In this installment of The Smoldering Ruin, we take a look back at the week Clemson Football played Louisiana Tech. It was hard fought, the Tigers came out victorious, but the Bulldogs showed absolute class in their loss on Saturday.
We’re a quarter of the season behind us. The Tigers are 3-0; They scored as many points as they did in 3 games in roughly the same period as 2014-2020 and also gave up roughly the same amount. But you wouldn’t know based on how everyone’s been acting lately.
I say “everyone,” but it’s really just a group of people on the message boards (insert Clemson media page) who think they have all the answers, but would desert the program if they called the shots had. I know most of you out there are not, so I’m going to write this for all the level headed people I know reading this.
Unfortunately I couldn’t be there on Saturday. I know I’ve been messing around getting people to leave all week if you could. In my examples I live about an hour away, have a toddler who is in true toddler mode and another baby on the way, so I figured it would be smart for my personal life, my 1 night play I Come on, don’t screw up Go this year at Louisiana Tech.
Everyone was talking about the lights and the pomp of the new and improved run down the hill on Saturday night. I’m telling you, even on the TV, the camera had a view of the Howard’s Rock viewpoint with all the cellphones lit up, and it looked pretty phenomenal in this viewer’s eyes.
The game itself has been a microcosm of the season so far: far better than 2021, but still volatile.
I have to retract criticism of certain aspects of the game. Did the pass defense look leaky and maybe something to keep an eye on? Sure, absolutely. At the same time, you’ve missed 3 key DBs and put 3 freshmen in the spotlight against an offense you can’t take lightly. It was a baptism of fire and at times the triumvirate of Luke, Pride and Covil had flaws in their first year that made them look lost. By the same token, there have been times (though not perfectly) when they’ve held their ground and gained valuable reps in the process. We can expect Sheridan Jones, Mukuba and Wiggins to be back either this week or next, but don’t discount the experience of these newcomers.
It’s also always a misrepresentation of defensive performance when playing against an air attack offensive. The Bulldogs have put together well over 300 yards on passing but under 15 yards on rushing. Although most people who execute these attacks would prefer a bit more balance, this attack is designed for that – short and medium passes to complement runs, and then a few big plays. Was it a perfect defense? Absolutely not, but the adjustments I’ve seen have been a plus and there’s still room for this defense to grow.
I can’t complain about the performance offensively. DJ just keeps getting better, running game was very strong in the 2nd half, wide receivers making plays, and 2 freshmen wide receivers are new discoveries that brought flashes of what this offense used to be.
The problem this week, as it has been the last 2 weeks before, is inconsistency. This time I believe in the calling of the game; I get it. If a G5 team is providing man coverage to Clemson’s WRs, it should be an open season. And while the team had their moments, they didn’t properly seize the 1st half momentum they should have by simply running the ball. Clemson averaged 7.2 yards per carry and Will Shipley averaged a whopping 10.8 YPC. He averaged 11.6 in the 1st half when the offensive side seemed reluctant to capitalize on that advantage.
This is the lonely frustration. They have a running back that rolls runs and helps build confidence in an O-Line that needs just that. From this point on, you should stop guessing this part. If you can run the ball, run the stinky ball.
Once the staff got out of the way, it was open season. There were 3 straight scoring drives including a wide open TD pass that Clemson hasn’t seen in a while. Running the ball helps set that up. Keep up the good work and this team has a chance to have some sort of post-season run.
Clemson Football played on a Louisiana Tech team that was pure class, starting with Sonny Cumbie, who bought and wore an E11A Strong shirt
Another thing I just gotta say commit to putting the game down before doing mass subs.
We all want to see Cade play. That’s perfectly fine, but if you don’t run him on the ones or have a package for him, get at least 40 points before you start making these types of staff moves. This isn’t just a 2022 thing. It happened in 2015 with Kelly B and Schussler, it happened some with Chase Brice, and it happened in 2020 when I was trying to get the DJ playing early. I understand you’re trying to play against your boys and it’s great as a player to know your coach is doing that, but make sure you’re far enough up front that you don’t have to use your starters again.
Finally, as I mentioned, Louisiana Tech was absolute class.
From Sonny Cumbie simply unknowingly buying an “Ella Strong” shirt, to the fact that he wrote a letter directly to Bryan Bresee, to his entire team writing to the Bresee family during this time of grief. It wasn’t just a tip on the cap, it was intentional and showed humanity more than just a game. It’s something that won’t get much media attention nationally, but locally, Sonny Cumbie has just amassed a small army of fans simply by taking an extra step to show that he cares about more than his athletes.
I’m willing to bet there will be more tech game viewers from upstate South Carolina as long as Coach Cumbie is in Ruston.
As it should be.
Continue to Wake.