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Clemson offense stalls as Tigers fall to Vols in Orange Bowl

Matt Mynes, Photo Editor

Clemson quarterback Cade Klubnik (2) gets sacked by a Tennessee defender during the Tigers’ matchup with the Vols in the 2022 Orange Bowl. 

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Clemson failed to capitalize in opposing territory, B.T. Potter was uncharacteristically inaccurate and the Tigers made too many mistakes in a 31-14 loss to Tennessee in the Orange Bowl on Friday night.

Although Clemson ran the most offensive plays in Orange Bowl history with 101, time after time, the Tigers couldn’t translate yardage to points.

By game’s end, Clemson crossed midfield 11 times, including all seven of the Tigers’ first first-half possessions, but could only muster up three scoring drives.

Even with nearly 13 more minutes of possession, 109 more total yards and a stingy third-down defense, the Vols seemed to be in control from start to finish. 

On the Tigers’ first first drive of the game, Clemson attempted a fake field goal but was stopped short of the first down. From that point forward, special teams continued to be an issue.

After not receiving the opportunity to kick a field goal on the first drive, B.T. Potter missed three of four field goals in the first half. After missing from 55, 49 and 42 yards, the veteran kicker finally put the Tigers on the board with a 31-yard make at the 5:11 mark in the second quarter.

Heading into halftime down 14-3, the Tigers ended up only scoring 11 second-half points, six of which came on a 4-yard Cade Klubnik quarterback keeper at the 10:01 mark in the fourth quarter — the only touchdown of the game for Clemson.

“You don’t get any points for yards,” head coach Dabo Swinney said. “The name of the game is points.” 

Clemson had 484 yards on the night and plenty of scoring opportunities but could never execute when it mattered most. For offensive coordinator Brandon Streeter, not finishing drives was “the most frustrating thing of the night.”

Meanwhile, Tennessee scored 17 points in the second half and forced the Tigers to air it out more than they has all season. 

In his first career start, Klubnik completed 30 of 54 passes for 320 yards and two interceptions, both of which came in the fourth quarter in a last-ditch effort to lead a comeback.

On the opposite side of the ball, Tennessee didn’t move the ball as well as Clemson did but found a way to reach the end zone four times and tacked on a field goal at the end to seal the victory.

With the Orange Bowl loss, Clemson finished the 2022 season with three losses for the second consecutive season, which hasn’t happened since 2010-2011. 

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Justin Robertson, Associate Editor
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