Clemson didn’t play like an unranked team for most of the game against No. 4 Florida State and should’ve kept its seven-game winning streak intact against the ACC rival. The Tiger defense held Jordan Travis to more punts (four) than points (three) in the second half, and if not for a scoop, and score, and a missed chipshot field goal, the game would’ve ended harmlessly.
Instead, the Seminoles stole a win in OT, 31-24, and Dabo Swinney’s team is 2-2, 0-2 in conference. There’s been an abundance of criticism lobbed at the coach for his apprehension to embrace the transfer portal, and even though not many programs keep two kickers on scholarship, fans are going to question why there wasn’t a better second option than a “guy off the street.”
Jonathan Weitz, the team’s backup for the past four seasons, got a phone call after starter Robert Gunn struggled so far this year, and delayed his move to New York for a job in finance to return to the field.
And you can probably guess how it turned out.
In what would’ve been a feel-good ending to the story, the grad student who’s a student by online enrollment only, pulled a 29-yard attempt wide with 1:45 left in regulation, and the contest went to OT. Travis linked up with Keon Coleman on the second play of the extra period for a TD, and Clemson responded by going backward on a third-and-one and failing to stay alive on fourth-and-two.
Sophomore quarterback Cade Klubnick played well, but that was vintage Clemsoning, and fans at Death Valley definitely had a little PTSD leaving Memorial Stadium. The mistakes — a missed protection that led to Florida State’s defensive score, and Klubnick’s hot read on the debaucherous third down in overtime — weren’t just on the kicker as Swinney coached scared, as well.
The crowd booed after Clemson opted to punt on multiple fourth-and-shorts in the first half, and poor execution at the end of the game kept the Tigers from a chance for a heave after crossing the 50 on a first-down run, and failing to spike the ball after the momentary clock stoppage.
All of the things I just listed are now going to be mentioned in rants about Swinney slowly going the way of evolution. At one point, the broadcast rolled a graphic comparing the two school’s transfer numbers, and it was 17-0, ‘Noles.
That’s beyond hesitation, and veers into negligence. Mike Norvell has Florida State fans dreaming big because it doesn’t take years to overhaul a roster and build winners.
However, for Clemson, it doesn’t have to be this difficult. Premier programs don’t need to go transfer wild but rather use the portal opportunistically to bolster deficiencies and depth. Older players also add maturity through experience and taper the learning curve of a roster.
The turnover is a lot, and causes added player politics, yet coaches have to evolve with the game. Mike Krzyzewski railed against one-and-dones until he realized Duke was only going to contend once every four years without it.
That doesn’t fly for fans with lofty expectations, and one to two seasons out of the spotlight in college football can be enough to drop a program’s status a discernible amount. And, well, people are noticing, Clemson.
Original source here
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