CLEMSON – Just minutes after the scoreboard hit triple zeroes Saturday, the countdown clocks on the WestZone flat screen TVs had already reset, toward next week’s showdown with No. 5 Florida State.
The play in the first three quarters suggested that clock had reset mentally much earlier for the Tigers, but Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris is more than willing to admit they just didn’t perform.
“We’re going to get the best of everybody. Whoever we play we’re going to get their absolute best,” Morris said. “I don’t think these guys were looking ahead – I don’t think our offense was looking ahead. That’s an excuse.
“I just don’t think we executed well upfront. We got to get better and be more consistent.”
Nevertheless, it didn’t take long for the questions to take a Florida State angle – a little too early for the Tigers’ defensive coordinator.
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“I don’t know guys. I’m just going to kiss my wife here,” Brent Venables said. “We’re going to have our hands full. They have as good a collection a talent as we have in college football.”
By the fourth quarter, ESPN announced College GameDay was TigerTown bound for a second time in eight weeks, a first for the show, and besides both teams’ national ranking, the head-to-head QB battle is already well-hyped.
Both Tajh Boyd and FSU redshirt freshman Jameis Winston are Heisman contenders, as they sit 1-2 atop the ACC in total offense (Winston – 315.2 yards per game, 19 TDs; Boyd – 328.3 YPG, 20 TDs).
“He is going to be a ridiculous player,” Boyd said. “He just goes out and lays it all on the line and that’s what it’s all about.”
JUST HOW THEY DREW IT UP
With its highly successful rate versus the Tigers, the Eagles’ playaction rollout was starting to get predictable by the second half, and that put the onus on Clemson to actually stop it late.
Third-and-eight and down three in the fourth quarter, B.C. quarterback Chase Rettig rolled left – and junior Clemson linebacker Tony Steward was waiting on him.
“That particular call, we expected him to scramble weak and Tony (was) right there ready to scrape,” said Venables. “He did a great job and that was the play of the game.”
Steward grabbed both the sack and strip, and Clemson’s defensive playmaker all season, junior end Vic Beasley, was right there for the 13-yard return to the endzone and a crucial late two-score lead.
“When I saw the ball I thought, ‘Ah, yes!” Beasley said. “I was waiting for this moment my whole career – it was my turn, I guess.”
Clemson took the opening kickoff for a 16th-straight time Saturday (third-longest streak in the nation) – a situation that had been pretty successful for them this season.
The last two games, they hit big-play touchdowns to score in a combined 1:24 on the game clock, and on the season, they had scored the previous four games.
That wasn’t in the cards versus B.C., however, and instead, they didn’t score on their first six possessions, which was their longest streak since 2010 (N.C. State, eight).
Clemson’s consecutive quarter-scoring streak was stopped at 21, which stretched back to the third quarter of the Chick-fil-A Bowl.
Part of the rocky start was turnovers, and more specifically, fumbles. Going in, the Tigers were plus-nine in turnover margin with one offensive fumble, but by the 2:14 mark of the second quarter, the Tigers had already fumbled three times and lost the ball twice.
“That’s something we haven’t done,” Morris said. “To lay the ball on the ground twice and we actually had five (total) – lost two of them. That’s very uncharacteristic of us.
“From a coordinator standpoint, you try to look for opportunities when you can coach hard and make corrections. This is definitely one of those opportunities.”
Boston College running back Andre Williams wasn’t just racking up yards coming into Death Valley – he was destroying defenses.
Leading the nation at 153.6 yards a game, the senior posted 8.6 yards per carry in the two contests coming in, Army and Florida State.
Saturday, the holes weren’t there – and so went the opportunities to get out in space and break off long runs. He was held 2.9 yards per carry, with his 24 attempts totaling him under 100 yards for just the second time this season (70).
“We wanted to physically outmatch them,” said Venables. “Obviously that starts upfront, setting the edge. We had to point inside-out with a big, physical line. We couldn’t let him play behind his pads. He had a couple runs there and he’s a good player. Our guys brought hat time and time again and played with physical toughness.”
Rest assured, Boston College won’t be overlooked by the returning stars from Clemson and Florida State next season.
B.C., which finished 2-10 last season, held leads on the pair of top-6 teams for 54:34 on the clock in a three-week stretch. They were 24-point underdogs going into both games.
BOYD RECORDS SECTION
They come week-in, week-out, but Clemson’s signal-caller again moved up in the career records area.
With a 14th-career 300-yard passing game (second in ACC history now), he became Clemson’s all-time passing yard leader (9,836). In total yards, he moved into second place all-time past former Georgia Tech great Joe Hamilton (10,788).