After Dabo Swinney and the Clemson football team lost to Duke in week one, many people believed that the Tigers were on the verge of falling from their throne. Ever since the College Football Playoff began in 2015, Clemson has been one of the best teams in college football year in and year out, and Swinney is considered to be one of the best coaches in college football. The Tigers have dominated the ACC and they have won multiple national championships, but after missing the playoff last year and then starting this season with a loss, many believed that Clemson's dominance was coming to an end. However, the season is long, and the Tigers had a chance to reprove themselves on Saturday with #4 Florida State coming to town.
Clemson fell out of the rankings recently after a poor start to the season, but they looked good on Saturday, until they didn't. The Tigers led Florida State for the majority of the game, but ultimately fell in overtime to fall to 2-2 on the season. No team has ever played in the College Football Playoff with two losses. Clemson led by 10 multiple times in the game and had the ball late in the fourth quarter with a chance to go in front with under two minutes to play, but the Tigers couldn't get the job done. At the end of the day, they played well enough to win, but self-inflicted mistakes cost them the game. Here are two Tigers that could've been better on Saturday.
Kicker Johnathan Weitz
Clemson football kicker Johnathan Weitz had a scripted ending right in front of him in this one, but he couldn't get the job done. Weitz is 28 years old and just joined the football team as the Tigers needed a kicker. He looked good in this one as he was perfect on field goals and perfect on extra points as Clemson was driving late in the fourth quarter. The Tigers got down to the 11-yard line, but the Florida State defense came up with a big stop to force a field goal attempt. It was a short, 29-yard attempt, and the entire stadium thought that Clemson was going to take a 27-24 lead with under two minutes to play. Then Weitz yanked it wide left. That's a field goal that has to be made 100% of the time. Had that gone in and Clemson won the game, it would've been a storybook ending for Weitz, but it didn't happen. He showed a lot of promise in the game, but that's a field goal that can't be missed.
Offensive Coordinator Garrett Riley/offensive play callers
There are a few different people on the sidelines that help with play calling, and everyone involved needed to be better late in the fourth quarter and into overtime. When Clemson was driving the ball late on the missed field goal possession, the play calling got too cute at the end of the drive. The Tigers had a first down at the 11 and had a chance to score a touchdown. At this point, burning clock was one of the most important things to do, and a trick play that that led to an incompletion (almost a turnover) was called. It wasn't needed, and it also saved Florida State a timeout.
In overtime, a third and less than one play call may have cost the Tigers the game. Clemson was trailing 31-24 and needed a touchdown. With two plays to get less than one yard, smash mouth football running it up the middle is the smart thing to do. Instead of running it, Clemson threw a screen that led to a loss. It created a much more difficult fourth down play, and the Tigers couldn't convert, giving Florida State the win. Clemson's play-calling got way too cute down the stretch, and it cost them the game.
The Tigers are now 2-2 on the year, and their ACC title/CFP hopes are looking bleak.