CLEMSON - Winning may not necessarily cure all ills, but it sure makes correcting mistakes much easier.
Clemson's dramatic 25-24 victory over No. 17 Texas A&M Saturday night at Death Valley came despite the fact that the Tigers' offense failed to score a touchdown. The struggles in the red zone, along with various ills in the kicking game, could have cost Clemson the game head coach Tommy Bowden said in his Sunday teleconference.
The fact that the Tigers won anyway, he said, makes preparing for next Saturday's game at Maryland that much easier.
"The preparation for Maryland would have been good. I don't think there would have been any lack of confidence or a letdown," Bowden said. "But now they'll come out Monday with a little more bounce in their step, and we'll be able to look at those mistakes in a way that will seem more constructive.
"So many positive things happened, though, that I think we can get (those things) corrected."
Among the misfires Saturday:
- Zero touchdowns in four trips inside the red zone. In one particular instance, quarterback Charlie Whitehurst missed a wide open Cole Downer in the back of the end zone for what would have been an easy touchdown;
- Clemson had a field goal wiped out because it had only 10 men in the game at the time. Fortunately, Jad Dean made the next kick after a five-yard penalty;
- The Tigers got caught short-handed another time offensively, once running a play in the red zone with again only 10 men on the field;
- Long-snapper Nic Riddle had a rough night in his collegiate debut, forcing punter Cole Chason to go high on a pair of punt snaps and then, on the game-winning field goal, firing low to Chason for the hold. Again the Tigers were fortunate, Chason digging out the low snap and still getting the ball down in time.
"We work hard on if you get bad snap, go ahead and follow through," said Bowden. "They might not get a good rush, or any number of things could happen. Cole did a good job handling the low snap. That can be awful distracting for kicker, and lot of times throws him off kilter.
"And as I watch film in the red zone, it looks like we have solutions somewhere in this system."
- Clemson played eight true freshmen in the first half alone;
- Bowden said he was relatively pleased with the play of his defensive line, despite the fact that the Aggies ripped off a number of big plays.
"Most of those plays weren't their fault. They were more perimeter-type runs. Overall I thought they did pretty well," he said;
- Bowden said the offense showed 18 different formations Saturday night. He said the most he could remember using in previous years was nine in last year's season opener vs. Wake Forest;
- Though he hadn't seen quarterback Charlie Whitehurst Sunday, Bowden said he thought the senior quarterback was okay. Whitehurst left early in the fourth quarter Saturday night after being knocked woozy on a running play.
"The doctors felt real good about him. They talked to him an hour after the game and he seemed to be fine," said Bowden;
- The starting time for Clemson's next home game with Miami (Sept. 17) will be determined by how the Hurricanes fare at Florida State Monday.
If Miami wins, kickoff in Death Valley will be 7:45 p.m. on ESPN. If the Seminoles win, the game will be 3:30 p.m. on ABC.