First and foremost, let’s address the elephant in the room. Quarterback play must improve for the Tigers to get back to playing at an elite level.
There has been much talk of needed improvement along the offensive line, tights ends, wide receiver, and other positions, and rightly so. But there is only one player other than center who touches the ball nearly every play, the most important player on the field; quarterback. It’s time for the Clemson faithful to take their heads out the sand and ask for more production from DJ Uiagalelei.
No one questions the talent he has. The arm strength is undeniable. Accuracy has been an issue, but mostly, he is just five inches from being elite. Those five inches are what lies between his ears.
If you watch Uiagalelei on film, it’s easy to see that he stares down his primary target and never looks elsewhere. To put it in perspective, Justyn Ross was the only Clemson receiver to catch a pass after the first 10 minutes of the NC State game. For all of regulation and both overtimes. And it’s mostly due to lack of getting a look from the quarterback.
You could have Jerry Rice, Terrell Owens, and Randy Moss on the same team, but if the quarterback never looks at them, it wouldn’t matter. Four games in, it’s time to expect more. We’ve kind of beat around the bush and pointed fingers at other positions, but let’s be real. It all starts with the quarterback.
The offensive line hasn’t been doing Uiagalelei any favors. You want an offensive line to open up holes so big a car could drive through them. The holes that this offensive line opens up for the running backs are microscopic. Non existent. Guys are getting hit in the backfield, the time they get the ball. It’s hard to run the football when you are getting hit immediately.
It’s true that the offensive line is inexperienced. But let’s be honest; so far this season they have far from even adequate. There is zero excuse for them to be this bad. Zero.
Can you imagine Alabama, Georgia, Ohio State, or any other elite team having an offensive line this bad? Production has to improve at this position. Excuses need to stop. Players and coaches need to be held accountable.
It’s been bad for two years now, and it appears to be getting worse, not better. And the crazy thing is Clemson has more talented players at this position than they ever have. They have a serious problem that they need to figure out, and the running game will be nonexistent until they do.
Tight end production? What production? These guys have been no shows on game day. The blocking is just not there, and they have been non factors in the passing game. Sometimes you wonder if Clemson should just have a extra offensive lineman, wide receiver, or running back on the field. At least they could contribute.
To say this has been a disappointing group would be an understatement. There were high hopes for these guys after the announcement that Tony Elliot would be coaching them. Apparently, that hasn’t made any difference.
Lastly, the play calling has to improve. Tony Elliott has stated that he doesn’t feel comfortable calling the more advanced plays when the team is still struggling with fundamentals. I get that, and agree to a point, but at what point are you going to take the training wheels off? What do you have to lose?
This team hasn’t scored more than 14 points this season in regulation. 14. That’s pathetic. Anemic. And a great recipe to lose football games. Let it rip and see what happens. I think we can all say we’ve seen enough up the middle runs and wide receiver screens to last a season. Let’s mix it up and challenge defenses. There really isn’t anything to lose.
Hopefully Clemson can put it all together and play a complete game. Maybe today is that day. Now that the pressure’s off following the NC State loss, maybe, just maybe, we’ll see this team become what everyone though they would be.
Clemson and Florida State have released depth charts ahead of this weekend’s matchup at Death Valley.
Clemson vs Florida Atlantic: Depth Charts
The ninth-ranked Tigers will travel to Duke to face off with the Blue Devils. Kickoff is set for 8 pm and the game will be televised by ESPN.