Offense moves the ball, fails to score touchdowns

by - Senior Writer -
Kyle Parker was 28-44 for 239 yards but had two interceptions.

TALLAHASSEE, FL – Offensive coordinator Billy Napier met with the media following Saturday night’s loss to Florida St., and once again had to deal with questions about what ails the Clemson offense.

Critical drops, turnovers, penalties and missed field goals were all once again the culprit for a Tiger offense that has scored 14 points or fewer in three consecutive games. Two of those games were losses that have crippled the Tigers’ season.

“You would think coming in that if all we needed to win was 17 points, that we should be able to get it done,” Napier said. “I have to give credit to our kids. They dealt with adversity all throughout the game and they responded the right way. We just have to try and get more touchdowns.”

Clemson scored a touchdown on the opening drive of the game, yet failed to find the end zone for the remaining 55 minutes of the contest despite four trips into the red zone.

“We tried to get more aggressive when we got down there, and it didn’t work out,” he said. “We had to try and kick field goals, and we knew going in that was an issue. We had opportunities and didn’t get it done. We just have to coach them better. Tonight, we put it in the kickers’ hands, but our job is to score touchdowns when we get across the 25-yard line.”

The one play that epitomizes the Clemson offenses’ fortunes of late occurred on the very first play of the fourth quarter.

Clinging to a 10-6 lead, a Da’Quan Bowers’ interception had given Clemson the ball at the FSU 49-yard line. Clemson ran off eight plays to close out the third quarter, riding the legs of running back Jamie Harper down to the Seminole 11. Harper had already carried four times for 22 yards on the drive, including a play that saw him vault over safety Terrance Parks for a six-yard gain.

Facing a 2nd-and-6 at the 11, the Tigers called for a fade route to freshman receiver DeAndre Hopkins in the left corner of the end zone. Hopkins fell down, however, and Florida St. intercepted to thwart the drive.

Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said he would call the same play “20 times out of 20 times” after the game. Napier was queried later on who actually called the play, him or Swinney.

“It was our call,” Napier said. “It was a Clemson football team call. The guy slipped and he fell down. You can’t fault the kid for that. He was just trying to do his job and he fell down and the ball got picked off. That is gonna happen once in a while. That is the way the ball bounces sometimes.”

Napier did say there were some encouraging signs for an offense that gained 391 yards and converted 9-of-18 third down opportunities.

"I think what was pretty evident tonight is that the receiving corps is growing up,” he said. “And Kyle managed the game well. He cut it loose and made good decisions. Jamie played one of his better games. We're a team that has to move it all the way down the field. We have to do a better job of finishing drives. That's the bottom line. We didn't do that tonight. We have to get touchdowns. That's our job."

He was asked if he would have done anything differently, and he said there is always room for second-guessing once the game is over.

"There are two or three calls every game. I think our kids had a chance. They played their butts off. We just missed some chances."

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