For just the third time in the spread era and just the fifth time since 1948, Clemson’s wide receivers averaged less than 11 yards per catch in 2021.
The Clemson Tigers are struggling in a way that no one could have imagined at the start of the 2021 season. It is not only the offense that has struggled, but apparently, the entire team has struggled–with the distractions of the media and fans that have been calling out their poor performance.
“There will be a bunch that jumped off the bandwagon, but I wouldn’t say they were ‘All In’ anyway,” Swinney said following the Tigers' loss at NC State. “The type of winning we’ve had for a long time, everybody likes a winner. There will be some that will certainly judge us in this moment and again that’s just a product of all the success we’ve had here for a long, long time.
“We all understand that we’re not playing anywhere near our capabilities or to the standard that we have set here. Nobody accepts that. We also have the right perspective. We know where we are. We know what we got to do. We know where we’re going. Again, you got to take the good with the bad.”
Tuesday Swinney admitted that these distractions have taken a toll on the Tigers.
"I think some of it is human nature, especially in today's world," Swinney said. "When I was coming up someone wrote a bad article and you hoped that your grandmother didn't read it. Now, everyone has a forum. That's all they get now ... hearing how bad they are and how bad their coaches stink. As a young person, you have to learn how to block that stuff out. If you don't, you don't play free and you get bogged down.
"This group offensively is burdened by disappointment, expectations and outside noise."
Offensive coordinator Tony Elliott said the same during his meeting with the media Monday, "It's a different year for everybody in college football. Some of the outside distractions that have come in. Not using that as an excuse, but I think young people are dealing with a lot more now than they have in the past and trying to balance that."
When he was struggling to find his shot and was not very productive coming off the bench, it would have been easy for Brad Brownell to keep Chase Hunter right there, on the bench.
All Clemson's recruiting roundup from the weekend as the Tigers hosted four recruits on official visits.
However the one way to cure the ails caused by the "outside noise" is to play better–not necessarily perfect, just better.
The frustration from the fans, and the criticism from the media, is more about the Tigers taking two steps forward and then three back on a seemingly game-by-game basis.
Doing the little things right, playing a clean game, for example, would go a long way toward helping to ease some of the outside noise because apparently, the Tigers can do it in practice.
"The good news is the guys are continuing to play hard and they haven't splintered," Elliott said. "They're aware of the issues and they understand what needs to be corrected. We have to find a way to transfer what we're doing in practice to the game, that's probably the biggest challenge that we have. The last several weeks of practice, by the end of practice on Thursday to game day on Saturday, there's a little bit of disconnect. We'll have all 11 for about two or three plays, then have one guy make a critical mistake that sets the drive back."
The Tigers will attempt to put the outside noise behind them this week, as they take on the Pittsburgh Panthers (3:30 p.m., ESPN). The Panthers have surged into the national championship discussion, currently hold +8000 odds to win the title according to FanDuel.
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