By Will Vandervort.
By Will Vandervort
Eight times in Clemson’s 40-27 victory over Maryland Saturday, the Tigers at least reached the Terrapins’ 20-yard line. Seven of those eight times Clemson, who moved up to No. 8 Sunday in the latest USA Today/Coaches Top 25 Poll, came away with points.
Good numbers, right? Not really. When looking into those numbers the Tigers had to settle for four Chandler Catanzaro field goals, which allowed Maryland to hang around a little closer than head coach Dabo Swinney liked.
Clemson (7-1, 5-1 ACC) eventually pulled away as quarterback Tajh Boyd and running back Roderick McDowell scored touchdowns on the Tigers’ last two red zone possessions to put the game out of reach, sending them home with their seventh consecutive win away from Death Valley.
“It was kind of frustrating in a couple of situations, especially with the type of drives—10-play drive, 15-play drive, 13-play drive—and then we get back down there and then don’t hit a touchdown,” Swinney said Sunday during his weekly teleconference with the media. “Then we have a 13-play drive and we have Adam (Humphries) wide open and I think we over coached it probably and tried to force the ball in there to Sammy (Watkins) instead of letting the play develop.
“Then we come back down there and we are able to run it in there. It is just a couple of situations where we had a missed assignment or did not have a good call against their defense and their guys just made a play. Those are things we can definitely improve upon.”
The Tigers got better once they decided Boyd’s running ability had to become part of the red zone offense, again. Offensive coordinator Chad Morris said part of the game plan against Maryland was not to run Boyd due to his bump ankle and then his sore knee which he injured early in the second quarter. It was obvious the Terrapins knew Clemson would not use its quarterback in the red zone as they loaded up the box and came after its running backs.
Swinney said Boyd was a little sore on Sunday and did receive treatment on his knee—the same knee he had surgery on to repair his torn ACL when he was a senior in high school. It’s obvious after the troubles Clemson had when it tried to run the football in the red zone without Boyd as opposed to with it, the Tigers are going to need No. 10 to be as healthy as he can be as they hit the backside of the schedule.
“We had 551 yards of offense and we ran the ball the best we have run it all year,” Swinney said. “I was really encouraged when I watched the film today. I was frustrated last night because you are on the road and you punch of couple of those field goals into touchdowns and you get a hold of that game quickly, but we did not do that.”
So now the Tigers just want to get it corrected.