Offense Showing Signs Of Versatility
Through the first two games, Clemson’s offense had been successful running the football. In fact, offensive coordinator Rob Spence was so dedicated to the run, some were quietly whispering the Tigers had become too conservative. Against Miami, this offense was able to show some versatility.
The Tigers were unable to get anything going on the ground outside of long run by quarterback Charlie Whitehurst. To Spence’s credit, he found other ways to basically run the ball. The Tigers effectively used little swing passes to Chansi Stuckey and Tyler Grisham to move the ball.
Charlie Whitehurst tied a school record with 55 passing attempts, and he set the stadium record for completions (31) and attempts. It was an encouraging performance by the offense.
It was understood that at some point in the year Whitehurst and his young group of receivers would be counted upon to win a game. You would of had to search long and hard to fine someone, who thought it would have been this past Saturday. Miami sold out to stop the run, and it quickly became evident the game was on Whitehurst’s shoulders.
Coming into the game, the receivers had not dropped a pass all season. Against Miami, the receivers had unofficially three drops, but there was several big time catches as well. Curtis Baham is emerging as the go-to-guy in this group. He made two unbelievable catches against Miami, including a finger tip touchdown grab in overtime on fourth down.
A lot will be made of Whitehurst missing Stuckey in the endzone and the interception in overtime, but the composure and leadership Whitehurst showed in bringing the Tigers should be focused on. Whitehurst made several big time throws to put the offense in a position to win the game.
Miami’s defense will finish the year as one of the top units in the ACC. The last six minutes of the fourth quarter, they were at the mercy of Whitehurst. Whitehurst was at his best directed his team in crunch time. Clearly, the offense would have had all the momentum in world had they won, but they are vastly improved over where they were three games into last season.
The performance against Miami will benefit the Tigers significantly. Other teams without the caliber of athletes Miami has on defense will not be able to sell out completely to stop the run. Opposing defensive coordinators know what Whitehurst can do, but they also know this team is capable of riding Reggie Merriweather and James Davis to victory.
It was a tough loss, but we were able to see signs of how versatile Spence’s offense can potentially be.