They simply are giving the ball away too much. In fact, they rank last among 117 Division I-A teams in turnover margin, having lost 10 interceptions and four fumbles while gaining only one of each for a minus-3 average per game.
It was even worse at Florida State, where five turnovers cost the Tigers any shot of an upset of the Seminoles. The final score was 41-22, but at one point the Tigers were within 24-22. The Seminoles then scored to make it a nine-point game, and when QB Charlie Whitehurst threw another interception on the ensuing series, the rout was on.
Whitehurst threw only 13 interceptions all of last season, one per game, but he will pass that up by mid-season if he keeps on at his present pace. He also lost two fumbles against Florida State, giving him a hand in all of the Tigers' turnovers for the game.
"There are some turnovers where he's carried the ball loose in the pocket that's he got to correct," said Tommy Bowden. "He overthrew a sprint out pass, but he overthrew it- everybody makes a mistake. Carrying the ball loose in the pocket mechanically- that's what he needs to address."
Bowden also refuses to blame the scheme -- the Tigers rank third in the ACC in passing offense by producing 210 yards per game -- and notes the margin would not be as dramatic if the defense were getting some takeaways to offset the offensive woes. The Tigers had no takeaways against the Seminoles.
"Our schedule has been awful difficult. And the fact that's it difficult means the turnovers are going to be magnified," said Bowden. "And then the drops and the missed tackles. Those things can all be corrected on the field during an open date. I've got to make sure that our team understands where the problems lie. Not major overhauling of offensive and defensive schemes."
Whatever the problem, Clemson gains a little extra time to work on it with a bye coming up this week.
Their next game is Oct. 7 at undefeated Virginia, a team that has had only one interception and no lost fumbles through four games. The Cavaliers are second in the ACC in turnover margin at plus-1.25 per game.
Turnovers Must be Corrected
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