th and 13. After the punt, Clemson took over at their 39 but they went 3 and out.
The defense gave the offense the ball back at the Tiger 49. They got down to the Wolfpack 27 but had to settle for a FG attempt. It sailed wide right and the score remained 10-7 at halftime.
NC State got the ball first in the 2nd half but the Clemson defense forced a punt. The Tiger offense responded with a dud. A little later, State scored on a tipped Klubnik pass that was intercepted. With 10 minutes left in the 3rd quarter, the Wolfpack led 17-7. A few minutes later, State WR Kevin Concepcion got free for a 72-yard catch and run to bump the lead to 24-7 with under 5 minutes left in the 3rd quarter.
The Tiger offense finally got into a rhythm with Klubnik completing several short passes. Mafah punched it in from the 1 as the 4th quarter began to make it a 10 point game at 24-14. Afterwards, the defense made a good stop and the offense had a chance to narrow the Wolfpack lead with plenty of time left. The drive started well, with a continuation of the quick passes underneath, but a big sack and fumble put the Tigers at 3rd and 23. They didn’t convert and had to punt. Aidan Swanson got a nice one off, putting NC State at their 17.
The Tiger defense held the Wolfpack offense in check and after the punt, Clemson got the ball at midfield. On the first play, Mafah ripped off a 41-yard run down to the 9. A couple of plays later, it was 3rd and goal from the 1. They settled for a FG to make it 24-17 with just under 7 minutes left. Momentum seemed to be on the Tigers’ side. The defense held and after a good punt by State, Clemson got the ball back at their 8.
The offense again went tempo with short underneath passes and Mafah runs. At one point the Tigers had 4th and 1 and Klubnik converted it with a 10-yard scramble. But, expecting this offense to do anything is an exercise in wishful thinking. The drive ended on a 4th and 19
So, another disappointing day for the Tigers. The defense, as usual, played pretty well but this offense just doesn’t have it. They don’t have a big playmaker. The WRs can’t get open. The line seems to get beat way too often. Klubnik needs a little more seasoning. That’s the way I see it. How about you? Let’s discuss it below.