The Student News Site of Clemson University

The Tiger

The Tiger

The Tiger

Tiger offense struggles against eagles

Katie Tressler, staff

Most thought Clemson would find its first real test against Auburn or Louisville. Auburn kept the game close, but Clemson pulled away soon enough. Louisville, however, didn’t live up to expectations. Boston College played the defending champs closer than any other team this year. 

Though the Eagles were only held to a total of seven points, they held the Tigers to seven through the first three quarters. The lone score of the first half was on a Kelly Bryant rushing touchdown from 11 yards out.  

The fourth quarter finally saw a breakout by the Clemson offense to the tune of 27 points, including two touchdowns by Travis Etienne. Etienne is a rising star for this Clemson offense, but is behind new starter Tavien Feaster, Adam Choice and CJ Fuller. 

The biggest detriment to the Tigers’ offense was their playcalling. In a word, it was simple. There was no attempt to trick the defense at all. Play-action, jet sweeps, counters, roll outs and bootlegs are all ways to confuse the defense. There were no plays called that faked anything. If the offense looked like it was going to the run to the left, they were. 

The offensive line had problems, too. Mitch Hyatt did well on the left side with Taylor Hearn, but the center and right side of the line was leaking pretty bad. Only two sacks were given up, mostly due to Kelly Bryant’s scrambling abilities, but the blocking overall was dismal. 

Bryant shouldn’t shoulder much of the blame because he didn’t have any time to throw, but he needs to give his receivers some chance. Going through your first progression and giving up on the play after that is the wrong thing to do as a quarterback. Bryant needs to stay in the pocket as long as he can and keep looking downfield. 

Bryant has a penchant for staring down his lead receiver. A couple of passes were broken up by the defense because he looked exactly where he was going to throw for the entirety of the play. The coaching staff needs to help him break

that habit. 

The best pass of the day went to Diondre Overton toward the start of the fourth quarter. Overton ran a vertical sideline route and was one-on-one with the cornerback. Bryant threw him a jump ball after looking at Hunter Renfrow over the middle. The 39-yard catch set up Clemson’s second touchdown of the game. 

Deon Cain, Ray-Ray McCloud and Hunter Renfrow were largely ineffective as the defense took away most of the over-the-middle routes leaving the sideline routes the only options, but Bryant didn’t have any time in the pocket to make those throws. 

Bryant had 22 rushing attempts for 106 yards, but only 17 completions on 22 attempts. Deshaun Watson became a better quarterback and players when he stopped running the ball so much. It might be time for Bryant to do the same. 

Kelly Bryant threw two interceptions as well, although one wasn’t really his fault and the other one was a tip ball. The first came when Bryant was targeting McCloud, but his offensive lineman was pushed back into him causing his throw to straight up in the air. The ball found its way into cornerback Isaac Yiadom’s awaiting hands. 

The other came when Bryant missed Renfrow’s hands, but Renfrow was able to just tip the ball. The contact stopped the ball’s momentum and it fell backward for another pick. The argument can be made that it was Bryant’s fault for not making a good throw, but a tip ball could have just as easily gone out of bounds than right back to a defender. 

Two fumbles were forced as well, but both were recovered. Bryant’s fumble was picked up by left guard Taylor Hearn and ran 11 yards before being tackled for the first down. That run gave the offense some momentum and kept the drive going for an eventual touchdown, Clemson’s first of the day. 

The second was by CJ Fuller who had just entered the game. Fuller had been benched as the starter in favor of Feaster, so he was already on a short leash. That leash was cinched as soon as Fuller fumbled. It was recovered by Clemson, but it will be rare to see Fuller take over as the main back for the rest of the year unless there is

an injury. 

The one good thing that came from the offense was seeing Travis Etienne barrel through Boston College’s stout front seven for not one, but two scores late in the fourth quarter. His first came on a 50-yard run after he forced a missed tackle and shed another to break through the middle of the defense. 

His second was a combination of Feaster blocking ahead of him for three straight plays that culminated in a spin-and-score touchdown. Don’t be surprised if Etienne becomes the number two guy behind Feaster and especially in two-back sets for the rest of the year.

Kicker Alex Spence took over for Greg Huegel, who injured his ACL at practice on Wednesday and is out for the year. He missed an extra point, but he didn’t really get much of a chance to show if he was going to be reliable because Clemson didn’t attempt any field goals. No one knows his effective range yet, but he could be a very important piece moving forward, especially next week at Virginia Tech.

Clemson will go on the road to Blacksburg, Virginia to play against Virginia Tech at 8 p.m. on ABC. 

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Tiger

Your donation will support the student journalists of Clemson University . Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Tiger

Comments (0)

All The Tiger Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *