Clemson held off Boston College on Saturday night 19-13, moving to 3-2 on the season and 2-1 in ACC play.
The Tigers still struggled to put points on the board, but the offense was definitely improved. However, it was more like a baby step forward and there’s still a lot of work to be done over the bye week.
Despite the win, Clemson fell out of the AP Poll for the first time since November of 2014, seeing a streak of 107 appearances come to an end.
Let’s take a look back at the win over BC, the good and the bad, of how it played out.
First, the Good.
1) Phil Mafah and Kobe Pace balled out. There has been a lot of talk regarding Shipley, and understandably so, but these guys are punishing runners. They wear down an opposing defense. Arm tackles simply won’t bring them down, and it bodes well for the Clemson offense. Once Shipley comes back I’m sure he will get involved as well, and eventually his role will evolve, and you will see him lined up out wide at times. Finding creative ways to get the ball in the hands of all three guys will do nothing but help this team moving forward.
2) I hear ya offensive line! Nice of you guys to show up. The word was this team didn’t have a center. Looked like they did the whole time, and he just didn’t get a chance. Rayburn got the nod due to the unavailability of Will Putnam, and the line was all the better for it. Even without Putnam, this group played their best game all season. For now, it may be best to at least consider keeping Paul Tchio on the starting roster when Putnam returns. As for Rayburn starting at center, well that’s a no-brainer.
3) DJ Uiagalelei put that shoulder down and ran the ball with authority. With that big 250 pound frame, it’s about time. He really helped open up the running game. Boston college really struggled to contain the run, as it produced most of the Clemson offense.
4) How about that defense? They are missing their two starting interior linemen, and still stuffed the run. I think BC averaged under 2 yards per carry. Andrew Booth is electric, one of the best corners in the country. James Skalski, Trenton Simpson and Baylon Spector we’re all over the field. Myles Murphy and Xavier Thomas are nigh unblockable. The list goes on and on. Brent Venebles is invaluable to this team.
Now, the bad.
By now it sounds like a broken record, but the passing game is still struggling. Uiagalelei was off on several throws, as the announcers ruthlessly pointed out. “If that ball had been a grenade, it wouldn’t have killed anyone.” Tim Hasselbeck. “Couldn’t hit the backside of a barn.” Mark Ritch.
While it’s true that he was off target on several throws, it’s also true that he isn’t getting much help from his receivers. There were several throws that were put in their bread basket that were dropped. It’s unclear whether he put too much zip on the passes or the receivers just dropped them.
What is clear is that it is absolutely killing Clemson’s third down efficiency. 3-14 isn’t going to cut it. Almost halfway through the season and they still haven’t figured it out.
If this game showed us anything, it’s that sometimes you might already have the answer on your roster. Just may need to give them a shot.