The Clemson Tigers have had their fair share of issues on offense in 2021. Maybe the biggest of these would be dropped passes by the normally sure-handed wide receivers.
Head coach Dabo Swinney has put in extra time with his former position group, but even that has not helped the issues. When asked about the dropped balls, offensive coordinator Tony Elliott stated the frustration is not with the dropped balls as much as the fact it is not occurring in practice.
"We just got to go back to work every day and point out if there are any glaring fundamental issues. We got to coach them hard and challenge them to build their confidence," Elliott said. "And that’s the most frustrating part. The guys are putting together good weeks of practice and something is just getting lost in transition to the game. We got to own it. Everyone has got to look themselves in the mirror, myself included, coaches included… everybody… support staff. We need to see what we can do better."
The Tigers have another issue according to Elliott.
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"That’s a sign of youth because obviously, the older guys understand what it takes, they’ve been through their trials and had to go through their learning curve," Elliott said. "We just got some guys that are in the middle of their learning curve and unfortunately, it’s showing up on Saturday when we least want it and just causing a bunch of issues."
For those people wanting Elliott to be fired or the coaching staff to be completely overhauled, there is no one who wants these players to succeed more than the coaches.
"Trust me, I wish I knew (how to fix the problem) because if I could my finger on it, I would put all ten of my fingers on it to stop it," Elliott said. "I don’t want to make it seem these young men aren’t working. They’re workin' their tails off, they’re putting in the work. We just have a disconnect because we see these guys make plays in practice. Ross has been awesome in practice. Just when we get to the game, some things move fast.
"I think the biggest thing is that guys are looking for someone else to be that guy, where they need to say, 'I’m going to be the guy to make that play.' So they have to have that confidence level walking onto the field. Some of it is youth and inexperience. Catching the ball is just repetitions. Repetitions, repetitions, repetitions is what creates the confidence to go out there and play fast. You know guys are moving around especially at the wide receiver spot.
"You look at Ajou Ajou playing a couple of different positions in the last couple of weeks. Beaux Collins is having to cross-train at all three positions and be ready to go. And sometimes things get jumbled up in your head. If your mind is not clear and you’re thinking about what you’re doing and thinking about catching the ball, you’re going to have problems catching the ball. You have to be what we say 'unconscious' when you’re catching the ball. That goes with experience and being able to process everything before the snap so you’re not thinking post-snap. And then we can’t worry about making mistakes. I think guys are now, because of the struggles we’re having, guys are afraid to make mistakes. We need to find a way to free them up. You know just say, 'Don’t worry about making mistakes, just play free.” I think if they just let it go and play free, they’re going to play with a lot more confidence."