Disclaimer: I haven’t yet watched this game. I’ve been out of town at a professional conference this weekend, and my weekend has been packed full of events that kept me from being able to watch the game. However, based on what I’ve read and heard, I have a few observations; more may come this week if I have time to watch a replay, although we’ll probably just focus on Clemson.
I will say, first of all, that Wofford should be commended for giving big-time football another scare. The Terriers routinely give Carolina and Clemson games like this, despite the fact that they're basically into these fights with one hand tied behind their backs, due to recruiting budgets, scholarship restrictions, etc. Mike Ayers deserves credit for building a good football team in Spartanburg. I wish them luck in the FCS Playoffs.
On to the game. Based on everything I’ve read, there were three major problems for Carolina in this game, all of them relating to the offense. The defense gave up some yardage, but I’ll take giving up only seven points to Wofford any day of the week. The three problems were offensive line play, quarterback play, and turnovers. It sounds like Corey Robinson and Brandon Shell had trouble containing Wofford’s edge rush, perhaps because they weren’t used to blocking smaller defensive ends. As Shaw’s confidence in the line waned over the course of the game, he got happy feet, quit making his reads, and began to play erratically. The results were predictable, with Carolina struggling to move the ball. Even with those problems, Carolina still had its chances to blow this game open. However, Shaw was intercepted in the Wofford red zone in the first quarter, and Mike Davis fumbled at the Wofford goal line in the second, costing Carolina two excellent opportunities for touchdowns. If we had gotten those, the game might have gone much differently, as Wofford would have been forced away from its plan to eat the clock and shorten the game. It wasn’t to be, though.
There are two possible responses to this game. One is that we were looking ahead to Clemson, which is understandable. Even with it being the final home game, it was probably hard for our guys to get up for this one, with a huge showdown against the Tigers coming the following week. On the other hand, I think it has to be said that if our offense struggles against Clemson like it did this week, we’re going to be in trouble. We’re going to have to score points to beat Clemson. Their offense is playing very well right now. I know we shut them down last year, but they’re playing much better this year than they were going into last year’s game. Needless to say, I hope that we’re capable of holding them below what they’ve been getting against ACC competition, but I don’t think it’s reasonable to believe that we’re going to shut them down. We’re not going to be able to win this one 17-14 or something like that. We need to score 30+ points, at the very least. If you watched any of the Clemson-N.C. State game yesterday, you know that the opportunities will be there. The Clemson defense, particularly in the back four, is absolutely terrible. But if our offensive line can’t play well and Shaw can’t make good decisions, we’re going to be in trouble. Let’s hope we return to form, quick.