Boston College Review


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Boston College Review
I heard some of the complaints in the stadium Saturday and have heard a few days of it since. However, I understand why the offense did not look like it did in the Louisville game. In my opinion, there are several reasons why this game took on a completely different feel.

First, there was nothing different about the defense. Once again Clemson played outstanding on the defensive side of the ball. The Tigers held Boston College to seven points, 12 first downs, and only 238 yards of total offense.

The unease Saturday came from the offense not lighting up the scoreboard until the fourth quarter. So let's examine why. First, give Boston College a lot of credit for a great scheme and their execution. Clemson planned to use the quick passing game and the screen game, but Boston College was able to blow that up by putting a linebacker in front of Hunter Renfrow, the primary blocker on those passes. The bigger defender blew up the blocking scheme and eliminated the screen game.

Next, the Eagles employed a zone trap defense on the perimeter. This is the look NC State used on its pick six against Deshaun Watson last year and one FSU utilized in their interception in Tallahassee. This defense accomplished its goal of confusing Bryant on several throws.

Boston College changed their coverage for this game. They had been a man-to-man team but used a two high safety look to take away the deep ball in this contest.

The Eagles blitzed up front and played a soft zone behind it. This was something Clemson had not seen from the Eagles on film. Finally, the Eagles did a great job of punting Clemson deep in their own territory on multiple occasions. The field position dictated Clemson be more conservative in their attack.

From an x and o standpoint, Clemson was forced to turn the game into a running game which is exactly what It did. The Tigers got 113 yards from Travis Etienne, 106 yards on 22 carries from Kelly Bryant, and 73 yards on 20 carries from Tavien Feaster.

Over the past few seasons Clemson fans had grown accustomed to seeing frisbee kitchen dogs and a high-flying circus act. This team is not built that way. This is a defensive team that will have to rely on a running game to help out an inexperienced quarterback.

To me, the best news that I saw was the continued emergence of the running game. The combination of Feaster and Etienne have more promise than I could have imagined. If Clemson continues to run the ball at this rate, this offense will continue to roll.

In my opinion, Clemson's offense could be difficult to defend because you have to pick your poison. Jeff Scott said Monday that defenses have to choose a quick death or a slow death. It's nice to have confidence in your offense enough to have the ability to take whatever the defense gives you. Remember there are no defensive scheme that can take away all aspects of a game plan. This staff can make adjustments and that's what they did Saturday afternoon.

I loved how Brent Venables described the win. “The game went about how I thought it would. A tough four-quarter game. They play good defense and have a good kicking game. Play ball control offense and have a good quarterback. I thought it would be uncomfortable at some time in the second half and it was. I am really proud of our guys for keeping on fighting and battling and finding a way to win.”

According to my colleague David Hood, Venables continued, “That’s our expectation,” Venables said. “Again, every week you've got to start over and hopefully you're creating an identity in responding to those tough situations and that's what I told them, 'Don't let everybody else get you to be a Debbie Downer.' There on the sideline, you're doing adjustments and trying to get coached and then you watch on the big screen and something bad happens and the stadium's 'Ohhh,' and it deflates and we need some 'Yeah, let's go!' It needs to bring the best out of you when you face that adversity and I thought today we responded pretty good."

“I am really proud of our guys for keeping on fighting and battling and finding a way to win. Sometimes, if you win too much and you don't have your guard up, what can happen, you don't know what to do when you're in those types of situations,” Venables said. “I told our guys, ‘Be comfortable getting uncomfortable and let it bring out the best in you, not the worst.’ There can be a negativity around it, but there is nothing wrong with winning like we did today, even if it is uncomfortable for everybody.”

“I wish we wouldn't have given them seven. But they had something to do with that. And we need to be better, too,” Venables said. “But you can't disrespect this game. But this game is played with physical toughness and mental toughness, you have to play with intelligence, awareness and you have to complement each other in all three phases. It's emotion and intensity and focus and desperation and when you don't have some of those elements you're in for a dogfight. It doesn't take too much to be off.”

This one was different than Louisville. It was the game sandwiched between two road games at night where ESPN’s Game Day is featured. It was the only time in a four-game stretch where the opponent wasn't ranked in the top 15. We could have seen this kind of effort coming from a mile away.

Clemson will have to play better this week. The Tigers will probably have to perform better against Georgia Tech, NC State, and Florida State. However, you don't have to be the best team in the country every week; you just have to be better than the opponent each Saturday.

I am thankful for a 4-0 start, a number two ranking, a highly ranked defense and an offense with enough diversity to take what the defense gives them.

The Brad Hughes All-State Insurance Agency

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