Clemson football: SC State game shows what the offensive identity needs to be
Clemson quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei (5) searches for a teammate to throw the ball to during their game against SC State Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021. Jm Clemson 091121 013
The Clemson football team picked up its first win of the season on Saturday to move to 1-1 on the year with a 49-3 win over the S.C. State Bulldogs in front of a crowd of more than 70,000 in Death Valley.
For the first time since November of 2019, Clemson football fans were back in Death Valley at full capacity.
While a 46-point win should never be completely written-off, the truth is that Tiger fans came away from the matchup with about the same two takeaways as the week before when Clemson lost to Georgia:
• The offense has a long ways to go.
There’s no doubting that Clemson has one of the deepest defenses that we’ve seen in quite a while. The starters absolutely dominated SC State– just as they did against UGA– and that unit is going to be able to give the offense some time to grow.
But, let’s be clear in saying that the offense is going to need to grow.
The Clemson football offense has to find its identity in tempo again
D.J. Uiagalelei completed less than 60 percent of his passes and finished the afternoon with just 171 yards passing and one touchdown with one interception. He also rushed for two touchdowns. Will Shipley led the running backs with eight carries for 80 yards and two touchdowns while Kobe Pace had seven carries for 68 yards and a touchdown.
While it’s great to see the running backs posting production, let’s be clear in understanding what opponents from here on out are going to do: They’re going to stack the box and make Uiagalelei beat them with his arm.
Unfortunately, he hasn’t proven he can do that– not this season, anyway– as of yet.
Uiagalelei can make every throw in the book, but he just looks like he’s pressing. If the game slows down for him, that’s when this offense will begin to click.
Speaking of the game slowing down for Uiagalelei, that brings us to what the offensive identity needs to be: It needs to speed up with tempo.
Quick, easy reads to get the ball out of his hand fast. Line up and go and get the defense on its heels. The Tigers did some tempo in the first quarter and it worked to perfection. That tempo may lead to some quick 3-and-outs every now and then, but more so than not, it’s going to highlight the strengths of the offense and diminish some of the weaknesses.
As Uiagalelei gets into a rhythm, the game will slow down for him and then, all of a sudden, we’re talking about a high-powered attack. But, at this point for better or for worse, the only answer is to let the offense’s identity be ‘tempo,’ kind of like the olden days with Chad Morris.