It’s that time of the week again – a look back at the weekend that was. Clemson football took a short trip to Winston-Salem and found themselves in a knife fight. But in the end, they found a way to win. So bust open a box of Winston-Salem’s own Krispy Kreme and let’s look back at the Smoldering Ruin in Wake Forest.
Well would you look at that. Clemson found a way to win a closely contested ranked win, exploded on offense, and still managed to make everyone mad about something. But I think that’s par for the course right now.
Let’s start with what got everyone in a tizzy. For the first time since the end of the 2020 season, the Tigers didn’t seem to have an answer for the majority of the game defensively. After jumping out 14-0 in the 1st quarter, the Tigers were outscored 35-15 over the course of the next 2 quarters. I think it’s important to point out that for the duration of the 2nd and 3rd quarters, the defensive backs seemed lost. Wake Forest was able to pick up Clemson’s pressure and ultimately knew the matchups they had on the edge. Both of Wake’s wide receivers had career days on both sides against Clemson’s DB group that was filled with (buzzwords) youth and inexperience. Don’t worry, we’ll get back to those buzzwords in a minute.
The first point I want to make that no one has really mentioned is Wes Goodwin and company’s ability to adjust in the 4th quarter. We’ve seen 4 games now where a team comes out blazing in the 3rd, but Clemson is able to scheme something in the final quarter to limit opportunities. This happened again on Saturday.
After giving up a whopping 21 points in the 3rd, the Tigers minimized the Deacs to just 3 points in the 4th. The Tigers dropped into a Tampa 2 coverage and, though it yielded more rush yards than they would want, it ran the clock out for the Deacs on a crucial final drive that got them to midfield. Some of that was play calling, but it would also prove to be the key change in double overtime when Clemson was ultimately able to get pressure and get Wake off schedule.
To my other point, Clemson is injured in it’s secondary and has a lot of cobwebs to work through with some of the more experienced guys. Fred Davis has missed a ton of time and Nate Wiggins was playing for the 1st time since Georgia Tech. Wake Forest did a good job of understanding that and finding match ups once it got settled in. Clemson won’t be perfect this year in pass coverage even when they get everyone back. I don’t think it can be overstated how much of an impact it is to get guys like Jones, Mukuba, and Greene back. I wouldn’t be surprised if you see similar schemes going forward to help out the back end of the defense until they get more polished.
For the first time since 2020, the Clemson football offense looked in control. The passes were on time and on point. The WRs made plays. And in the end that’s what won the day
On offense, what can I say?
DJ Uiagalelei put on a show and put up 2 big……fingers that may or may not be in the middle……to his haters everywhere. And I could not be more thrilled.
For the first time since 2020, the offense looked in control. The passes were on time and on point. The WRs made plays. The OL (for the most part) held up. Will Shipley played with (as expected) a ton of heart.
And in the end, that’s what won the day. It’s a shot in the arm this team needed – the boost of confidence everyone has been waiting for and something that this team can absolutely build off of.
I made mention on one of my videos with Morgan Thomas that he made fun of me last year at this time when I said that the 2021 team would win 10 games. In the same vein, I can say that this 2022 is a better team all around. Sure, it has flaws that it has to work on in order to meet its potential, but so have other teams over the last decade. I’m not willing to put a number on how many wins this team can get to, but if the Tigers could win 10 games last year…..how many can they win this year?
Either way, grab some hot now doughnuts, maybe even 2 dozen if you like, sit back, and enjoy.