Clemson vs Pitt: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Good, Bad and Ugly

Clemson went into yesterday’s game against Pittsburgh needing a win to stay in the race for the ACC Championship game. Needless to say they fell a little short. The game was not without it’s Good, Bad and Ugly.

The Tigers had possibly their best 1st quarter of the season, holding a 7-0 lead, putting up 142 total yards, and holding this explosive Pitt offense to a little over 70 yards. The return of Will Shipley provided a spark to an already improving ground game. However, the wheels came off the bus in the second quarter.

Up 7-0, QB DJ Uiagalelei lofted a beautiful pass downfield to a wide open Shipley. As was the case all night long, the pass was dropped. It’s hard to explain how WRU can drop as many passes as they have this year, but this one seemed to take the wind out of the sails of the entire Tiger team. To make matters worse, guard Matt Bockhorst went out in the second quarter with a season ending injury, as did Tight End Braden Galloway. This team is snake bit with injuries. Once again, the Tigers went into the game short handed at WR, adding Joseph Ngata to the list of players missing a game. Combine the loss of Bockhorst and the dropped TD pass, things went south from there.

Nothing can turn a loss more ugly than “loss of focus” plays and the Tigers had their share of them. Down 14-7 at the half, the Tigers received the second half kickoff with hopes of getting off to a good start. That, however, did not happen. DJ makes an unwise forward pitch, intended for the running back, right into the arms of the defensive tackle, who promptly returned it for a touchdown. Just like that, it’s 21-7. Was this more of a “loss of focus” or was it just an outstanding play by a Pitt defensive lineman. Maybe a little of both.

There were a couple of BIG penalties that kept drives alive for the Panthers and both were unnecessary. On a 3rd down pass play by Pitt, the ball was dropped by the Pitt receiver, only to have LB Baylon Spector come in with a late hit. Had the collision not been so violent, and trust me, it was a big hit, the drive would have been stopped. Late in the game, with the Tigers down 27-17 and Pitt driving, the defense made a big 3rd down stop and was primed to get the ball back. DE Justin Mascoll ripped his helmet off on the field, and dropped it to the ground. A 15-yard penalty kept the drive alive and the Tigers never got the ball back.

The Tigers gave up a season high 464 yards. They played a very good 1st quarter, running the ball well, and blitzing QB Kenny Pickett, making him hurry his throws and putting pressure on the pocket. Somewhere around the dropped probable TD pass, the tide turned. The Tigers went away from the running game, and stopped blitzing, giving the 5-year senior time to find his passing game.

Clemson has its work cut out for them next week against Florida State. This has been a tough year for Dabo’s Charges. The Seminoles are a chance for the Tigers to get on track. Game number 8 of the season, noone, including Dabo, could have seen a 4-3 record and all but out of the ACC race. Clemson fans aren’t used to this type of play. Dabo and his team are not used to this type of play. Call it Murphy’s Law. Call it snakebit. The Tigers need something good to happen. Make it happen, Dabo.

One Comment

  • I have reluctantly accepted that we have insurmountable issues on offense. But I am totally puzzled by the giant step back by the defense. No pressure on a decent quarterback? A good but slow linebacker on their fastest receiver? Prevent which doesn’t ever prevent anything? I hate it for Skalski and Turner who have given so much to leave like this.


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