The Downside - Clemson | Syracusefan.com

The Downside - Clemson

SWC75

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Some highlights from today’s game:


and

Spencer Tracy Fight with Sharks - The Old Man And The Sea (1958)

(The refs had fins in this game.)


- “We went down to Clemson and threw a scare into those Tigers. We proved we could compete with them.” Phooey. Been there, don’t that we weren’t looking for a replay of the 2018 but that’s what we got.

- “Remember, our goal at the beginning of the season was to win 6 games and get to a bowl. We’ve already done that.” Goals change as the situation changes. We had a chance to win this conference and maybe even go to the playoff. That’s gone and we probably lost GameDay for a second time along with it. Phooey!

- In a close game, everything matters. But what matter the most today is that we got out-gained 291-449. Even when we took that 21-7 lead, we’d been out-gained at that point 170-208. From that point until we began that final drive, it was 76-243 while the Tigers scored 20 straight. They won the battle up front and that’s why they win this conference virtually every year and we are an also-ran. In the 2018 game were outgained 311-469. It’s hard to overcome a gap like that. We were ahead 16-7 at the half and lost 23-27. This time we were ahead 21-7 late in the second quarter and lost 21-27.

- This is far from the first game over the years where the SU offense couldn’t get the job done, the defense performed valiantly but tired at the end and the game slipped away. I can remember games like that from the Frank Maloney Era. It’s still happening. All those injuries we’ve sustained on defense came home to roost. Stefon Thompson, Terry Lockett, Denis Jaquez, Garrett Williams, Derek McDonald, Anwar Sparrow, Eric Coley, Kevon Darton, Marlowe Wax, Duce Chestnut – they are all out or playing hurt. They and their colleagues deserve enormous respect but Dabo Swinney knew that if his team kept pounding away, they could take over the game and they did.

- It’s hard to get 5 turnovers to one for the other team and lose, but we managed it. One of our turnovers resulted in a 90 yard fumble return that helped get us that 21-7 – and create the illusion that we were dominating the game. Another prevented a two point conversion. The other three resulted in SU punts and those lost opportunities prevented us from taking a truly commanding lead. Our one turnover shut down our promising last possession and ended the game.

- That turnover looked much like the other interceptions Shrader has thrown this year: a sort of afterthought: throw it into coverage and hope our guy gets it. Fort he most part, he’s avoided turnovers but the ones he’s had have been big. Here is was shame: we were set up to pull this one out of the fire despite everything else, much as Garret and Gadsden did against Purdue or Garrett and Damien Alford did at Virginia Tech last year. Instead, it was suddenly over.

- “The referees didn’t cost us this game.” All I know is that if the two ‘late hit’ calls were reversed, as they should have been, that might have been enough for us to win. On the first, Klubnik, as Adam Terry pointed out from the radio booth, had turned upfield to run and extend the play when he was shoved out of bounds. The effort continued out of bounds by a step but the contact began on the field of play. Clemson was going to have to punt but they wound up scoring on that drive. On the second, we were trying to come back after they’d taken the lead. Shrader was grabbed and ridden out of bounds and the tackle, after contact ended, gave him an extra shove into the SU bench. No call. We punted and they chewed up another 2:23 and kicked the field goal that forced us to go for a touchdown at the end. There was also a false start call that, on the replay, we looked like 11 statues. It had been 3rd and 1. We wound up punting and Shipley went to the downs after we punted. Then there was the PI call on 3rd an 11 where Isaiah Johnson tipped the ball away with his left had but got called because of contract made with his right hand after he’d tipped it. First half penalties: 2-4. Second half: 8-2. Maybe it’s too paranoid but we could be forgiven for thinking the refs weren’t going to let the Tigers lose.

- Discussion of our offensive line problems often center around Carlos Vettorello, our center. In this game he was guilty of some high snaps, including one right after Jason Simmons and picked off DJ and we had the ball at the 50 with 5:50 left in the third and a 21-10 lead. Shrader had to reach backwards to pull the ball in and was sacked for a loss. We wound up punting and the Tigers sent in Klubnik to begin their comeback.

- Simmons was almost the big hero when he jumped a late route with SU still down three but just knocked the ball down instead of catching it – with nothing but green in front of him.

- There are complaints about Sean Tucker not getting the ball more, (5c/54y/0td and 5r/18y/1TD). He was an effective decoy on a lot of plays but is that all we want from him? Clemson didn’t use Will Shipley as a decoy. What will it take to keep the defense honest? And is Tucker simply not up to getting a lot of touches because of being banged up?

- What was that strange sequence at the end of our opening possession? Andre Szmyt kicks what appears from the angle ABC showed to be a good field goal, but it was actually short. Matt Park described it as “an 8 iron”. But Dino Babers had called a time-out. During it, he decided not to give Andre, who has been excellent, a second chance so we went for it on fourth down and didn’t make it. A field goal there would have put us just a field goal away at the end, a huge difference.

- One difference from 2022 and 2018: This Clemson team isn’t nearly as good as that one was. The same might be true of this Syracuse team.

- For all sad words of tongue and pen, the saddest are these, “It might have been.” – John Greenleaf Whittier
 
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