On the first hour of this Saturday’s version of ESPN’s College GameDay, the trio of David Pollack, Desmond Howard and Kirk Herbstreit each dished their thoughts out on the state of Clemson’s program and where the Tigers go from here.
Leading up to today’s game against NC State, ESPN set forth a segment that showed Matt Bockhort’s fiery comments from earlier this week. It resonated with the crew and summarizes the level of frustration that has boiled up until this point.
“If I’m Dabo, all these years I’ve had to manufacture so many bad things against me like these guys are pissed now,” Pollack said. “These guys are literally upset. They have something to be upset about. Usually, it’s like ‘Hey we’re gonna go to the natty. We’re gonna be in the final four, the ACC stinks.’ Dabo’s got everything he needs right now. Listen, do they need to get some things fixed? 100 percent. The offensive line has to get better. I think the quarterback run game will be more and more a part of this offense. But right now, the best thing about this team is they’re gonna be pissed off.”
As for Howard, the former Heisman winner believes that D.J. Uiagalelei “almost refuses to run.” That he’s hesitant and won’t tuck the ball and run unless instructed otherwise by his offensive coordinator, Tony Elliott.
Howard has been concerned with Clemson’s offense and he hasn’t been shy about sharing that opinion throughout. However, he does love what he’s seen from Bockhorst and his willingness to hold others around him accountable.
“I just love the way that Matt Bockhorst said, ‘Listen, I’m not here to make friends.’ He’s now starting to hold his teammates accountable,” Howard said. “When Dabo Swinney did a press conference he said, “Yeah, he’s playing a lot of football here. He’s seen the way we win. He knows the standard.’ So now, he’s gonna hold his teammates accountable. I love that. I hope he shows himself today when they play NC State, though.”
As for Herbstreit, he believes Clemson’s issues offensively go beyond this season and into last, where they were masked by two first-round picks, who now play for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
“Clemson’s had some years where they’ve struggled early,” Herbstreit said. “I think Tony Elliott, what I’ve seen him do, is they go back to the practice and simplify, help the offensive line out and they go fast. I think we’ll see more tempo, more to try to accelerate, try to get NC. State on their heels.
“But there are real issues here with this offensive line. This was an issue last year. It was hidden because you had Travis Etienne, you had Trevor Lawrence and they threw the ball out more than they were able to run. They cannot run the ball for the second year in a row as we sit here right now. You got NC State, if they’re smart, they’re gonna set back and coverage and not let [Joseph] Ngata…make them beat you vertically and just see if they can run the ball and move the ball down the field.”
Clemson’s offense will try to right the ship when the Tigers take on NC State (2-1, 0-0 ACC) today at 3:30 p.m. at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh, N.C.