Clemson had trouble in the red-zone all game long against Maryland on Saturday, but in the end, a prolific offensive performance and the reliable toe of Chandler Cantazaro meant there was no price to pay.
Clemson notched its seventh victory of the season, 40-27 over the Terps at College Park, and as a result climbed two spots, to eighth, in both the USA Today Coaches' Poll and Harris Interactive Poll on Sunday.
Dabo Swinney, who tells his team that the fun in the winning, said there was plenty of fun to be had Saturday night by the Tigers, despite mistakes that prevented them from taking control of the game early.
Clemson led just 19-13 going into the fourth quarter, thanks to four chip-shot field goals by Catanzaro, before outscoring the Terps 21-7 to take command of the game.
"First of all, I want to say that I'm really proud of our team for going on the road and winning, and for the way they handled the past week," Swinney said during his Sunday evening teleconference. "They responded. We had a chance to take control of the game early, and that was disappointing. But I was really pleased with the way we competed and just kept playing."
Swinney said the defense repeatedly rose to the occasion after turnovers gave the Terps short-field opportunities, and, over the course of the game, the offense did its part.
"We had nine three-and-outs and we were really good in the red-zone defensively," Swinney said. "We were able to overcome our turnovers, which are usually a recipe for disaster, and force field goals.
"The other thing I was really pleased with was the way we ran the football. Hot Rod (McDowell) averaged 5.3 yards a carry and Zac (Brooks) 5.1. We had 551 yards on 98 plays. That's a good day at the office.
"We know we left a lot out there, but we did a lot of good things. Our offensive line played well, and I thought that collectively, Sammy Watkins, Adam Humphries and Martavis Bryant had their best game, both with and without the ball.
"We also had a couple of nice field position flips (on punts) by Bradley Pinion."
Clemson's red-zone inefficiency resulted from a string of unrelated problems.
"The first time we got down there, a player - not an offensive lineman - missed an assignment, and then we called a play and there was nothing there," Swinney said. "The next time, when we had first-and-goal at the two, we had a tackle for loss when we didn't pick up movement, and then on second down, our tight end missed a block. Third down was just a bad call against their defense.
"The third time, we had a touchdown to Sam Cooper, and their guy just got his hand on the ball. It was frustrating because we were moving the ball, with 10, 12, 13-play drives."
Despite the mistakes, Swinney said he was "very encouraged" when he watched film of the game on Sunday.
"Our defense played well, except for giving up the big play early and then at the end, when we sort of let our guard down," he said.
Asked about safety Travis Blanks' bad angle on Maryland's first-half touchdown strike, Swinney said, "Travis made a mistake, but it wasn't just Travis. Stephone (Anthony) was the other one. Both guys got caught staring at the quarterback instead of having their eyes where they should have been."
Swinney said that the Tigers' player of the game awards went to Watkins and McDowell on offense, Vic Beasley and Spencer Shuey on defense, and Catanzaro on special teams.
He said that while the training room will be busy this week treating various bumps and bruises, the Tigers sustained no injuries that should keep anyone out of the upcoming game against Virginia, including quarterback Tajh Boyd, who limped off the field at one point with a sore knee.
"Tajh bounced back and competing his tail off," Swinney said. "He's a little sore, but he'll be ready."