Clemson Football lost to the Miami Hurricanes 28-20 on Saturday evening in Miami Gardens, Florida. It was the second time this season that the Tigers lost in double overtime, and the circumstances are eerily similar.
Both times Clemson had the ball first and their opponent matched their production in the first overtime. Both times the opponent scored a touchdown in the first possession of the second overtime. Both times Cade Klubnik could have handed the ball to Will Shipley in a short-yardage situation but elected to pull it and try something else, which ultimately failed.
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.
When things don’t go the way you want, and you want to be better, the first thing to do is identify what went wrong and how you can improve.
Improvement must start at the top of every organization, and it has to be accompanied by an attitude that every individual will do what they need to do to be better. I will have plenty to say this week about all the different elements of that for the Clemson Tigers, from Dabo Swinney, to the coordinators and position coaches, and to the players.
Though I am not a part of the team in the literal sense, I can take accountability for myself and do better too. I see so many fans who are upset with Dabo Swinney right now because they blame him for overhyping the team this season. They got excited because he was positive about his program.
I get that people put a lot more trust in Swinney than an amateur writer for FanSided (as they should), but just in case anyone was encouraged by my prediction that Clemson would win this game and cover: I got this game wrong. Time for a post-mortem.
I was not as down as many people were about the offense following the Wake Forest game. I had expectations that they would bounce back. While I have said that I think the inconsistency issues will continue to some extent throughout the 2023 season, I did state that I would rather have the turnover-prone offense of 2023 rather than the incompetent offense of 2021.
Well, last night Clemson decided to merge both. The turnover-prone personality took charge in the first half, and the incompetence took over in the fourth quarter, which also happened to be when the defense was gassed and couldn’t manage to stop the run.
Why did I get this wrong? For one, I didn’t give Miami enough credit. I didn’t think it mattered if an injured Tyler Van Dyke played or one of his healthy backups. I didn’t think the Canes could muster anything against this defense.
In fairness, I didn’t know Xavier Thomas would be out, nor did I realize that Justin Mascoll would leave the game and the Tigers would start lining up three tackles and one end. Some fans have been clamoring for that, but it sure failed miserably last night.
The biggest reason was that I felt Klubnik was on the right track. My perspective was that any young quarterback would be due for a stinker as he is growing. I thought that stinker was Wake Forest and it would snap him back to attention. I was wrong about Klubnik.
I’ve been giving Clemson Football to much credit
I thought this offensive line was straightening some things out. I felt they were still a work in progress, but was encouraged that they were changing up the lineup and giving younger but presumably more talented players an opportunity. Last night’s offensive line effort was a complete fail.
Lastly, I want to believe that Garrett Riley will figure this out, but I can’t base that on his body of work here in Clemson. I can’t make a solid argument that he is any better than his predecessor at this point. I wasn’t surprised things started slowly for an offense with a new coordinator, but this was game 7, and we should see improvement by now.
I have been buying into the premise Swinney has expressed, not because he is Swinney, but because I saw the same thing: the bones of the house were good, it just needed some reno work. Now I am realizing the work needed isn’t just some touch-ups.
In summary, I got the prediction for the Miami game wrong because:
- I underestimated the opponent
- I overestimated the positive progress of the biggest liabilities for the Clemson offense
- I jumped to the conclusion that Riley was an upgrade
My big picture opinions on things like the transfer portal and recruiting haven’t changed, but yeah, my thinking about where the ceiling is for some players and coaches is changing based on the body of work for 2023, and that Miami game is a big part of it. It isn’t just because it was the last game. Jason Magni’s tweet from last night sums this up well.
Jason is being sarcastic here, so don’t come at him. He is making a point, nothing more.
Nobody is right all the time, but I will do better. Hopefully, Coach Swinney, his staff, and his players are doing this same post-mortem.