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Clemson Still Clemson’s Worst Enemy

Clemson lost another one in Raleigh. After a 24-17 loss to NC State the Tigers have now lost two straight games for the first time since 2011. They now fall to 4-4 overall on the season and 2-4 in conference games. It was another game where the Tigers out-gained their opponents, but beat themselves. Clemson totaled 364 yards in the game to NC State’s 202 total yards. Turnovers would once again doom the Tigers though.

More Turnovers, More Problems

Clemson gave up two more turnovers in this game making it 15 turnovers on the season now. Both turnovers led to points for the Wolfpack as well. One of which was an interception that was returned for six by Payton Wilson. The Tigers also gave up a total of 14 points off turnovers in the game making it an overall of 64 points on the year so far. It has been Clemson’s biggest issue all season. This was another game where without the turnovers, they are likely looking at a much different result. It also does not help with how sporadic the offense has been for them.

Where’s The Offense

Even with gaining 364 total yards, the Tiger offense still struggled to get anything going consistently. It looked as if Clemson was not ready for the amount of pressure the Wolfpack was bringing on defense. That pressure is what helped to cause the turnovers to happen. Cade Klubnik struggled at many points in the game to find guys downfield. Most times he did not get much time to make things happen either. Klubnik finished the game completing 33 of his 50 pass attempts for 263 yards and two interceptions. Part of the offense’s problem though seems to be how reliant they are on Klubnik in his young career.

The run game has not always been as great as expected but it has worked. Both Will Shipley and Phil Mafah have shown they can be really effective in creating opportunities for the offense. Shipley did not see much action due to an injury he suffered in the first half. In the time he did see though he both ran and caught the ball for first downs to extend some Clemson drives. Mafah also did good work keeping drives alive with big first-down runs and even finished the day with 84 yards and the Tigers’ only two touchdowns.

With how much hype was around this running back duo coming into the season, it is puzzling why they are not relied upon much more. In the first quarter, Shipley and Mafah had only 5 carries combined. By the end of the game, the total was 22 rushes overall with Mafah getting 16 because of the Shipley injury. Even though Garrett Riley’s offense has been described as an “Air-Raid” offense, it still has shown a reliance on the run game to set things up in the past. With two guys as good as Shipley and Mafah in the backfield, running the ball should be a priority.

On to the Next

The last four-game stretch for the Tigers does not get easier. Up next they have 12th-ranked Notre Dame rolling into Death Valley. If Clemson wants a chance at winning any of the next four, they have to do something about the turnovers. Protecting the ball would help this team tremendously. When they don’t turn the ball over, they are still a team that can compete with the best in the country. Just look at the Florida State game. The problem for Clemson is, that the turnovers just seem to be part of their identity.

 

Photo Credit: Ken Ruinard-USA TODAY Sports

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