Not clicking on all cylinders
|Sunday, September 11, 2016, 7:01 AM- -|
CLEMSON – Heading into last week’s contest at Auburn, the Clemson offense had surpassed the 500-yard mark in 11 consecutive games.
During the first two games of 2016, the offense hasn’t come close to those kinds of numbers. Clemson had 416 total yards against Troy in Saturday’s 30-24 victory, but the offense was hit or miss (mostly miss) for most of the afternoon.
Clemson’s offense returns 28 lettermen, including five of the top-six rushers and receivers around a Heisman Trophy candidate in junior quarterback Deshaun Watson. Add in wide receiver Mike Williams and the offense should be unstoppable.
“We're just not clicking the way that we know we can. We know we what we have in that room and for whatever reason we're just not on the right page right now but we'll get that right,” co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott said after the game. “I know all those guys are competitors and we'll go back to work on Monday and get it right. The positive is we probably played one of the worst games we could play and found a way to win it and came back to get 17 points in the fourth quarter after all the adversity I think showed a lot with that group. Bottom line is we got to get better and we know that and we will."
Scott said adversity is a normal part of any season.
"That's what we talk about all the time. There's going to be adversity,” he said. “I know everybody thinks it's just going to happen easy every drive and there's not going to be any adversity but there's going to be adversity. There always is and throughout the season and you never know when it's coming and how you're going to respond. That's what we challenged those guys at halftime. Hey, there's nothing we can do about all the mistakes made and we had enough mistakes in the first half for the whole season. We got to let those go and concentrate on what to do better the next game."
The Clemson running game struggled to get going for most of the afternoon, gaining just 122 yards on 32 attempts.
"We'll have to go back and watch it on video. First I should give Troy a lot of credit and their coaches did an excellent job and had a great scheme,” Scott said. “Their players played extremely hard. I give them a lot of credit and we'll go back own video and look at where the issues are and why we were a little bit slow and couldn't get the run going early. They probably had extra guys in the box to try and force us to throw the ball. When you do that it comes down to execution, it's not a very hard game. It's throwing and catching and we were just too inconsistent today to move the way we wanted to move."
"Going in to this game we wanted to play a lot of guys. Regardless of what's going on with the plan going in and the depth, those guys need to play. The backups don't need to just play when you're up 30 points. They need to play when the game is on the line and that's something we had scripted and the trust we have in those backup backs. Wayne was fine."
One bright spot was the play of receiver Ray-Ray McCloud, who overcame a critical second quarter mistake on a punt return to lead the Tigers in receiving with seven catches for 86 yards.
"That was a shame obviously on the punt return. He's obviously very disappointed because that was a great play until the very end.,” Scott said. “That's something we talk about and finishing the play and giving the ball to the ref. He made a mistake and hopefully he'll learn from it and we won't see that again from him. He did some really good things out there and it's not a surprise because he's done that for us all camp. Hopefully he'll be better from that mistake and be better next week."
Watson overthrew at least one receiver on a deep ball, and Deon Cain had another deep ball swatted away by a defender, marking the second straight week the Tigers failed to hit a long throw.
"It's just execution with the throw and the catch. There's times we have a really nice throw and a drop. There's times where we're open and we just can't connect,” Scott said. “The way our offense is built off those explosive plays you have to hit those. When you're not hitting them there's three and outs involved with that. There's no panic by any of our coaches and players because we know what we're capable of and for whatever reason it's just not happening now. Just come back next week and improve. It's about us and throwing and catching and doing the little things."
Clemson receivers dropped seven passes Saturday, and Scott said he’s concerned.
"Oh yeah. Absolutely. We've probably had more drops in the first two games than all last year.,” he said. “I'm not sure where that's coming from we've been throwing and catching well in practice. We're just not carrying that over. It's something we'll have a huge focus on as we start practice on Monday."