Second-ranked Clemson escaped Chapel Hill, North Carolina with a one-point victory over the Tar Heels this past Saturday.
The Tigers’ offense struggled to find a rhythm, but did just enough to allow the defense to bail them out with a big stop on a two-point conversion with 1:17 to play that could have won the game for North Carolina.
Clemson totaled 331 yards of total offense and finished 8-of-15 on third down. Much of the third down struggles related to the six pre-snap penalties that turned third-and-short into third-and-long, and thus spoiled the drives.
Kenan Stadium seats 51,000 and doesn’t have the reputation for a hostile or deafening environment. But, nonetheless, the Tigers jumped the snap count multiple times.
While many pundits and media members jumped on Clemson’s offensive line for its struggles, graduate guard Gage Cervenka feels they played well all things considered.
“I didn’t think we played too bad, but we had some really big penalties on crucial downs,” Cervenka told members of the media Monday. “They are easy things to fix but I felt we played really well because we didn’t quit and kept fighting.”
The false starts and procedure penalties that plagued the Tigers this past weekend at North Carolina are uncharacteristic of a football team managed by head coach Dabo Swinney and offensive line coach Robbie Caldwell.
Cervenka made no excuse for the procedure penalties called on Clemson, but felt his team was without a doubt focused and ready to play the Tar Heels.
“It was a combination of things but I wouldn’t say it was a lack of focus. We wanted to go up there and score, so it wasn’t that we weren’t focused,” Cervenka said. “I’ve had false starts because of eagerness on a silent count and you never really know when the center will snap it so you jump.”
After watching film from the game, Cervenka learned a lot about his team and how to embrace their shortcomings in an open week before the Tigers host Florida State on Oct 12.
“There is a lot to learn and improve on from that game, I’m just happy we came out with a W,” Cervenka said.
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