SI.com college football writer Stewart Mandel shares his commentary, analysis and random tidbits on the latest developments around the country.
10/07/2006 03:11:00 PM
Saturday Observations Part II
The play of the year in college football so far took place with 13:24 left in the Clemson-Wake Forest game. The Demon Deacons, having controlled the contest from the outset, were lining up for a 41-yard field goal attempt that would have given them a commanding 20-3 lead. But holder Jon Temple bobbled the snap, and in the ensuing chaos, Clemson's All-America defensive end Gaines Adams popped Temple, sending the ball flying into the air, which Adams himself then caught and ran 66 yards for the touchdown.
And with that, the entire course of the game changed. The next thing you knew, the Tigers had forced another fumble and scored another touchdown to tie it at 17-17, and just a few minutes later, C.J. Spiller dashed 72 yards for another score to make it 24-17 Clemson. The Tigers wound up winning 27-17 in one of the most dramatic momentum swings you’ll ever see.
How big was that fumbled field-goal snap? Chances are, if Wake had added three points there, Clemson would not have been able to come back. The Tigers would have choked away their chances at an ACC title yet again, and the Deacons would be off to their first 6-0 start since 1944. Instead, Tommy Bowden gets to leave Groves Stadium with a smile on his face for once and Wake has got to be absolutely heartbroken. Wow.
...aaaaaand just how charmed is Tommy Bowden's existence right now?
I don't think Tommy Bowden is that much better of a football coach now than he has been the past several years. But that Clemson team is catching BREAKS left and right, and breaks can make you look like a coaching genius.
I'll just say that, for a "play of the year", that fumble recovery on the field goal was absolutely hideous. All that holder had to do was fall on the ball when he couldn't get the hold right, instead of running and trying to make a play.
I can only imagine how much heartache is in that Wake Forest locker room right now.
I'm not sure if Dr. Chuck down there has watched much of the Tigers play this year, but we have anything but caught breaks...
Multiple bad calls in the BC game has kept us from being undefeated right now... sure, blame it on the blocked XP, but that "simlutaneous catch" reversal was bogus... huge lack of evidence to over turn the INT call. And to ice it all off, on the very same play the Tigers lost the very CB that made the play to a broken foot.
That said, the Tigers really have earned this one with all of the injuries as well as every other win they have pulled of.
You're absolutely right, MBRO: that overturned INT in the BC game was a horrendous call.... it made me lose my (admittedly shaky) faith in Instant Reply in college ball. Boils my blood when I realize that call will likely keep the Tigers out of a BCS championship game. At least they're only a couple victories over GT away from their first ACC championship in a decade.
The Tigers played the worst that I've seen them play this year for the first three quarters, but with Gaines Adams fumble recovery (It looked more like a stolen basketball), they turned a corner. Wake has had their number for the past few years. I'm really happy with the win as a fan though a lot of the talking heads don't seem that impressed.
What's up with losing half the team to injury? Can we go a week without losing someone to injury? Are the Tigers deep enough to sustain this pace of personnel losses? Ugh...
Wasn't Clemson leading in everything but the score throughout the entire game? Their schedule is a weaker one, but regardless, they showed good character in coming back, even against a weak (5-0) opponent. Give them the benefit of the doubt. They created the lucky breaks, something Clemson football teams have been unable to do in the recent past.
While the field goal botch was certainly a big turnaround, the real game changing plays were the two holding calls the killed two drives deep into Clemson territory (called back a 30 yd pass play and a quartenback run both for fist downs). Clemson got kicked around for 3 quarters before Wake gave it back with those mistakes. Clemson got very lucky today.
DR CHUCK is a MORON, Tommy Bowden has shown he is a good coach a he has brought credibility to the Clemson program. Don't get angry DR. CHUCK. Tommy and his coaching staff are recruiting better and the program as added on new facilities and they are now in contention for the ACC title. DO SOME HOMEWORK DR. CHUCK.
I was absolutely shocked that the INT was overturned in the BC game. From what I could see, the receiver did not have control of the ball before he hit the ground. I don't know what kind of "indisputable evidence" the referee saw, because I didn't see any.
Even so, Clemson could have and probably should have won the BC game when they were 1st and Goal from the 2 in 1st OT and down by only 3.
At this point Clemson has a reasonably good chance to get to the BCS, but they will probably have to beat GT twice. However, GT and Clemson can both beat anyone and lose to anyone in any given weekend, so it's far from over, although GT has a clear advantage in the Coastal Division.
As for Wake, they will be bowling this year. If nothing else, they will beat UNC to become bowl eligible. Wake played well, but they gave the game away in the end. We'll see if Wake is for real next week when they play NC State.
clemson has caught breaks all year. Being a Nole fan I remember when we were tied 20-20 late in the game and you guys fumbled inside the 20 yard line and the noles got the ball but they said "duel" possesion so you got the ball back. So I guess that was karma for the BC game? Clemson is a great team and deserves to get some success but they have gotten some breaks
well by rule if a offensive player and a defensive player both have possesion or "duel possesion" then the possesion goes to the offense no matter what, so that is not a break, that is a rule plain and clear.
I agree that Adams completely changed the outcome of the game and enabled Clemson to turn it on and escape.
I believe Clemson has the fastest team speed in the ACC, and likely the most talent.
There are two areas of concern: 1st, the special teams play, not going to cut it against a quality opponent (i.e GT or VT, for that matter NCST, MD or SC), and 2nd, OC Spence may be getting a little too predictable. Defenses are picking up keys and tendencies.
Still, the team speed, skills, and tenacity looks pretty good; particularly overcoming all of the injuries.
Enjoy it while you can, Cheetahs. Like the other baby Bowden (Chuck), Tommy will have superior athletes, will motivate, but fail miserably on the x#s and o#s at some point. He will lose to a couple of games he should have won. Enjoy the Wattsamtta U Bowl, the East Idaho Potato Bowl, the Eastern North Carolina Pig Poop Bowl, or wherever you end up this year.
BC game is over, forget the awful call. I'll believe Clemson is great when the season is over and playing in a BCS game. Untill then... I'll just take the games one at a time just like they should. Sometimes they have a tendency to believe what they read or hear. Also, if Proctor keeps throwing off his back foot and floating the balls there won't be any celebrating in Pickens County later this year or next.
Having been at the Wake/Clemson game, I can safely say that there wasn't a top 25 team present.
In regards to this play being a play of the year or something, are you kidding me? Granted, it did turn the tide of the game, but it wasn't because of a great play, or a tremendous display of athleticism, it was because some poor kid panicked and didn't know what to do. So rather than fall on the ball he let himself get stripped of it.
Clemson was impotent for the first 3 quarters. Why? It wasn't because Wake was dominating the game, they mustered only 3 quick scoring drives, hardly a blowout. Furthermore, it wasn't because of the environment. Wake's stadium holds roughly 36000 people, of which, 10000-12000 were Clemson fans, and considerably louder than their Wake counterparts. Clemson's offense is lackluster at best. Wake was never able to get any pressure on the QB, and yet with all of the time in the world, he was still unable to move the ball consistently. At times he stayed in the pocket with the ball for 6-7 seconds and was still unable to get the ball in the end zone. Once Clemson started moving the ball in the 4th quarter, Wake's defense was down a starting CB and DT, to ejection and injury.
Perhaps Clemson just didn't bring their best game to Winston. I can't say, as this is my first good look at Clemson this year. But, I can assure you that neither Clemson nor the botched-field goal are much to be celebrated today.