Tangible results breeding confidence for Clemson's offense

Clemson’s quest to get its offense back on track this fall started with one word: Confidence.

After a season in which everything that could go wrong seemingly did for the Tigers a season ago,

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney admitted it’s something the unit lost at some point along the way as the Tigers finished near the bottom nationally in several offensive statistical categories.

Kyle Richardson, in his first season as the Tigers’ passing-game coordinator, said coaches and players talked often in the offseason about finding it again.

But he acknowledged there was only so much talking and protecting the coaching staff could do for a group that, at some point, had to produce some tangible results.

“At the end of the day, it’s a results business,” Richardson said. “And they’ve got to go do it on the big stage, especially at Clemson.”

So far, the offense has delivered, And when it comes rediscovering that confidence, it’s happening at warp speed.

The foundation for the offense’s brisk start was laid with 41 points and 378 yards in Clemson’s opening win over Georgia Tech.

With quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei elevating his play as well as the help around him, the Tigers have continued to produce at levels rarely seen a season ago.

As a result, the Tigers rank in the top 50 nationally in yards and points. Perhaps most notably, the passing game is operating at a far more efficient level.

Clemson owns the nation’s 43rd-best passing offense through the first month of the season, a far cry from when Uiagalelei was throwing for less than 190 yards a game last season.

With the stakes raised in a top-25 road tilt at reigning Atlantic Division champion Wake Forest over the weekend, the Tigers took that tangible improvement to another level.

Uiagalelei threw for a season-high 371 yards and a career-high five scores as the Tigers finished their 51-45 victory.

The Tigers racked up 559 total yards, a number they didn’t reach all of last season.

And the offense needed all of them to help Clemson get out of Truist Field with a double-overtime win.

Clemson scored on nine of its 14 drives and got points on five of its final seven possessions, helping the Tigers erase four different deficits after halftime.

The explosiveness is making a return, too. The Tigers already have 24 plays of at least 20 yards, fifth-most in the ACC. Nobody in the conference produced less of those plays last year than the Tigers.

“We had some success against Georgia Tech,” Richardson said.

“We had some success against Furman and La Tech, but you go into a top-25 matchup on the road, and they’re the division champs.

We didn’t walk into that building with the crown. They had it, and we had to go take it away from them on Saturday.

And that’s where you’re going to start breeding this confidence, especially in the type of play that we had.”

Richardson said the next step for the offense is being consistent with its outputs, something opposing defenses will have a say in week by week.

The offense will get its stiffest point to this point Saturday against the nation’s No. 13 defense, N.C. State, which is allowing fewer than 265 yards through its first four games.

But Clemson’s offense will go into it with a different level of confidence than it’s had in quite some time.

“You can only get that from playing in a game, and you can only get it at that level that we need it to be at to go win championships playing in those types of games,” Richardson said.

“That’s what’s going to take place here on Saturday night here in the Valley against N.C. State.”

NEXT STORY

FCS quarterback rankings Fordham's Tim DeMorat takes over the top spot in Week 5