Clemson’s offense is slowly growing up

Clemson’s offense is slowly growing up

Football

Clemson’s offense is slowly growing up

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Monday Morning Quarterback

Right off the bat, Louisville’s offense came out ready to play.

The Cardinals needed just six plays to drive the football 75 yards, capped by a 26-yard touchdown run from running back Jalen Mitchell. Just two minutes and 52 seconds into the game, Clemson found itself trailing by seven points.

But did we finally see the Tigers’ grow up a little on offense?

Clemson stunned the Cardinals, as it needed just 53 seconds and three plays to respond. Quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei found a streaking Beaux Collins wide open behind the Louisville secondary for a 46-yard touchdown, the Tigers’ longest scoring pass of the season.

“We took a big shot right there. That is what we planned all week and we did it,” Uiagalelei said following the Tigers’ 30-24 victory at Cardinals Stadium. “It was great to see that ball go for a touchdown. We were all excited.”

After a 12-yard run by Kobe Pace on the Tigers’ first play from scrimmage. Uiagalelei then completed a 17-yard pass to Joseph Ngata, setting up his 46-yard bomb to Collins.

“That is the way you want to come in and start a game,” the Clemson quarterback said. “We were really excited, but we have to be able to come back, game after game, and get those second and third drives and be able to capitalize on those as well.”

Clemson (6-3, 5-2 ACC) did a pretty good job of that against Louisville, for the most part. Every time the Cardinals seemed as if they seized control of the game, the Tigers responded.

“It was huge. Momentum is key,” Clemson offensive coordinator Tony Elliott said. “The game is going to come down to who can flip the momentum at the right time, but it was our responsibility to challenge the guys, too.”

Louisville (4-5, 2-4 ACC) took a 17-7 lead in the second quarter, only to see Clemson respond with 10 straight points, including an 8-yard Uiagalelei scoring toss to tight end Davis Allen.

Malik Cunningham and the Cardinals again grabbed the lead (24-17), when the quarterback ran 51 yards with 11:29 to play in the third quarter.

That was it. This is when the Clemson offense has usually folds in 2021. This time they did not.

Instead, they came back with 13-unswered points, including Uiagalelei’s 8-yard rush for the game-winning score with 4:12 to go.

“It was good to see our offense step up and pick the defense up,” head coach Dabo Swinney said. “Our defense has been there for us all year. I mean, are you kidding me? Our three losses, they put us in position to win and we did not get it done on offense. But it was awesome to see the offense pick those guys up. I think that is great for our team.”

And for once this year, it was the offense carrying the defense.

“That is love for each other. That is belief in who we are. That is a belief in our program,” Swinney said. “It is culture, but most of all, they care, and they believe.”

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