CLEMSON — The initial and immediate reaction to Clemson’s 31-16 win over Louisville is below.
– Clemson was three yards away from having two 100-yard rushers tonight.
Phil Mafah: 10 rushes for 106 yards (10.6 yards per carry), 1 touchdown
Will Shipley: 19 carries for 97 yards (5.1 yards per carry), 1 touchdown
It’s fine if you want to discuss Mafah on Shipley, especially given the emergence of Mafah and the escaped Shipley bug… but I think they complement each other so well and what matters most is that you focus on feeding whoever is in the game. Exhibit A: Shipley’s spectacular 25-yard touchdown run where he ran past a defender, then kept his balance to split defenders and reach the end zone , coupled with Mafah’s 13-yard run in the fourth quarter where he moved the stack of defenders on Louisville’s entrance.
Shipley grounded the ball twice and lost two. Not acceptable, especially with how much emphasis Clemson has placed on ball safety over the past three weeks.
Louisville, which averaged 7.44 tackles per loss today, had eight on Clemson. Whether it’s communication, technique or ability, the interior offensive line is susceptible to being blown at times.
Shipley and Mafah rushed it 13 times in the first half for 72 yards. After two quarters, Shipley is averaging 5.6 yards per carry and Mafah is averaging 5.4. Even accounting for the quarterback run, one could argue that Clemson should have run the ball more and passed less in the first half, especially given the high volume of plays (42) that were made.
–Speaking of quarterback running, on Clemson’s first practice DJ Uiagalelei rushed for 25 yards multiple times, including an 11-yard touchdown run. Leading 10-7 in the second quarter, Uiagalelei picked up five on the ground on first down, then recovered the first losing tackles on third down.
No need to complicate it. That’s part of why I couldn’t understand why Uiagalelei didn’t have a role on the pitch against Notre Dame, especially early on. Feel the touch, immerse yourself in the flow of the game, gain confidence, settle in.
As a passer, Uiagalelei was 19 of 27 (70%) for 185 yards and a touchdown. With his starting job in jeopardy, he didn’t look as nervous or hesitant as on his recent outings, an encouraging sign for Clemson going forward. At first, the plan was to get the ball out quickly to soften Louisville’s pass. It was effective at times. Louisville led the nation with 3.68 sacks per game and had two tonight.
Clemson was 4 of 13 on third down.
After Shipley’s touchdown run with 10:32 left in the third quarter, Clemson’s next five possessions resulted in three punts and two fumbles.
Clemson’s offense lacks a fleeting burst, overall softness and doesn’t always do the simple things well, but that’s not something new we learned today.
– Malik Cunningham injured his non-throwing hand last week and it affected him as a runner in the first half and he didn’t play in the second half. I’m sure a full-strength Cunningham would have given Clemson’s run defense more problems. Alas…
Louisville ran the ball on 13 of 27 plays in the first half, and outside of Jawhar Jordan’s 44 yards and Cunningham’s 26 yards on the final play of the half, there were just 15 yards on the ground. Obviously, the 44-yard lead counts. Looked like Jeremiah Totter was out of position before Jalyn Phillips was beaten.
Plays later, it looked like Trotter didn’t show enough effort, physicality, or awareness on Tiyon Evans’ 16-yard touchdown run.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that Trotter had a great time tonight as well.
With Trenton Simpson (undisclosed) unavailable today, we saw a healthy dose of Wade Woodaz, who had only played one snap in defense in the last three games. Barrett Carter replaced WILL when Woodaz was in the match. RJ Mickens also received a slight boost in snaps.
I think Woodaz played well and that’s an encouraging sign for the years to come. Any matches (this season) to come?
Clemson produced nine tackles for the loss and Carter had 3.5. Carter in the box means more opportunities for Carter to be around the ball, which doesn’t sound like a negative.
— Various observations below.
Despite the third-quarter fumble as he battled for first down, Williams had 10 catches for 83 yards and a touchdown as Clemson’s leading passer tonight by more than 50 yards.
Midway through the first quarter, Clemson was leading 7-0 and facing 3rd and 3rd. Uiagalelei threw it behind Joe Ngata on the oblique, but Ngata should have caught that ball. After a bad game last week, you would have liked to see Ngata locked up earlier. He plays nonchalance too often. He had two catches for 30 yards.
Clemson moves the ball into positive territory and a swing pass to Williams immediately loses four. Perimeter blocking isn’t where it needs to be and you might question that play call as well. Two plays later Uiagalelei is under pressure and loses the ball and fumbles. Poor/sloppy ball safety by quarterback.
Sherrod Covil received snaps in the second quarter.
Nate Wiggins was beaten by Louisville’s top wide receiver, Tyler Hudson, for a 54-yard reception in the third quarter. He continues to leave something to be desired in the tackling department. Hudson had 163 yards on 11 receptions. Backup quarterback Brock Domann passed for 175 yards in one half and can’t imagine Swinney will be happy with how the game ended on a 31-yard touchdown pass to Louisville.
Sheridan Jones may not scare teams away from throwing his management, but I think he’s underrated.
Justin Mascoll got the start on Myles Murphy, which likely indicates how Murphy played against Notre Dame. It’s not the first time this has happened this season. After Trotter’s forced fumble in the third quarter, Swinney rushed to the field to tear Mascoll for something. I do not know what. But the head coach absolutely enlightened Mascoll.
– The last time Clemson lost consecutive games in a single season will be 2011. The 150 games since the consecutive loss is the longest active streak in the nation. For all that we can criticize for Clemson right now, it’s worth thinking about. Pretty amazing.
orange panties, to win the division. The Tigers accomplished that tonight and will likely travel to Charlotte on Dec. 3 with just one blemish unless a total meltdown occurs against Miami or South Carolina. But tonight was the toughest test, even without Cunningham.
Swinney used the phrase “back to work” times in double digits this week following the game against Notre Dame. A lot of work was needed, but tonight was a rebounding performance and a step in the right direction in some ways. But more of the same in others.