In Clemson’s first home game of the 2016 football season, the No. 2 Tigers defeated Troy 30-24 to advance to a 2-0 on the year.
Here is what we heard after the game:
Head coach Dabo Swinney was far from impressed with the performance of his offense on Saturday. Despite racking up 414 total yards and 30 points, the offense made uncharacteristic mistakes to make it so the Tigers only had a three-point lead heading into the fourth quarter.
“We could not have played worse on offense,” Swinney said following the game. “Troy played good enough to beat us and we played bad enough to lose.”
The receiving corps totaled seven dropped passes from even some of the veteran leaders.
“There are times when we have really nice throws and then we have drops. Then we had times when guys were open and we just could not connect,” co offensive coordinator Jeff Scott said. “Our offense is built off those explosive plays and when you are not hitting them then you can’t get in a rhythm.”
Co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott agreed that Clemson’s offense could not get into a working rhythm, and that is something that needs to change in the future.
“Today’s performance is definitely unacceptable. It is not up to our standard, but I challenged them with the opportunity to get better and that is how we are going to look at it,” Elliott said. “We are going to enjoy the win because it is hard to win, but when we come back tomorrow as coaches, and when the players come back on Monday, we will be focused on getting better.”
One of the worst drops came from a no-contact situation after Ray-Ray McCloud returned a punt 75 yards for what appeared to be a touchdown. However, it was taken off the board because he dropped the ball just short of the goal line.
“I was shocked. I never did that before. It happened so fast, but it happened for a reason, and I know it won’t happen again,” McCloud said. “I feel like the coaches have confidence in me. It was a mistake. It happens to the best players, and I came back out, put it behind me and kept playing football.”
To McCloud’s credit, he came back and was the leading receiver with seven receptions for 86 yards.
“He did some really good things out there. It’s not a surprise because he did well for us in fall camp and made some big strides, so hopefully he’ll learn from that mistake and be better next week,” Scott said.
Quarterback Deshaun Watson completed 27-of-53 passes for 292 yards and three touchdowns, but he also threw two picks and the offensive line gave up a sack.
“Everybody, especially you guys in the media, wants to see us score fifty and sixty points and everybody wants it now. We are not going to do that. We have to put in the work and we have to execute and we have to find our rhythm,” Watson said. “It is a long season. We have ten more ball games and ten more weeks to improve. That’s what good teams do. They improve on the little things.”
On the other side of the ball, defensive coordinator Brent Venables said that he was glad the defense had the opportunity to rotate in some younger guys and take meaningful snaps early on in the game.
“We started the game right with a three and out and we got off the field rather quickly. The same thing in the second half, the first possession, we did that two weeks in a row. That comes from a group of guys who are focused and intense and prepared, and they are serious,” Venables said. “We played a ton of guys early, and I really feel like that is going to pay off for us.”