Tigers continue to win in spite of themselves

by - Staff Writer -
NCSU misses a FG as time expired in regulation.
NCSU misses a FG as time expired in regulation.

CLEMSON – The Tigers are 7-0 and are winning games in spite of fumbles, interceptions and offensive malaise, but if they are to make a championship run in November they’ll have to get the offensive miscues cleaned up.

Clemson has 21 turnovers through the first seven games – including four in the dramatic 24-17 overtime win over N.C. State Saturday afternoon in Death Valley – but somehow, some way the Tigers continue finding a way to win.

However, offensive coordinator Tony Elliott said there are several key areas that must be cleaned up offensively, in order for Clemson to start winning games out right and not in spite of themselves.

“We were very, very lucky. We've put our defense, especially in the Louisville game, in a bind where they had to play over 100 snaps and then here we put them in some situations with field position that was unfair to those guys,” Elliott said after Saturday’s win. “We've got to take ownership - everyone of us at every position to our attention to detail and understand that where we want to go, that's unacceptable. We're going to flush it today and tomorrow and we're going to come back on Monday with a renewed focus on controlling the things that we can control.

“Turnovers are the most glaring thing but probably too much pressure on the quarterback and too many hits, a couple of sacks, still not converting on third-and-short like we'd like to, so there are a lot of things that we can focus on. If we'll commit to the details and doing what we can do to control the things that we can control, I think we have a chance to be special. I think there's a line you have to balance because there's one thing you know with this team is they have the spirit to win. They have the will to win and they're never going to quit. Right now they're winning in spite of and it's our jobs as coaches to figure out the buttons to push to eliminate that.”

Clemson ran 91 plays for 495 total yards – 117 yards rushing and 378 passing yards – and Jeff Scott said execution wasn’t the problem, it was self-inflicted wounds within the redzone.

"I thought we moved the ball really well. It's the turnovers, that's the big thing. We had four or five drives over 70 yards moving it really well and just got to hold on to the ball,” Scott said. “That's critical errors and we're very fortunate to win the game with those types of turnovers. It's something we'll continue to address and sometimes it's they're like drops, they get a little contagious. You just have to go back to work next week and have everybody lock in and focus a little bit more on ball security. That's the shame of it.

“It’s one thing to have three-and-outs and just can't move the ball and we have a bunch of drops or something like that. I thought we played really well up front, you've got to give N.C. State credit. They've got a really good defense and their guys played extremely hard. They caused a lot of those turnovers. It goes two ways, you've got to give them credit. We've got to do a better job of holding on to the ball. If we do that, we got a chance to be really special and this type of game isn't as close as it was today."

The good news, according to Scott, is that despite all of the miscues, the offense – and the team – refuse to give up and refuse to lose.

"Just watching some other teams through the years, maybe the 2013 Florida State team, they just found a way to win. There's something to that. I believe in our last 17 games decided by seven points or less, we're 15-2,” Scott said. “That's one thing I'll say about our guys, even though they were disappointed, I've been around some other offenses that would have been down and never would have recovered. We don't want to keep putting ourselves in this position, but there's something to be said for the resilience our guys continue to show when things don't go well all the way into overtime."

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