Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney admitted following Clemson’s loss to Syracuse on Friday that his team didn’t come ready to play. While that certainly appeared to be the case in general, it can’t be said for Hunter Renfrow.
The junior receiver recorded five receptions for a team-high 64 yards and hauled in everything that came his way. He made a couple of outstanding grabs in the second half and even recovered a fumble in the first quarter.
However, in the grand scheme of things, Renfrow’s effort was merely one of the few bright spots on an offense that never really found a rhythm. Meanwhile, the defense couldn’t get enough stops, and special teams also let the Tigers down in their 27-24 defeat.
“We just didn’t get it done,” Renfrow said. “I thought Syracuse played really well. Great atmosphere. I felt the atmosphere was unbelievable, one of the best we’ve played in. But they earned it, and we just didn’t come to play. So we’re going to regroup and go into the bye week.”
Clemson’s offense finished with only 16 first downs and 317 yards, including just 113 on the ground. The Tigers were just 2-of-11 on third down and allowed four sacks.
Of course, it didn’t help matters that starting quarterback Kelly Bryant played with a gimpy ankle and left the game for good late in the first half after being slammed to the ground and sustaining a concussion.
“I saw him on the play. He was knocked out pretty cold,” Renfrow said. “I went to go help him up, and he looked like he was snoring.”
Zerrick Cooper replaced Bryant and completed 10 of his 14 passes for 88 yards.
The redshirt freshman did what was asked of him and did not turn the ball over, but did miss on two third-down throws to an open Renfrow that would have gone for big gains and could have changed the outcome.
“He was just a little jittery maybe,” Renfrow said. “But I thought Zerrick did a great job coming out in the second half. The thing with Zerrick is he’s not going to go play passive. He’s going to go play aggressive, and I think that was good for him to go get those reps in a game tonight and in a live situation. I think it will help us down the line.”
At the end of the day, multiple parties were at fault for Clemson’s poor performance, and Renfrow feels the loss serves as a lesson for the Tigers.
“It’s funny how life works,” he said. “It’s funny how God uses things to kind of teach you lessons, and I think that he’s definitely teaching us a lesson.”
Though the loss marked just Clemson’s third in the last 40 games, this isn’t exactly unfamiliar territory for the Tigers.
Clemson, of course, fell to Pittsburgh last season before going on to win its first national title in 35 years. Clemson had won 11 straight games since that loss prior to Friday.
Renfrow hopes to see history repeat itself and see the Tigers respond in similar fashion moving forward.
“Maybe it helped us,” Renfrow said of Friday’s game. “I think it definitely helped last year, but I think this is also a new team, and we have to respond the right way for this team.”