There are tons of reasons why No. 2 Clemson lost to Pittsburgh on Saturday in Death Valley.
First off, three turnovers, two in the red zone, and that will kill a team’s chances for winning almost every time. Secondly, the Tigers could not pick up one yard on third-and-fourth down to seal the victory with 58 seconds to play. And lastly, the defense could not cover the running backs or the tight ends.
And as difficult as it already is to win when Clemson does not execute on those plays, having referee Duane Heydt, a South Carolina graduate, call the game makes it a little more difficult than it already is.
Let’s just say Heydt’s track record for officiating Clemson games has not been too well this year.
Prior to the game on Saturday, The Clemson Insider learned from a source that the Clemson coaching staff was not thrilled about Heydt and his staff receiving the assignment for the Pittsburgh game.
Against Georgia Tech earlier this year, Heydt’s staff, with the exception of one new person in Death Valley on Saturday, officiated that game. Clemson was penalized 10 times for 80 yards, both season highs at the time.
Due to the way Clemson played that night in Atlanta, and how dominant they were, the fact that the Tigers got penalized that many times got lost in the shuffle. However, the Clemson coaches noticed and here is why.
In the five other Clemson league games in which Heydt’s grew was not calling a Clemson game, the Tigers were penalized 44 yards less per game. In the Georgia Tech game, Clemson was penalized 65 more yards than Georgia Tech and 61 more against Pitt on Saturday.
The average of the two games in which Heydt’s crew refereed Clemson games was 10 for 91 yards, while the opponents averaged just three for 28 yards.
Against Pitt, the Tigers (9-1, 6-1 ACC) were flagged nine times for 101 yards, while Pitt was called for just three penalties for 40 yards.
In the two Clemson games Heydt’s crew officiated this season, the Tigers were flagged 19 times for a combined 181 yards. Clemson’s opponents were flagged five times for 55 yards.
Without Heydt’s crew, Clemson has been penalized just 27 times in five ACC games for 236 yards, while the opposition has 53 called penalties for 442 yards.
In ACC games in which Heydt’s crew was not officiating, the Tigers have been flagged for an average of five penalties for 47 yards a game, while the opponents have been penalized 11 times for 88 yards.
An interesting statistic from the Pitt game. In the Panthers’ final four touchdown drives, Clemson was called for either holding or pass interference on all four drives after Clemson made critical stops on third down. Two of those plays were on third-and-10, one third-and-eight and one third-and-seven.