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For Clemson’s offense, panic is the enemy

Lawton Hilliard, Contributor

DJ Uiagalelei (5) runs towards the endzone against South Carolina State on Sept. 11, 2021 in Memorial Stadium.

As Clemson football has dropped from No. 3 to No. 9 after three weeks of play, it is clear that the offense has regressed from last season significantly. With that regression, concerns have come from players, coaches and fans, but what is now concern cannot turn into panic.  

Panic will only deteriorate the already low level of continuity among the offense. Yet, fans, many of whom have expressed their thoughts on social media, have put a target on offensive personnel. 

From Offensive Coordinator Tony Elliot to quarterback DJ Uiagalelei the focus among fans is no longer encouraging them but instead criticizing every mistake. It is a long season, and with nine regular season games still on the schedule, there are still plenty of scenarios that will allow Clemson to make the College Football Playoff. 

By no means should the mistakes be discounted. Uiagalelei has been inaccurate on several key throws, the offensive line does not consistently block pass rushers, and the play-calling can be questionable at times.  

However, many fans have seemed to have forgotten the roster turnover. After having five high-caliber offensive players move on to the NFL, Clemson started the season with a new starting quarterback, an entirely different wide receiver room, a new mix of running backs and a new offensive line combination.  

College football teams experience changes every year, but the shift in experience from the likes of Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne to Uiagalelei and Will Shipley is visible. 

“When you got young players that are very inexperienced, you know, next thing you know you’re not sure, then what goes out the window is your fundamentals, your technique,” said Head Coach Dabo Swinney on Tuesday. 

“It’s effort with technique is what leads to execution. That’s the part that’s hurting us right now. It’s the type of technique and fundamentals that you have to have to have precision in what you do.” 

The effort is there, but as the team acknowledges, the execution has left much to be desired.  

“When things aren’t going right where you feel like they should be, and the expectations that we have for ourselves aren’t going as well as planned, you just can’t press,” said Uiagalelei on Monday. 

“At the end of the day it’s going to eventually come. You just gotta keep working, and you just gotta keep following the plan, trusting the process. You know, Rome wasn’t built in a day.” 

Uiagalelei has taken much of the blame for Clemson’s lack of offensive success. Although he has made mistakes this season, if he is able to revert to his play of last year, Clemson’s offense will take a giant leap forward.  

There is a tendency in sports for people to overreact to a small sample size. Clemson’s offense is a long way off from reaching its potential, but panicking and making rash decisions will only worsen the situation. 

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