Elliott says blame for Sugar Bowl's offensive woes shared by everybody
|Thursday, January 4, 2018, 8:01 AM- -|
NEW ORLEANS, LA – In the moments immediately following Alabama’s throttling of Clemson in the Sugar Bowl, co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott took ownership of the offensive miscues.
While it begins and ends with the coaching staff, Elliott said the blame could be shared with every person – coach and player – who had a hand in the product that was seen in the 2017 College Football Playoff semifinal.
“I'm not going to put it all on the guys up front. It's everything from myself from a coaching standpoint all the way to all the players on the field at every position,” Elliott said following Clemson 24-6 loss to Alabama. “We knew we were going to be tested. That's the strength of their is their defensive front. We knew they were going to come out with their hair on fire and it was going to be a lot like last year where we were going to have to weather the storm, try to establish some tempo, but we weren't able to do that, and once those guys get locked in, screw their cleats in the dirt and put their hands down and come after your quarterback because they know you've got to throw it, that gives them the advantage.”
Clemson’s offense was held to a three-year low in points (six) and yards (188), and Bryant completed just 18-of-36 passes for 124 yards and was intercepted twice. Wide receiver Deon Cain dropped two passes and the offensive line was whipped at the point of attack all night long.
Elliott everyone must take responsibility.
“First, it starts at every level with myself of owning it. We've got to own it and go in and figure out what went wrong,” Elliott said. “Take ownership of it and don't point any fingers. Each person that was responsible for the things that went wrong take ownership of it and then go back to work, then understand too that it's a new season and nothing is going to be given. We have to go back to the core fundamentals of our program. Everything is earned and then get back on the practice field.”
It’s easy to see what went wrong in the moments after the game, but Elliott said he hopes the distaste from the outcome will stick with the players and coaches through spring practice, summer workouts, fall camp and the 2018 season.
“I think, either way, we have a standard in the offseason so whether you're coming off of a championship or you're coming off of a situation like this,” he said. “What I think it does, though, is it helps us keep that chip our shoulder. To go back and bottle up this taste in our mouth that we don't like and go back to work and figure out how we need to fix it and come back and give it another shot next year.”
Despite the outcome, Elliott said he is proud of the way his team performed throughout the season and finished the game.
“This is a championship team,” he said. “We said it all year that they've got the heart of champions and for the group, especially offensively to do what they did and come together as a group after everything that walked out after last season, we said that would be a test of who we are from a character standpoint of how we finished the game. Obviously, not the desired result. You've got to give Alabama a lot of credit for that, but we can control what we can control, and all we could control was trying to play all the way to the end.”
On the first interception being the turning point of the game
“It was a 14-point swing possibly because we had the look that we wanted and we're getting ready to throw a post ball over the top to Ray-Ray (McCloud). The safety stayed on the backside hash. All we needed was an opportunity to get the ball off and we didn't there and it results in the interception, the return and the tack on yardage for the horse collar. That was a possibly a 14-point swing and that was huge for a momentum standpoint.”
On what went wrong
I” think it started with the field position early. We were backed up a lot and then we didn't hit some plays. We had a third-down play to Deon that if we hit that it would've sparked the tempo a little bit and given us a little bit of confidence and a little bit of momentum. We don't hit that play and then from then on out we just weren't able to get into a rhythm. Then we started to drive the ball a little bit we had some critical mistakes, uncharacteristic of ourselves and that just gave them all the confidence they needed to pin their ears back and get after it.”
On the message to the coaches and players after the first quarter
“The biggest thing is just to challenge them to make the plays that are there and then as coaches the conversation is to, hey, let's find a way to help them, so let's try to change some things up and see if can get the ball in space, get the ball out quick and make the adjustment from the protection standpoint and figure out what run schemes we can go to. The conversation is just to see what's the next best line of attack because the one we had wasn't working.”