Wake-up call: Tigers learning from adversity


by - Staff Writer -
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Travis Etienne had 113 yards against Boston Collegeg Saturday

CLEMSON – Easy wins are great for the fans and great for morale, but in the face of adversity you learn the most about your players and your team.

For three-and-a-half quarters second-ranked Clemson struggled to run the ball, pass the ball and get any rhythm on offense, but when all was said and done the Tigers downed Boston College 34-7.

In all, Clemson’s offense racked up 482 total yards – 342 rushing and 140 passing – held onto the ball for nearly 35 minutes and was perfect in the redzone. However, most of that came in the fourth quarter with the Tigers’ backs against the wall after Boston College tied the game at 7-7.

Co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott said he was proud of the way the player and the offense responded when things weren’t going their way.

"There's a different kind of pressure in the fourth quarter with the way the game had gone on,” Scott said after the game. “You find out a lot about each guy individually and you find out a lot about your offense and your team and I was really pleased with the way that those guys responded and the offensive line I felt like really took over in the fourth quarter. I think we had 368 yards rushing so I give those guys a lot of credit and obviously it's still early in the season and we've got a lot of stuff we can correct of this video but at the end of the day, finding a way to get the win and the way that we responded when that pressure got really turned up there in the fourth quarter were the biggest positives."

A myriad of issues led to a sluggish offensive output – poor field position and a lack of execution from all levels of the offense – but Scott gave Boston College a lot of credit for bringing in a new twist on the Eagles’ scheme.

"First of all, give Boston College credit. That's my ninth or tenth year playing those guys and we told the guys all week that it's going to be a physical group, but it's a group that you have to earn it,” Scott said. “These guys never give up easy, give their coaches a lot of credit. They did a lot of good stuff schematically, a little different than what they've shown on video this year and it took us a little while to kind of figure that out there in the first half. We just didn't execute and on offense, it takes all 11 guys to do their job and just a few things in the first half where one guy here or there didn't execute.

"Also poor field position, we were backed up on the minus-13 on average and that hurt us just something that we've always talked to our offensive guys about is 'How do you respond to adversity?' One thing that we've really been talking to the offense about is what are the common traits of Clemson's offense through the years. What is our DNA of the Clemson offense? It goes back seven or eight years since coach Swinney's been our coach. One thing we always talk about is Clemson football team and Clemson's offense is we respond in adversity. Whenever those tough times come, we know how to respond so for 27 unanswered points in the fourth quarter, this is still a lot of new guys out there on the offense.”

Everyone on the offense, including quarterback Kelly Bryant, was frustrated Saturday afternoon, but Scott said it’s how Bryant responded when the team needed him most.

"I think that obviously he was frustrated and we were frustrated and again BC did a good job, they gave us a lot of different looks,” he said. “They played a lot of man coverage going into the season, pretty much about 90-percent. Today they did a lot of things different so the looks were a little different for him and obviously they were getting pressure back there bringing more guys so you've got to give him credit for being a first-year starter and being able to go battle and we talk about all the time and coach Swinney says 'There's nothing less important than the score at halftime,' and that's really where we were. It's a four quarter game and you're going to take some shots early. It's how you respond and I felt like Kelly came back and did a good job there in the second half, especially in the fourth quarter leading the offense and taking what they were giving us."

Sandwiched between two emotional games against Auburn and Louisville and a College GameDay atmosphere at Virginia Tech next weekend, Scott said he hoped the game served as a wake-up call for Clemson.

"Absolutely. The biggest thing we challenged those guys with all week was to come out after last week with 'You better have your mind right,'” Scott said. You have that right mindset and it wasn't a situation where our guys were just completely losing it, we knew it going in but it's a very fine line and just didn't feel like our guys came out ready for that fast start and I think that's what we have to improve on as an offense and what we have to figure out. Sometimes it's going to be like that. Sometimes it's not going to be scripted. How do you respond? I think that's what we did positive this time but I think it'll definitely get our guys attention and the truth is when you're playing in this league, anybody can beat you. We definitely found that out today."

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