on October 1, 2008 by in Uncategorized, Comments (0)

Clemson’s Spence blames poor execution for loss

CLEMSON — Though it appears the sky has fallen for the majority of Clemson nation since last Saturday’s 20-17 loss to Maryland, Clemson offensive coordinator Rob Spence views it as just another challenge in a game that is much greater than football.

“In my mind and the way I look at life, this is one of those times when in life you fail,” he said following Tuesday’s practice. “Sometimes you lose and sometimes you fail. I think everybody out there that competes in an arena as competitive as this has to run the risk of losing sometimes, and the risk is high because the pressure to win is so high.

“The players and coaches live with that because that’s part of the game and that’s part of what we live with.”

The Tigers (3-2, 1-1 ACC) have to live with this loss for the next eight days before heading to Winston-Salem, N.C. on Oct. 9 for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff against No. 25 Wake Forest. In knowing that, Spence called an offensive team meeting Tuesday afternoon to first apologize for letting them down against Maryland, and then to make sure they keep their heads up during this trying time.

“He said he takes the loss and you can put it on him,” running back James Davis said. “We have to do everything we can to go out and win the next one. That’s basically what he said.”

That blame Spence put on himself, however, wasn’t play-calling. Instead, it was the little things like the motion penalties, procedure penalties, illegal shifts and player substitutions that sometimes forced the Tigers to go from manageable second- and third- down plays, to second-and-long and third-and-long.

“You put yourself in a negative environment, and you can’t focus on second-and-long and third-and-long because of penalties,” he said. “When you can have positive runs like we did and keep the chains moving and stay within a manageable down and distance on third down, then it is a lot easier on everybody.

“We did quite well when we did that. When we execute the game plan, that obviously speaks for itself. When you look at the first half and the production of the first half, it was an outstanding effort by everybody.”

But the second half against Maryland wasn’t productive at all. Clemson managed just 112 total yards in the final 30 minutes with the majority of those penalties and negative plays Spence talked about taking place.

The Tigers also abandoned the running game, rushing for just 26 yards in the second half after rushing for 195 yards in the first half.

“We didn’t execute,” Spence said.

Especially on first down where Clemson averaged 7.3 yards per carry on 16 rushing plays in the opening half, but in the second half, Spence called just three rushes on first down, netting 10 yards, while calling six passing plays which resulted in five incompletions and a fumbled snap.

“In life you don’t always win, and the test is what you do when things don’t go right, when things don’t go well,” Spence said. “Do you have the internal fortitude to fight and to keep fighting when it is not right, when things aren’t going the way you want them to go? That’s the test of a man.”

A test the Tigers failed last Saturday, and now have to wait eight more days before they get the makeup.