Outside of the six turnovers, there were dropped passes everywhere ... by everyone. From Xavier Dye to Brandon Clear to Terrance Ashe and Jaron Brown, Clemson's wide receivers couldn't create separation against the Miami defense and when they did, they couldn't bring the reception. The lone bright spot was Andre Ellington, who may very well turn out to be the best running back in the ACC this season. All he did was rush 17 times for 107 yards and three touchdowns and single-handily keep the Tigers in contention.
Kyle Parker was off in the first half, completing just 5-of-17 passes for just over 30 yards, including an inexcusable interception with time winding down that led to Miami establishing a 27-14 halftime lead. While he improved in the second, it wasn't nearly enough as he finished with just 14 completions on 33 attempts for no touchdowns and a back-breaking 3 interceptions.
Back to wide receiver - despite his one fumble, DeAndre Hopkins has to be given serious consideration for a starting role next week at North Carolina because Clemson's dearth of talent at the position has proven costly the last two weeks. If that's not in order, perhaps Marcus Gilchrist or DeAndre McDaniel should get consideration to play both ways. Seriously.
It was tale of two halves for the Clemson defense. The first half was devastating as Miami rang up 280 yards of total offense and scored on a variety of big plays, including a 65-yarder from Jacory Harris to Leonard Hankerson - one of three scoring strikes for the combo on the afternoon. The second half was a different story as Clemson applied more pressure on Harris and did a better job of playing closer to Miami's receivers to prevent the big play. Da'Quan Bowers continued his dominant play against the 'Canes- recording 4.5 tackles for loss and two forced fumbles on six total tackles. Marcus Gilchrist also brought in his first career interception and Rashard Hall had his first of the season as well. The effort was there, but the breakdowns in the secondary in the first half, plus the six turnovers the offense turned in were costly for Kevin Steele's unit.
The lone bright spot was Andre Ellington, who may very well turn out to be the best running back in the ACC this season. All he did was rush 17 times for 107 yards and three touchdowns and single-handily keep the Tigers in contention. (Roy Philpott)
Punter Dawson Zimmerman continued his strong season with six punts for a 47.8 yard average and Clemson's kick coverage teams made Miami returners Lamar Miller and Travis Benjamin seem like after thoughts. Catman rebounded from the missed field goal at Auburn to connect on all of his extra points and the Tigers also blocked an extra point as well. All in all, another strong performance for Clemson's special teams.
Given the poor performance of passing game in the first half, there was no reason for the offensive play calling to get greedy with less than a minute to play before halftime. Unfortunately it did as Kyle Parker threw an interception with less than a minute to play that was quickly turned into a Miami touchdown. Simply put, that was one of the two biggest plays of the game. The other was the failed fourth and 1 conversion midway through the fourth quarter. Credit Kevin Steele for making adjustments to Miami's quick calls at the line of scrimmage as the Clemson defense stiffened after halftime, but the offense never found its rhythm outside of a few big runs from Andre Ellington.
Saturday's loss to the 'Canes can be defined in one word: mistakes. Six turnovers, three sacks given up, at least six dropped passes, a plethora of poor throws and a couple of blown coverages were devastating. In fact, it's amazing Clemson was driving for the go-ahead score halfway through the fourth quarter given the calamity of errors. If you want to look on the bright side, at least it's not a division loss. Still, with a trip to North Carolina next weekend, the path to Charlotte in early December doesn't look any easier after starting the ACC slate 0-1.