Well that was an ugly contest, but hopefully provides plenty of film for them to work off of this week.
Clemson came out flat and not dialed in for this game. The mental focus simply was not there at all for some guys for the whole game, and if it weren’t for the fact that our Defense is so deep, we might have gotten ourselves in trouble tonight. Even so, I was not worried that we could lose a game to Duke.
Dave Cutcliffe is probably the best true QB coach in the country, and Jones is another example of his tutelage. The guy got us to start out. They had a plan to take what the D was giving them underneath and to get the ball out quickly, because there is little hope a Duke OL could contain our DL for 4 quarters and little hope of running the ball effectively. However, they actually did block us well at the beginning of the 1st Quarter and we were playing off the lines. We were just not dialed in. I recall wishing for a few more blitzes to overwhelm them and that is exactly what BV did. At one point in the 2Q he was sending Joseph on every play. At the same time, we started to get our hands in the air and bat balls away at the LOS to counter them. At that point we were in full control. Duke doesn’t have the athletes at those WR positions to make us miss tackles or pay for jumping underneath patterns, but I am happy with the progression of the secondary. They needed some more tests before we get to crunch time, and Jones was a pretty good test even if his receivers aren’t.
Clemson’s offense had their heads up their asses for much longer though. It starts with ScElliott and their inability to call run plays against a team that is terrible against the run. We ran twice in the first two drives and ran outside on both. This Duke team is soft inside, and of course we try running wide and then get tackled for a loss, get in third and long, and Sunshine can’t hit the 3rd & 10 pass to convert. On top of that, the WRs forgot how to catch tonight. This made for a shitty start. Apparently ScElliott couldn’t figure out that you are allowed to call inside zone plays or a Power, and get the damn ball moving inside. When they finally did so in the 3rd Q, what happened? Don’t even talk to me about them losing two LBs, they were already down half the damn defense coming into the game and Hill wasn’t even a starter until the injuries hit. If Elliott tells us again in his postgame that “they were doing things to take away the run in the 1st half” I’ll lose my damn mind. He just can’t see that you need to take control of a game by DICTATING to the defense at the line at the first opportunity you get. Had we been smart enough to run the ball inside more in the 1st half, those 3rd & 7-10s would’ve been 3rd & 2. We’d have also been up 21 or 28 points at the half.
I cannot recall a specific game where I’ve seen us drop so many catchable balls in the last 5 years. At least one was a TD. Galloway dropped one of our rare passes to a TE up the seam that would’ve been a huge gain. Rodgers dropped a couple balls. TL was off on several throws of course, but we cannot have these drops. I don’t think its an indicator of a problem, but there is a lot here that will keep the team focused for next week.
But this is good for reminding them to bear down and pull through some adversity, they need those lessons for the playoff run. 11-0 is where we want to be. Now we just need to be dialed in and obliterate SC by at least 80 points in the Valley.