There was a different feeling in Death Valley as No. 2 Clemson suffered its first loss of the season, 43-42, to unranked Pittsburgh Saturday in Memorial Stadium.
Allowing only five touchdown passes all season entering Saturday’s game, defensive end Clelin Ferrell was disappointed in the defense’s inability to execute when it needed to the most.
“Hats off to Pittsburgh. We made a bunch of mistakes tonight and didn’t capitalize on them. They are good team and they made few mistakes,” the defensive end said.
The Tigers’ defense, which has been mostly dominate throughout the season, yielded 464 total yards of offense and a season high 43 points. Of those 464 yards given up, 308 came through the air as Pitt’s Nathan Peterman completed 23-of-37 passes, including a career-high five touchdown passes.
“We had a good game plan for them. I wouldn’t say they did anything that made them so tough to stop. We knew they were a team that was going to fight and we just had to play our best and we didn’t tonight. We thought we had a good game plan. We just did not execute like we should have,” Ferrell said.
The Tigers (9-1, 6-1 ACC) came into the game leading the ACC in sacks with 33, but Clemson’s defensive line struggled to get to Peterman. They finished the game with two.
“Coming in here they didn’t give up a lot of sacks. Their offensive line is decent. We have to give them credit,” Ferrell said. “I think they ran for a good amount of yards. I feel like the front seven should have played a little better. The shovel pass really killed us tonight.”
Pitt finished with 156 yards and averaged 4.7 yards per carry. Running back James Conner rushed for a game-high 132 yards on 20 carries and scored a touchdown.
The Clemson defense gave up a lot of big plays, too, including one in the fourth quarter that allowed Pitt to set up the game-winning field goal.
With 58 seconds to play in the game, and the Tigers up 42-40, Pitt moved the ball to the Clemson 30-yard line, which allowed kicker Chris Blewitt to kick the game-winner from 48 yards out with six seconds to play.
“I think we are going to bounce back from the mistakes we made tonight. They are very correctable. It is just stuff we have to focus on in practice next week,” Ferrell said.
“We knew they were going to do a bunch of motions and stuff tonight. We knew there would be a lot of shifting and different formations. Something really different. We just didn’t capitalize off of certain things,” Ferrell continued. “They made some competitive plays where it was 50/50 ball and stuff like that and we had too many penalties and we just went blank.”
Moving forward Ferrell says there is a lot things the Tigers can take from their loss Saturday night.
“Short-term memory loss, prosperity is a very bad teacher, and we are going to see how we handle adversity with the media and all the people,” he said. “Everything that we want to do is still in front of us.
“It was definitely a wake up call. We have not felt like this in a long time. It’s just a big wake up call for us. I would say just knowing that you have to respect the game, we didn’t respect the game as much as we should have tonight.”
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