Elliott understands fans' frustration with Clemson's offense. He has a message for them, too

Elliott understands fans' frustration with Clemson's offense. He has a message for them, too

Football

Elliott understands fans' frustration with Clemson's offense. He has a message for them, too

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Tony Elliott may be taking a season-long hiatus from social media, but Clemson’s offensive coordinator isn’t naive to the collective groan outside of the program toward the Tigers’ offensive performance this season.

After again scoring in the teens in a double-digit loss at Pittsburgh on Saturday — a game that saw quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei benched briefly during the second half — Clemson ranks no better than 115th out of 130 FBS teams in yards and points. The Tigers’ 20 points per game and 321.2 yards per game are on pace for their lowest in Dabo Swinney’s 13-year tenure as head coach.

As Clemson’s play caller, Elliott has been on the receiving end of most of the frustration and criticism from fans. Even former NFL quarterback and analyst Trent Dilfer took a shot at Clemson’s coaches for the development — or lack thereof — of Uiagalelei, who went 12 of 25 with two interceptions against Pitt and ranks in the bottom third among starting quarterbacks nationally in completion percentage (54.8).

Considering Elliott was also on Clemson’s staff when the likes of Tahj Boyd, Deshaun Watson and Trevor Lawrence were excelling behind center, Elliott didn’t think much of that criticism Monday, only offering up a “hm” in response. But Elliott empathized with the fans’ frustration while taking his share of responsibility for one of the worst offenses Clemson has fielded in a while.

“I understand they’re frustrated, and I don’t blame them for being frustrated,” he said. “We’re all frustrated because we’re not performing, so I own it. But at the same time, too, I don’t listen to it. I don’t pay attention to it.

“I’m really just focusing on the guys in the arena because, at the end of the day, it’s us that’s going to get us out of this situation.”

As for his message to disgruntled fans…

“What I would say to them is, hey, I respect your opinion. You have a platform for it. And I wish things were not the way they were. But, at the end of the day, I know one thing, that everybody in this building and everybody in this program is working extremely hard trying to persevere through the adversity because we believe that this is going to reveal the true character of the program.”

Elliott noted this sort of struggle isn’t completely new to the Tigers, even if it’s been a while. In 2010, Clemson scored 21 points or fewer six times on its way to averaging 24 points and 334.6 yards. The Tigers won six games that season.

How many Clemson end up getting this season remains to be seen, particularly with the amount of attrition the Tigers are dealing with. Clemson has already lost 14 scholarship players to season-ending injuries, including  offensive lineman Matt Bockhorst (torn ACL), receiver Frank Ladson (groin), receiver/punt returner Will Taylor (torn ACL) and likely tight end Braden Galloway (shoulder).

“All of those people that are upset with me, there was adversity that brought about the success,” Elliott said. “We understand that, and we’re going to stay the course and keep working. And I understand also that I’m accountable. So I’m not running from that. I’m not shying away from that. I’ve got five more games, and then we’ll see kind of where we go. But I’m taking it one game at a time, and we’re working our tail off and trying to do the best we can.”

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