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Paws Up, Paws Down: Miami Edition

Paws Up: Offensive Efficiency
Despite the fact that Clemson’s longest run of the night was 11 yards, the Tigers constantly pushed the ball forward and converted when necessary. The 14 points they scored in the first quarter were helped along by converting 100 percent of their third-down chances. Quarterback Kelly Bryant was also 9-for-9 passing for 124 yards. Later in the third quarter, Clemson gained possession from Miami on three straight turnovers and turned two of those into points. 
Paws Down: Ball handling
Forcing turnovers have been a huge part of how Miami plays defense. They even added a chain to their celebration of that fact. Clemson appeared to have given the Hurricanes an early momentum shift after forcing the punt, but fumbling during the return. Ray-Ray McCloud was the culprit seemingly tripping on nothing and letting go of the ball. Luckily for Clemson, Miami missed their attempted field goal shifting momentum back to the Tigers. McCloud fumbled the next time out on offense, but it was recovered by tight end Milan Richard. In the third quarter, CJ Fuller fumbled the ball, but Treymane Anchrum recovered it. All in all, it was a poor effort from Clemson’s skill players in trying to build steam against a championship opponent. Turnovers start costing more during the postseason and they couldn’t afford to keep giving the ball away. 
Paws Up: Team swagger
Clemson dominated the Hurricanes throughout the entire game and they made sure to let them know it. The Tigers mimicked the Canes’ turnover chain after every takeaway and every touchdown. It wasn’t enough to beat Miami handily, no. They had to break their soul as well as their body. Coach Swinney usually emphasizes being humble and treating opponents with respect, however the stakes were higher. It was a win or go home type of game and Clemson wanted to make its mark wherever it could. 
Paws Down: Hunter Renfrow’s limited involvement 
In a blowout win, one would think that Hunter Renfrow would be at the forefront of Clemson’s passing attack, yet he hardly made a catch after the opening drive. He had three catches for 41 yards on that drive and then just two catches for four yards after that. Renfrow is the most reliable target for his quarterback, but he never really got many opportunities after Clemson went up by 21 in the first half. At that point the Tigers are just trying to kill clock, but getting Renfrow more touches could have evened out the offense more. 
Paws Up: Pass Breakups
It was not a secret that Clemson’s secondary has been banged for the better part of six games. Tanner Muse lost his starting job to sophomore K’Von Wallace and Mark Fields and Marcus Edmond have both had nagging injuries for the better part of this year. Freshman AJ Terrell and sophomore Trayvon Mullen have had to assume much larger roles in the defense because of those injuries and it teams have taken advantage. Over time, they grew into their newfound roles and have meshed better with the rest of the defense than they did at the start. Wallace in particular had an important pass breakup early in the game when wide receiver Jeff Thomas was open downfield, came down with ball, but had it ripped from his hands by the sophomore safety. Each of the young players has grown more confident and has played better because of that confidence.
Paws Down: Offensive line protection
Miami’s defense was a top unit in sacks per game and tackles for loss per game. They knew how to bring pressure and force opposing quarterbacks to rush their throws. Clemson’s offensive line wasn’t earthshatteringly terrible, but it was sub-par on the extended pass plays. The game plan for Dabo Swinney and Co. definitely revolved around running the ball efficiently and using short passes to mitigate any pass rush they had. Clemson’s line had trouble on the few long-developing pass plays that Bryant had including bryant’s rushing touchdown which was more a case of Bryant scrambling than it being a designed run. Bryant’s natural athletic ability has saved them in the past, but in the upcoming playoff games they may not be so lucky. 

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