Tigers find no rhythm in a city known for music
|Wednesday, January 3, 2018 1:50 PM- -|
NEW ORLEANS, LA – Pitchers talk about needing to get into a rhythm before they can be successful on a given night. The NBA’s best shooters love to get into a rhythm from the outside, and Tom Brady is at his most dangerous when he stops and fires with precision.
Clemson’s beleaguered offense never found that rhythm in Monday’s Sugar Bowl. Wide receiver Hunter Renfrow stood at his locker and wondered when was the last time the Tigers failed to score a touchdown (it was in 2014 at Georgia Tech). In a city known for its music, the rhythm was lacking.
Even when the game was out of reach and the precious last few seconds were ticking off the clock, Clemson’s last attempt at finding the endzone failed on a fourth-down misfire.
It was that kind of night.
“We could not really get in a rhythm, especially early,” quarterback Kelly Bryant said afterward. “We did not really have good field position. There was a bunch of three-and-outs so it was kind of hard.
“We knew adversity would kick in during this game, so we just continued to stay together and play and we felt like when we would get into a rhythm, we would get right back out of the rhythm. It was tough.”
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.
“I think it started early with the field position,” offensive coordinator Tony Elliott said. “We had a failed third-down early where Deon dropped the ball and if we had hit that it might have sparked us a little bit and given us some rhythm. And then we started driving a little bit and had some uncharacteristic mistakes that caused them to pin their ears back and get after us.”
Bryant said the night will serve as a painful lesson.
“We just kept making critical errors and kept shooting ourselves in the foot,” Bryant said. “We had plays called and the right calls, but everybody was not on the same page. Like I said, we just want to learn from it.”
Clemson managed just 64 rushing yards on 33 attempts, an average of 1.9 yards per carry. Continuing a season-long trend of a quarterback-heavy attack – leaning more on Bryant than the running backs – three running backs combined for just 13 carries while Bryant had 19 carries.
Nobody found running room as the offensive line failed to create space.
“It was frustrating,” Bryant said the lack of running room. “You can give a lot of credit to that and to all the three-and-outs we were having. We just really could not get in a rhythm. It’s hard to play when you really can’t get in a rhythm and you are coming off the field after three-and-out after three-and-out.
“So like I said, that was a really good defense. We knew this game was going to be won in the trenches on both sides. We could not really get it done.”