Tony Elliott has had so much success in his career that it's hard to draw on past experiences to get him and the Clemson offense through their latest troubles.
Following a lackluster 14-8 performance against Georgia Tech last Saturday, the No. 9 Tigers once again couldn't overcome penalties, turnovers, odd playcalling and complete offensive inefficiencies at NC State.
This time, it cost them a game, and maybe the season. Clemson totaled just 214 yards and came up short on third and fourth down when needing five yards to keep a drive alive in a 27-21 double-overtime loss at Carter-Finley Stadium on Saturday.
"I think the guys are giving effort," Elliott, the Tigers' offensive coordinator during their run of six consecutive College Football Playoff appearances, said after the game. "The first part of our formula is to give effort with technique so we need to evaluate the technique. Some of it is going to be experience. Things happen fast so I'm looking at everything. Same thing with myself. It's evaluating to see what I can do better to help these young men be successful."
That wasn't the case against the Wolfpack, who broke through with enough offense to keep Clemson off balance all game. The Tigers ran just 40 plays in regulation.
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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.
"The defense ended up being on the field for too many plays," Elliott said.
He and the offense were unable to help them. Clemson had just 10 first downs and allowed 31.
"I don't recall a situation like this," Elliott said. "You learn from it. We'll be able to address and figure out what the issues were and go to work on the issues and correct them for the future."
Elliott said he wished the offense had capitalized better on early-game opportunities. The Tigers scored on a fantastic drive in the first quarter on great throws from quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei. Then they had a flawless fourth-quarter scoring possession. Outside of that, nothing went right in regulation for an offense that scored once more in overtime.
What's next for this struggling offense?
"I think it's just reminding them, the coaches and everybody in the program...that the only people who are going to get us out of this situation is us," Elliott said. "It's going to take us believing and unifying and coming together, not letting the outside world divide us. We know it's going to come. We haven't done our best on the field. When you are in this arena, you subject yourself to criticism so you know that's coming."
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