A former Clemson and NFL player went in-depth on the issues he sees with the Tigers offensively, from quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei to the offensive line and running game to the wide receivers and coaching.
Coty Sensabaugh – a standout cornerback at Clemson from 2007-11 who went on to play with several different teams in the NFL from 2012-19 – discussed the Tigers’ offensive struggles in length during the “One-on-Ones” podcast with former Louisville and NFL wide receiver Harry Douglas.
“I’m not putting the blame on anybody specifically, I’m putting it on everybody as a whole because they’re a unit — whether it’s the offensive line, QB, running backs, receivers, coaching — they have no identity,” Sensabaugh said. “From the O-line, what I would like to see… They’re young, but I think the coaches need to give them a better opportunity to be successful by getting the ball out quicker. In the run game, everything not going sideways. Sometimes you’ve got to run straight at people and punch them in the mouth. The quarterback, I think he has everything it takes to be successful, but I need to see his anticipation quicker. It’s like he’s getting the ball, he’s looking at the receiver, OK he’s open, now I’m going to throw it. It’s too late. It needs to be more anticipation. … I just want to see a little bit better anticipation from him and the receivers. I need to see more separation. Clemson went and recruited the same guy (at receiver) all across the board. All of them are big basketball guys that are straight-line guys that outrebound people. They need a mix up in the intermediate game, and until we find that, I think we’re going to struggle on offense.”
Sensabaugh explained another specific thing that frustrates him when he watches the Tigers on offense.
“I was at Clemson back in 2011 when (offensive coordinator) Chad Morris brought this same offense into the program,” Sensabaugh said. “And I know this, way back then — as great as the offense was with the playmakers that we had and still to this day, that offense is built on hitting a home run, whether it’s in the air or on the ground. The offense that Clemson runs is so frustrating to me because it’s built on scoring in two to six plays. If it can’t score in two to six plays — if it’s a seven-plus, eight-plus, nine-plus drive, it struggles because it’s not built for that. It’s built on the home run, and as we can see as fans right now, the home run isn’t there whether it’s play-calling, execution.”
Uiagalelei and the Tigers have thrown for just one touchdown this season (against FCS team South Carolina State) while Clemson (2-1, 1-0 ACC) has mustered only 17 total points in the two games against Georgia and Georgia Tech.
The Bulldogs limited the Tigers to 180 total yards and three points on a field goal while racking up seven sacks, while Clemson was held to 207 total yards through three quarters against the Yellow Jackets and scored the only two touchdowns of the game on a pair of 3-yard rushing scores by freshman running back Will Shipley.
“Georgia laid out the blueprint on how to stop Clemson, then Georgia Tech just piggybacked off of that,” Sensabaugh said. “If you don’t give up the home run against Clemson, it’s going to be hard for them to score. So, I think they have to find a better intermediate passing game at just moving the chains and not looking for the home run. It’s OK to not rush to the line and get a play off every 20 seconds. Slow it down and focus on execution more. More quality, less quantity.”
While Clemson’s offense has sputtered through the first three games, the defense has shut down opponents and not allowed a touchdown thus far.
But as good as the Tigers have been on that side of the ball, Sensabaugh thinks the offensive woes will eventually catch up to the team if the offense doesn’t step up its level of play moving forward.
“It’s just tough, man, because they have all the talent in the world,” he said. “But from the time they brought in that offense in 2011 — whether it was Chad Morris, Jeff Scott and Tony Elliott, to now Tony Elliott — it’s still based on the same principles, and it needs some retooling because it’s not working. And it would be a shame for as great as this defense is, this team doesn’t reach their capabilities because the offense isn’t adequate. Right now, it’s not even adequate. … Give me something to work with because if you can’t move the chains consistently as an offense, it’s only going to wear your defense down, and it’s only a matter of time before that time on the field catches up with that defense, even if you are getting three-and-outs.”
— The Field of 12 (@TheFieldOf12) September 23, 2021
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