This one was tough. After both teams blew through their week one opponents on opening Thursday, they came into yesterday’s game with a couple extra days’ rest and eager to use one another as a measuring stick for this season’s expectations. The verdict: Clemson is really damn good.
That’s not to say that there is no room for improvement for the Aggies: for the majority of this game, the offense struggled in all areas and the defense was gradually worn down through attrition and the sheer relentlessness of Clemson’s skill players. It was somewhat respectable, and it was also disappointing. Both of these things can be true, despite the binary nature of the Internet echo chamber.
1: play for 20+ yards. The Aggie offense lacked any semblance of explosiveness. The longest rush was 8 yards. Venables was throwing all kinds of looks at the offense, but a good team will both adjust and execute, and Mond could not get the O clicking at any point.
2: sacks. We gave up two sacks, and we sacked Trevor Lawrence twice, but it sure seemed like the numbers were in their favor while watching live.
4: passing plays of 25+ yards given up. Three of them came in the second quarter, all of them at crucial times that led directly to Clemson scores. Trevor Lawrence was pressured, but didn’t give a single damn and made the plays anyway.
6: punts. Braden Mann had a decent outing, although his average was more human than last year. Still, he boomed a 60-yarder and flipped the field on a few occasions, helping the defense keep us in the game for the first quarter and change.
9: penalties, for 85 yards. The team looked crisp on opening night, but the Death Valley crowd got them rattled a little bit. Procedural and false start penalties at inopportune times are never going to help you beat a #1 juggernaut.
30: yards. This was the longest play from scrimmage by either team throughout the entire game. No one was going to mistake this for a Big 12 game.
53: rushing yards. Ouch. Our entire team’s output matched Travis Etienne’s, and we thought that we did a decent job containing him.
32:36: Hey, we won time of possession! Probably because we milked the entire fourth quarter on that lone touchdown drive.
289: total Aggie offense.
389: total Clemson offense.
Holding the Tigers under 400 is fairly decent, considering how inept the offense was during the middle half of the game. Jimbo is not going to bench his third-year starting QB on the road against #1. That’s a huge gamble, and if the untested backup doesn’t pull off a miracle, it’s going to damage the team chemistry for the entire season. He’s made it clear that Kellen Mond is his guy, and he is going to stick with him. Fisher would also probably be the first to tell us that Mond has to bounce back from this and show improved accuracy and decision making in the Auburn game. Either way, we’ve got a bit of a respite next week to heal up and restore confidence. This post should be much more fun next Sunday.
Have a great week and let’s get psyched for Lamar.