#10 Clemson 31 Louisville 16 : “The Good…The Bad…& The Ugly”

The 10th ranked Clemson Tigers got back on track today against the Louisville Cardinals, winning their 39th home game in a row, 31-16. Don’t let the final score make you think it was closer than it was. The Cardinals scored on a TD pass with :00 seconds left in the game.


The Clemson defense was very GOOD against the Cardinals. Don’t let the 400 total yards by Louisville fool ya. The Cardinals had a few big plays that accounted for big chunks of the yardage. In the first half, two chunk plays accounted for 70 yards, including a 26-yard run by Malik Cunningham to end the half. It was a play they wished they had back as Cunningham got hurt on the play, and sat out the second half. First half total yardage for Louisville after those two plays? 25 plays for 90 yards. Clemson shut down the Cardinals in the 2nd half, allowing 115 yards on 34 plays until the last drive of the game. Garbage time touchdowns count on the scoreboard, but Louisville was basically shut down by “The Goodwin Blitz Package” in the second half.


QB DJ Uiagalelei completed 19 of 27 (70.3%) passes for 185 yards and a beautiful TD pass to freshman Antonio Williams. Williams led all receivers with 10 receptions for 83 yards. The Tigers are one of six Power 5 schools in the country that has yet to have a 100-yard WR.


It is impossible to talk about this Clemson offense and not mention the ground game. Phil Mafah led the way for the Tigers with 106 yards on only 10 carries and a 4th quarter touchdown to seal the deal. Will Shipley had two fumbles on the night, losing one, but he more than made up with it with a ESPN Top Ten type touchdown run of 25 yards when he hurdled an Louisville defender, and bulldozed two more on the way to the end zone. The run game accounted for 248 yards (5.5 YPC).
Although LB Trenton Simpson was injured and did not play, the linebacking duo Jeremiah Trotter, Jr., and Barrett Carter more than made up for the loss. Trotter registered 12 tackles (7 Solo) and Carter racked up 8 tackles, two sacks, and 3.5 tackles for loss, plus an interception. These two were all over the field.


The Tigers have been BAD with turnovers lately, something the Tigers didn’t do much of in the first seven games but seems to have lost focus the last three games, having NINE turnovers, including three fumbles lost against the Cardinals. The Tigers are a -6 in turnover margin against Syracuse, Notre Dame, and Louisville. No one knows this more than Coach Dabo Swinney and I would expect more attention on eliminating turnovers next week.
Time to take issue with 4th quarter play calling. It SEEMS that every time Clemson enters the 4th quarter with a lead, the play calling goes ultra conservative. This has been the MO (mode of operation) for Dabo for several years now. Fans want to blame OC Brandon Streeter for bad play calling, but he is basically handcuffed from down on the field. It looks like Dabo wants to try and just eat some clock, then turn the game over to the defense. Hey, as long as it works but, remember, this is not Streeter, it’s all Dabo.


I’ll admit it. The officiating was UGLY in favor of the Tigers tonight. There was an obvious face mask by the Tigers on a 3rd and long play in the 3rd quarter with the score 24-10. This would have given the Cardinals a first down and kept the drive alive. In the 4th quarter, still trailing by only 14, there was what appeared to be a clear missed pass interference call that would have kept another drive alive on 4th down. I don’t know if the Cardinals would have been able to follow through if the calls had been made but the non-calls went the Tigers way……..for a change.
Clemson will host the Miami Hurricanes (5-5), wh upended Georgia Tech today, 35-14, and is hoping to NOT become the Tigers 40th straight home win. Stay tuned.

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