Clemson vs Wake Forest : “The Good…The Bad…The Ugly”

Good, Bad and the Ugly

Let’s go ahead and put this out there. Clemson does not control it’s on destiny in their pursuit of another trip to the ACC Championship Game. That all rests with someone else. However, the Tigers did their part against Wake Forest, dismantling the Deacons 48-27 in front of a sellout crowd.

There was a ton of “Good” in today’s game. Obviously, the run game has to be mentioned first. Sophomore RB Kobe Pace “paced” the ground game, racking up 191 yards on 24 carries and 2 touchdowns. Running mate Will Shipley also cracked the century mark, picking up 112 yards in 19 carries, also getting two touchdowns and also throwing a TD pass to TE Davis Allen. It was more than obvious that the offensive line was going to do their part, and they did.

As a team, the Tigers rushed for a season high 333 yards, and the OL was opening holes all day long. This line has had its ups and downs, so having a game like this is great for their confidence. G Will Putnam returned to the lineup after missing a couple of games and solidified that right guard position.

QB DJ Uiagalelei played like a leader today. There were still a few miscues, but overall, he hit passes when he needed to, he ran the ball when he needed to, even though he is still nursing that knee injury. His 58 yard TD pass to Beaux Collins was a thing of beauty. Uiagalelei started the game completing only 4 of his first 9 passes for 84 yards, but finished hitting 7 of his last 10 for 126 yards. He also added 30 yards on 8 rushes. The offensive line allowed ZERO sacks.

With all the injuries to Clemson wide receivers, freshmen Beaux and Dacari Collins manned the wideout positions, and Beaux had himself a day, bringin in 4 passes for 137 yards to include a one-handed catch on the 58-yard touchdown reception. Davis Allen was the leading receiver, catching 6 passes for 53 yards, including a 2-yard pop pass touchdown from Shipley.

The defense played lights out. Not enough can be said about the way the defense manhandled a Wake Forest offense that has had its way with most defenses coming into the game. Take away the late 4th quarter touchdown, and basically, Sam Hartman and crew were pretty much shut down. Final stats are going to show the Tigers held only a 25-24 first down edge, but WF threw the ball 44 times, completing 28 for 370 yards in an effort to catch the Tigers. The Demon Deacons was held to a season low 36 yards on 31 rushes. It didn’t hurt that Hartman was sacked 7 times for 34 yards.

LB Trenton Simpson had another outstanding game recording a team high 9 tackles with one sack and 1.5 tackles for loss. Fellow LB Baylon Spector also recorded 9 tackles, credited with half a sack and half a tackle for loss. All in all, the Tigers recorded 10 tackles for loss along with the 7 sacks. In Clemson’s first 7 games, the defense recorded 17 sacks. In the last four games, the James Skalski led defense has registered 23 sacks.

The secondary was under the gun having to defend against this potent Wake Forest passing game, and while 370 yards given up seems like they were abused, they weren’t. “Bend, but don’t break.” Freshman safety Andrew Mukuba had himself a day, making 8 tackles and batting down two passes.

Mr. Dependable BJ Potter put every kickoff in the endzone and got the Tigers on the board with a 50 yard field goal after the Tigers’ first drive stalled.

There really wasn’t a lot of bad to discuss during the game except maybe the ESPN Announcer Greg McElroy constantly complaining about all the non-calls against Clemson. “That was pass interference, not sure what the officials were seeing.” “That was clearly pass interference, see how he grabbed his arm.” I basically had to turn down the volume during the game in order to watch the game without listening to the commentary.

Ugly? Unsure where to go with this but let’s go with the Wake Forest run defense. With the lack of wide receivers on the Clemson side, the expectation was for Wake to stack the box and make DJ throw the ball. That didn’t happen and the combination of Pace/Shipley combined for 303 yards and 4 touchdowns. Is the Clemson offensive line hitting its stride going into game 12 of the 2021 season? Maybe, or maybe the Wake Forest defense was just what the doctor ordered for this Clemson offense. Either way, the Demon Deacon run defense had no answer.

The Tigers are still on the outside looking in. The only way they make the ACC Championship game is for Wake Forest and NC State BOTH to lose next week. Next on deck for Clemson is their rivalry game against the team in the middle of the state. The Tigers would love nothing more than to extend their win streak against USC.

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