Clemson offensive woes continue

by - Senior Writer -

CLEMSON – Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney just shook his head when asked, following Clemson’s 14-10 loss to TCU on Saturday, if he would have marked the game as a win if someone had told him before the game that C.J. Spiller would have a huge offensive day and that the Tigers would commit no turnovers against a tenacious TCU defense

“No question, no doubt about it,” Swinney said. “We did a good job of mixing it up and keeping them off balance against a very good defense. But we missed some big plays, and the missed touchdown opportunity to Dwayne Allen stands out.”

Trailing 14-10 late in the fourth quarter, the Tigers drove down and had the ball at the TCU 16-yard line. Facing a second-and-13 from the 16, tight end Allen flashed open on a skinny post and had the linebacker beat for what appeared to be a touchdown, but Allen slipped on the play and quarterback Kyle Parker’s pass sailed high, and the Tigers were unable to score.

“We were close to winning the game right there,” Swinney said. “It was the right call, the right play; we just did not make the play. But it was certainly there to be made.”

The Tiger offense has now scored just one offensive touchdown in the last nine quarters. They scored two touchdowns in the third quarter at Georgia Tech, and then settled for two field goals in the fourth quarter.

The offense was held without a touchdown in last week’s win over Boston College, and scored just the one touchdown on Saturday, and all involved know that production will have to improve if they are going to make a run at an ACC title.

Receiver Jacoby Ford said the offense needs “man up” and play harder if they want to turn red zone trips into touchdowns.

“As an offense, when you get down in the red zone, you want to put up points, and not just field goals,” Ford said. “When you play a good team like TCU, you have to put up touchdowns to put that team away. We put up some points, but just not the ones we really needed. I think we just have to go out there and man up a little more and play better.”

The offensive line certainly cannot shoulder the blame for a lot of the woes, but instead the fingers point a little more toward an, at times, erratic Parker and a receiving corps that other than Ford consistently fails to create separation, make key catches, or come back to the quarterback if the protection breaks down.

A key stat in the loss is the fact that Ford led all receivers with six catches, but Spiller was next with three catches. Terrance Ashe was the only other wideout to have a catch, and he caught one pass for nine yards.

Clemson guard Thomas Austin said the Tigers have to turn their game-breaking potential into touchdowns if they want to be the type of team they think they can be.

“This is the first game that we’ve really been able to open up the offense,” Austin said. “We kept them off-balance early on. There were flashes when you could see how explosive our offense can be. We just have to be more consistent making those plays on a regular basis.”

Clemson offensive coordinator Billy Napier was asked about the one touchdown in nine quarters, and whether a lot of that could be blamed on the poor weather throughout the last two games, or on offensive execution, and he said the blame can be laid on the coaches.

“That’s a good question,” Napier said. “I am proud of our players and the way they battled today, but I think there are some plays out there that can be made, but I also think we can coach a little bit better. I think we can do a better job of coaching, and those plays that are left out there to be made we will make those plays. If you want to be an elite program in the country, this is the type of game you have to win.”

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