Entering Friday night’s game, Clemson thought it would be able to run the ball effectively against a Syracuse defense that came into the contest ranked No. 31 in the FBS in run defense, allowing 113.8 rushing yards per game.
However, the Tigers were unable to exploit that and finished the game with 116 rushing yards on 37 carries, averaging just 3.1 yards per attempt. Kobe Pace led the way with 76 yards on 14 carries and a touchdown, while Phil Mafah, D.J. Uiagalelei and Taisun Phommachanh combined for just 58 yards on 21 carries.
Following Clemson’s 17-14 win over the Orange, Clemson offensive coordinator Tony Elliott talked about the offense’s struggles in the run game and what is going wrong for the Tigers on that side of the ball overall.
“I thought we were going to be able to run the ball, but we cut some drives short too,” Elliott said. “We have the drive coming out and we snap the ball over the head. We lose 17 yards and now we are playing catchup. So that is an opportunity right there, if you keep that drive going, where you are going to have an opportunity to pick up maybe 30 or 40 yards rushing.
“Again the biggest thing for us is we have to get our of our own way. The numbers are now where they are as a reflection of one guy over here, or we have a false start and then you have a guy that doesn’t execute his block the right way and forces the running back to stop his feet before he gets there, before he gets to the line of scrimmage. So it is just one thing after another. And it is not one guy in particular. It just seems like at the most inopportune time, we are having that one breakdown which gets us out of rhythm and we are not able to sustain drives.”
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