Just a few plays from 4-0

Jacoby Ford and Thomas Austin believe the Tigers are better than 2-2.

Jacoby Ford doesn't believe Clemson is a .500 team—he said it's better.

A close knit unit, he see or hear any finger pointing, especially when it comes to a missed plays that have cost the Tigers two losses.

"Nobody on this team has pointed fingers and I don't think we're going to," he said. "That definitely makes the team more united and a lot better in the long run."

Referring to the eight play clip that Coach Dabo Swinney played from the Texas Christian game, Thomas Austin said successful executions on three or four of those would have resulted in a different outcome.

Instead of Clemson talking about being a few plays away, it could have been Texas Christian.

"When it comes to a tough game, that's really what makes the difference, just a few plays," he said.

Contrary to popular belief among many Clemson fans, Austin believes the Tigers are a few plays away from being 4-0, instead of being at 2-2.

"I think a lot of head coaches will tell you, in close ball games with two quality opponents, it's five or six plays that make the difference," he said.

In wins of 37-14 over Middle Tennessee and 25-7 over Boston College, the missed assignments and poor executions aren't quite as glaring as those from the 30-27 loss to Georgia Tech and the 14-10 loss to Texas Christian.

Austin said, "When you're beating a team by 20 points, those five or six plays may not seem as important because they are overshadowed by other plays."

He's encouraged by last week's performance along the offensive line. No sacks by All-American defensive end Jerry Hughes and amassing over 100 rushing yards both appear to be tangible strides for a unit that has been criticized more often than not.

Austin feels there's room for improvement and it starts with fixing the mental mistakes.

"There's going to be technique problems, but there have been times totally blowing assignments, going the wrong way on a play," he said. "It's stuff we can control and clean up."

Facing a Maryland team that has had more struggles than successes this year, Clemson could put together an impressive day running the ball. The Tigers are averaging almost 149 rushing yards a game this year and the Terrapins giving up 202 yards (110th best in the country).

Although defensive coordinator Don Brown is in his first-year at Maryland, Ford said there's still a persona about Maryland football teams.

"We feel like we can be just as dominant, powerful and strong as they always are," he said. "It's always a good to go up there and have a good game because you know it's going to be a good, physical team.

"We know we're going to get their best shot."

Maryland gave Clemson its best shot last year, coming from behind for a 20-17 win over the 20th ranked Tigers in Death Valley.

Austin expects another difficult matchup.

"Schematically, it's a very complicated defense with a lot of blitz packages and multiple fronts," he said. "We're going to have to really do our research."

Although he doesn't like to lose, he thinks Clemson has gotten better at the expense of its two losses. The learning experiences could be valuable as the Tigers head into the meat of this year's conference schedule.

"I think you can learn a lot from losing to a team like TCU instead of beating a team by 30 points," he said.

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