You hear it all the time from coaches no matter what the level or the sport.
“You are only as good as your last game,” they like to say.
In Clemson’s last game, it was not good at all. The Tigers were embarrassed by Alabama, especially on the offensive side, in the Sugar Bowl as part of the College Football Playoff Semifinals.
Clemson managed just 188 yards against the Crimson Tide, including just 2.7 yards per play. It could not block Alabama up front as the Crimson Tide lived in the Clemson backfield.
Quarterback Kelly Bryant had his worst game of the season. He was intercepted twice, one set up a score and the other was returned for a touchdown. Bryant had a rating of 67.8 overall and completed just 18 of 36 passes for 124 yards.
The running game was even worse. The Tigers rushed for a season low 64 yards on 33 carries. It was an eye opener for the offense.
“Guys are taking ownership of areas where we want to improve,” Clemson co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott said.
In the spring, the offense concentrated on getting better in the areas that Alabama exposed in the Sugar Bowl. Of course the downfield passing game was one area, which was an issue all year long for the Tigers, while the tempo was another.
Elliott saw improvement in both areas throughout the course of the spring. In the final big scrimmage of the spring and in the Orange & White Game, the Tigers demonstrated their ability to get the ball down field with long passes to receivers Amari Rodgers, Tee Higgins and Diondre Overton.
The coaches said Bryant showed consistent improvement throughout the spring, while freshman quarterback Trevor Lawrence made a push in the last half of the 15 practices. He really showed out in the final scrimmages and in front of 55,000 fans in the Orange & White Game.
“I like the direction we are going in from a tempo standpoint, but I also like the chemistry of this offensive unit right now,” Elliott said.
Obviously, the Tigers still have some things it has to work on when they reconvene for fall camp in August.
“We have to continue to get better in short yardage,” Elliott said. “The red zone is an emphasis in tempo. I think, overall, everybody has bought into the tempo, but it is a function of every single thing. There has to be a certain mentality and mindset to actually execute the tempo.”