For years under Dabo Swinney the Clemson Football program has thrived under a prolific offense.
That is, until this season. Six games in and the Tigers have one of the worst offenses in all of the Power-5. A fairly steep drop off for a program that has made six consecutive playoff appearances.
Currently, Clemson ranks last in the ACC in scoring offense, next to last in total offense and 12th in passing offense.
The offensive line has been underwhelming, at best. Clemson has already started three different centers and have played musical chairs at LG. The wide receivers have struggled with drops and the blocking on the perimeter has been less than stellar. Quarterback play hasn’t been anything close to what was expected with D.J. Uiagalelei.
The lone bright spots have been the success sophomore running back Kobe Pace and freshman running back Phil Mafah have experienced over the past two games.
Due to all the struggles, the Tigers have yet to even establish an identity on offense, something offensive coordinator Tony Elliott has never experienced.
“I’ll be honest, no,” Elliott said when asked if he’s ever had an offense take this long to establish that identity. “It’s challenging, but at the same time there’s an excitement to see how these guys are going to respond. I can’t wait until this takes off.”
However, Elliott still thinks much of the issues on the offensive side of the ball stem from a lack of execution and with No. 23 Pitt up next, the offensive coordinator is hopeful this is the week it all comes together for his group. The high-powered offense of the Panthers, led by quarterback Kenny Pickett, is averaging 48 points per game.
“I think everybody believes each week that it’s going to happen, and that’s why they’re practicing the way they’re practicing,” Elliott said. “I think they understand the challenge this week, that this would be a great week for everything to fall into place.”
The Tigers have been their own worst enemy at times this season, and Elliott said if they could just get some consistency, the team could easily cut out some of the self inflicted wounds that have so often stalled drives. Something they can ill afford this weekend at Pitt.
“The mistakes are correctable,” Elliott said. “It’s not like guys just going all over the place. A lot of it is guys losing their one-on-one matchup. We have a screen out in the first drive, and Ajou Ajou, a young guy, is a little bit confused so he stops and the play results in a TFL. Now you have to go empty and take a shot and try to get the ball downfield. You have five-man protection and you get a sack. You get going and have a bad snap, or a bad penalty.”
“So it’s all correctable. I think guys understand what we’re doing and communication was good for the most part.”
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