Killer Instinct

by - Radio Host -

Killer Instinct

Clemson has enjoyed an unbelievable amount of success on the football field over the past few seasons, and there has been very little to complain about. One of my very few complaints is the Tigers have often lacked a killer instinct and the ability to put teams away. In several games in the past two seasons, the Tigers could have avoided some drama. Instead, they have had to recover a few onside kicks and bat down some Hail Mary passes.

The Tigers have dominated some opponents, and you have to give the opponents credit for coming back in some cases, but the following are examples of how Clemson could have avoided late game decisions:



Clemson goes up two scores, 20-10 with 9:57 to go but allows a 100-yard kickoff return to cut the lead to 20-17. The offense had the ball twice in the final nine minutes but couldn't put the game away and had to rely on the defense to endure a failed Hail Mary attempt.

Notre Dame

Clemson goes up 21-3 in the first minute of the third quarter and recovers a fumbled kickoff return on the next play. The Tigers took over at the Irish 35 but missed a chance to go up three scores on the next three drives. As a result, Clemson had to hold off an Irish two-point conversion in the final seconds to win 24-22.

NC State

Clemson took a 20-point lead into the fourth quarter but allowed 14 fourth quarter points to make the game interesting. The offense did score nine fourth quarter points for the 56-41 win.


The Tigers raced out to a 14-0 lead but allowed Syracuse back in the game several times including a 14-14 tie. After leading 31-17 late in the third quarter, Clemson let the Orange climb to within a score twice in the fourth quarter before winning by ten.

South Carolina

Clemson had a 21-3 lead in the third quarter against the arch rival and another 28-10 lead late in the period. Clemson allowed 29 second half points, and the game got tight as the Gamecocks pulled to within three points in the final period. The Tigers did pull away for a five-point victory in Columbia.

North Carolina

The Tigers lead 35-16 late in the third stanza of the ACC title game but gave up 21 points in the final 17 minutes and had to endure an on-sides kick to preserve the victory and the ACC title.



Clemson held a 19-6 lead after a missed extra point could have put the Tigers up by 14 points. Clemson led by 13 with less than five minutes to go on the Plains but gave up a touchdown as Auburn cut the lead. Clemson could have put the game away but failed on fourth down and had to defend two Auburn Hail Mary attempts to win 19-13.


The Tigers had Troy down 27-10 with less than ten minutes remaining but gave up two scores and had to recover an onside kick to beat Troy by six.

Georgia Tech

It may be hard to make a case for a 26-7 win as being as an example of lacking a killer instinct, but Clemson led 23-0 at the half and had several opportunities to bury Tech in the second half. Instead, Tech gained some momentum and played respectfully in the second stanza.

NC State

Clemson led NC State 17-10 entering the fourth quarter but gave up a 14 play, 75-yard drive that knotted the game at 14. Clemson's offense could not score, and the Tigers had to have a missed 33-yard field goal to put the game in overtime where the Tigers won 24-17.


The Tigers jumped out to a 14-0 lead in Tallahassee and had the ball in FSU territory twice with a chance to go up three scores. Instead, the Seminoles clawed their way back into the game, and Clemson had to have two sacks to put the game away and win 37-34.


Clemson had multiple chances to put away the Panthers including twice in the fourth quarter. An interception in the end zone with an eight-point lead might have sealed the game. Failed third and fourth down short yardage conversions gave Pitt the chance it needed and the Panthers escaped with a 43-42 upset of the second-ranked Tigers.

Despite the close calls, Clemson has played for one national title and is currently in the top four for this year's playoff. Winning close games beats losing, but I would love to see more of a killer instinct develop.

The Brad Hughes All-State Insurance Agency

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