When it comes to those on the outside of Clemson’s football program who might think Clemson’s offense won’t be able to figure it out, don’t count Boston College coach Jeff Hafley among them.
Hafley and his coaching staff have been poring over tape of the Tigers this week in preparation for Boston College’s matchup with No. 19 Clemson on Saturday at Memorial Stadium. And despite Clemson (2-2, 1-1 ACC) being ranked in the triple digits in most national offensive categories statistically, Hafley said the film he’s watched of the Tigers’ first four games shows signs of an offense that’s close to breaking out.
“I know right now their record is not what everyone is used to seeing at Clemson, but just turn on the tape and watch them,” Hafley told reporters Tuesday. “At least from a defensive standpoint watching their offense, they’re just inches away. I mean, five thrown passes that are just misses or they dropped them or the (running) back missed a cutback that they’re scoring and they’re scoring and they’re scoring (if that happens).
“I respect the scheme, I respect the players, and this will be a big test in a hostile environment. And I’m pretty sure we’re going to get their best on Saturday night.”
It will be the second trip in as many years to Clemson for Hafley’s team, which put a scare in the Tigers last year. With D.J. Uiagalelei filling in for Trevor Lawrence at quarterback because of COVID-19 protocols, the Eagles led Clemson by 18 points in the first half before the Tigers rallied for a 34-28 win.
For Hafley, it will be the third straight season he’s had a direct hand in trying to stop Clemson’s offense. He spent the 2019 season as Ohio State’s co-defensive coordinator when the Buckeyes lost to Clemson in the Fiesta Bowl as part of the College Football Playoff, so he’s all too familiar with what the Tigers are capable of even if some of the personnel has changed.
“They’re getting a lot of undeserved criticism because, guys, it’s inches,” Hafley said. “(Uiagalelei) is a good player. (Justyn) Ross is back. I have experience going up against him. He’s a great wideout. And then they’ve got (Joseph Ngata), (E.J. Williams) and (Frank Ladson Jr.). I know their running back (Will Shipley) is out, but (Kobe Pace) is a good player.
“They’re one of the most talented teams in America with good coaches. So we’re looking forward to the challenge.”
Football season has finally arrived. Time to represent your Tigers and show your stripes!