The Clemson Tigers had the perfect play called.
After running the ball with effectiveness, the Tigers motioned running back Will Shipley to the slot, giving the Tigers a five-wide look. Shipley got the matchup he wanted, as the speedster was matched up on a linebacker. He blew past the backer and found himself wide open down the seem and only needed quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei to get him the ball and he would walk into the end zone and give the Tigers a 14-0 lead on Pittsburgh.
Uiagalelei hit Shipley in stride. Shipley dropped the ball. And to those watching the game, it appeared that was the moment. That was the, "Oh well. Here we go again" moment.
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However, to offensive coordinator Tony Elliott, that was not the moment when things went wrong.
"No, I didn’t necessarily see it that way. I think you have that with a combination of when Bock went out, there was a couple of plays there where we weren’t in sync," Elliott said. "I know there was one I addressed at halftime with just a basic protection that we showed them all week that we needed to pick up, but we didn’t pick up. That gets us off of rhythm because the play would’ve been there. So I wouldn’t say it was Shipley’s drop, I think it’s a combination of things. Our guys were in good spirits at halftime, understanding that we should be in a different situation but we’re still in this ball game. We get the ball back, but then we don’t come out and put together a good drive. So I wouldn’t put it on one play, it’s a combination of things."
Even if Elliott does not believe that the Tigers were affected by that one play, one thing is certain: the Tigers do not have any confidence. And even though that one play did not signal that it was going to be a long day for the offense, it didn't help a team that is fragile right now and in need of doing the little things, making the easy plays, to help them get back on track.
"Right now, offensively, we’re struggling with confidence because of the continuity and the drops, and guys just not making the plays that are going to ignite that," Elliott said. "You can look at particular plays and potentially point to and say that deflated our offense. Then there are plays where you make the play like Ross makes a big play on the touchdown drive that ignites the offense. But then just not getting enough of those plays to ignite the offense. And we’re not making the layups. That’s the frustrating thing. We’re not making the layups, and therefore we’re not able to generate enough of the explosive plays either."
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