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Boston College @ Clemson - Offense Preview

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The defending champs’ kryptonite

Clemson v NC State Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

The Clemson Tigers have been remarkably average this season so far, largely due to their struggles on the offensive side of the ball. Against 3 FBS opponents so far this season, they’ve scored just 5 offensive TDs, which is a very low number in today’s NCAA climate. BC, for comparison, has scored 13 offensive TDs against its 3 FBS opponents, all but 1 without QB Phil Jurkovec. If BC wins on Saturday night, it will be because they took full advantage of Clemson’s offensive struggles.

Quarterback

The Tigers’ QB is DJ Uiagalelei, henceforth referred to as “DJ” so I don’t have to type that name any more times. DJ is a sophomore in his first full year of playing, after replacing Trevor Lawrence for a couple games last year, including against BC. So far... he has not been impressive. Against FBS opponents, he’s thrown for 2 TDs, rushed for 0 TDs, thrown 2 INTs, thrown for just 138 yards per game, and has rushed for just 29 yards per game for a QB that is supposed to be pretty mobile. His inexperience has been showing through a ton as well, which has included accuracy issues and a lack of ability to shift around in the pocket consistently. DJ isn’t a terrible QB and can still scramble on occasion, extend some plays, and make some athletic throws. But he’s certainly not the Heisman candidate that was hyped up before the season.

Running backs

Clemson’s lead back is freshman Will Shipley, who at this point has also not been super impressive, and now reportedly is set to miss a few weeks, so he may not even play against Boston College. Against 3 FBS opponents, Shipley has put up just 44 rushing yards per game, 3 rushing TDs, 5 yards receiving per game, and no receiving TDs. It should be noted that Shipley isn’t really a receiving back, Clemson uses sophomore Kobe Pace moreso for passing and change-of-pace. Pace against those 3 FBS opponents, though, has just 8 rushing yards per game, 0 rushing TDs, 8 receiving yards per game, and 0 receiving TDs.

This RB group is not strong, either. They’ve been pretty useless in the passing game, their yards per carry have been mediocre, and Shipley may not even play. This freshman and sophomore have plenty of potential, but right now they do not look anything like superstar Clemson RB Travis Etienne looked like for the last few seasons.

Receivers

Here’s where Clemson actually has a couple stars. So far this season, WRs Justyn Ross and Joseph Ngata have led the Tigers in receiving by a wide margin. Each has over 200 yards through the air through 4 games and they’ve looked dynamic while doing it, making up for some of the deficiencies and inconsistencies in Clemson’s QB play. The BC secondary will have a tough time covering these two, as they are a step up from the Mizzou WR corps that they already were struggling with last week.

Offensive Line

Clemson has one of the best offensive lines in the country, which is why it’s been extra surprising that the QB and RB production has been so substandard. They struggled to begin the year, giving up 7 sacks against an impressive Georgia defense, but since then have only let up 2 sacks in the following 3 games. The depleted BC defensive front will have a hard time penetrating Clemson’s line in the trenches, giving DJ some time to make things work.