Clemson’s offense is very bad this year. Clemson’s offense is also very dangerous. Both of those things are true because Clemson still has an offense full of talent and the vast majority of that talent has shown that they can play at a high level. Tony Elliot has come under a bit of fire this year as fans blame him for the offensive struggles but the former Broyles Award winner didn’t forget how to coach over the summer. This offense is just looking for an opportunity to put it all together again.
The Tigers only have two scholarship Quarterbacks right now and neither has played well this season. DJ Uiagalelei has been very pedestrian after being flat-out dominant in his limited time last season. DJ has been slow in his decisions, inaccurate, and ineffective as a runner. Essentially all of the things that Trevor Lawrence was good at, DJ has struggled with. There are plenty of theories of why he’s struggling but it seems to me that the elevation to “The Guy” status has been hard for him. The talk in Clemson this week is that he is coming around as a leader but we will have to wait and see.
Clemson also lost one of the best Running Backs in school history with Travis Etienne going to the NFL. They replaced him with 5-star speedster Will Shipley but things have been a real struggle at times. Shipley took on the starting role but Clemson lost two backs to the transfer portal early this season. Lyn-J Dixon was a proven commodity but fell out of favor for some reason. That left the Tigers with Shipley and Kobe Pace as the main options in the run game. Phil Mafah is a big back who looked very good last week so the Tigers do have some options to work with.
The most disappointing group for Clemson has been the Wide Receivers. Clemson just reloads at this spot but there have been some fair questions about their recruiting at this position. Clemson has a group of Receivers who are all extremely similar. They are all some form of 6-4/210 and very long. That causes some issues when you need to diversify your passing game. Every guy has a similar skillset which means you have to call plays that fit what they do and can’t do much else.
While Justyn Ross has returned to the roster and he looks like his former self most of the time. The issue is that he is playing in the slot this year and he hasn’t been able to be the big-play threat down the field like we saw in his freshman year. He and Joseph Ngata are the main targets for DJ but Ajou Ajou and Beaux Collins have had some moments. The player to keep an eye on is Davis Allen at Tight End. He has come on lately in different areas of the field.
The Offensive Line for the Tigers has been a mess all year with injuries and lack of depth being a big factor. Dabo Swinney has been fairly criticized this year for having a policy of not taking transfers. That has led to a numbers issue with the line and the injuries they’ve suffered put a spotlight on their depth. The mix of DJ’s indecision with the line’s struggles with sustaining a clean pocket has been a big reason for the offensive issues overall. Where Clemson has done well is opening running lanes for the backs. Shipley is coming off a 128-yard game while Pace has had a 100+-yard game this year and Mafah is a huge back that can wear you down.