There is a reason why NC State lost to Clemson this past Saturday … it starts at the top.
From the moment he began his press conference following Clemson’s win over the Wolfpack, NC State head coach Dave Doeren was throwing out conspiracy theories rather than telling his fan base why his team lost the game.
The first question out of the gate was about the inconsistencies from the officiating crew. I’m not really sure why that question was asked in that way because the statistics and the tape prove there was no inconsistency, but needless to say that was the question. But Doeren did not really address the question.
He first said he wished it was a lot better, and then he immediately accused Clemson of cheating.
“I would like to know why there was a laptop on Clemson’s sideline that people were looking at, too,” Doeren said. “I would like that to be investigated. Maybe they were not doing anything, but I was told it is illegal to have technology on the sideline. So I would like to know that as well.”
Okay, I get it. He was mad. He saw the picture Clemson’s social media team had put up and after a game where his team played hard and had a chance to win, I can understand his frustration. However, a coach should never come into a press conference and insinuate the other team was cheating.
There is protocol for such measures, like taking the compliant to the ACC’s League Officials behind closed doors. If he would have done that he would have gotten his investigation and his answer, which by the way Clemson did nothing wrong.
As Clemson said after the game on Saturday the computer was being used by its social media team. The ACC looked into it and said Clemson did nothing wrong.
So Doeren made a big to-do about nothing and insulted the integrity of the Clemson coaching staff at the same time. Who does that?
I have not seen any other coach in the ACC act that way or accuse the other team of cheating to the press in his postgame press conference.
As for the officiating being inconsistent, I really don’t understand why that was even asked. Even after going back and watching the game, I thought it was called evenly. Were there a few head scratching calls and no calls, like there are in every game? Yes, but it was called both ways.
The statistics back that up. Only nine penalties were enforced the entire afternoon. Clemson had three for 3 for 23 yards, while NC State was called for 6 for 69 yards. By the way, tell me honestly if there was one of those six penalties they did not earn. Clemson earned all three of its penalties, too.
Granted there were some questionable no calls and NC State fans want to point to the flag that was picked up after quarterback Ryan Finley ran out of bounds to convert a fourth down on the last drive of the game, but the officials I thought made the right decision there because Clemson defensive back A.J. Terrell pulled himself back before barely hitting Finely.
The Wolfpack also point to the no call on a third-down pass to Jaylen Samuels a few plays later. Fans and the NC State coaching staff felt Clemson linebacker Dorian O’Daniel got to Samuels a little too early, but when going back and watching it, the officials got it right.
By the way, there were several no calls that went NC State’s way, too. Ask defensive tackle Christian Wilkins if he was not being held on NC State’s second offensive drive of the game as he had Samuels for a possible loss, but instead his arm was grabbed, and then his waste, as he was taken to the ground by right guard Tony Adams. Samuels ran right past him for 15 yards to the Clemson 15-yard line.
Also, ask Dexter Lawrence if he was not held a couple of times.
I know people want to complain about the illegal shift penalty which negated a first-and-goal opportunity for NC State to tie the game in the closing seconds, but it was a good call. As Finley was changing the call, wide receiver Stephen Louis stepped up just as the ball was being snapped. Samuel was also moving as he was trying to get Louis to step up.
The penalty negated Jakobi Meyers’ 24-yard catch to the Clemson 4-yard line, but it was the correct call.
By the way, Clemson’s penalties were just as costly, if not more. A pass interference penalty on Chad Smith was called on third down in the first quarter that set up Samuels’ one-yard touchdown. Also, how about the illegal chop block called on Clemson guard Tyrone Crowder, which negated a Travis Etienne 7-yard touchdown run?
As Swinney said afterward, they overcame that mistake and still found a way to score a touchdown.
I understand in the heat of the moment a coach losing his cool and we see coaches all the time, including Swinney, getting after the officials on the sideline. That is part of the game. That is normal. But a coach should never trash officials in a press conference, and a coach should never accuse a team of cheating.
The worst of all, Doeren never really explained why his team lost the game to his fan base. Instead, he added fuel to the fire after a group of fans had already thrown beer and spit on officials and Clemson players following the game.
In other words, Doeren needs to stop accusing people of cheating and worry more about why his team truly lost the game.
That is something you will not see Swinney and the Clemson football program do. Why? Because it starts at the top.