Clemson rocked by unranked ND: ‘Really terrible day’

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Since the 2015 season, when Clemson produced the 1st of six straight College Football Playoff appearances, coach Dabo Swinney has endured difficult losses.

The Tigers have fallen in national title games, CFP semifinals and 5 occasions in the course of the common season. But arguably no defeat felt as full and deflating than the 35-14 loss Saturday to unranked Notre Dame.

No. four Clemson fell behind 28-, surrendered 263 rushing yards and permitted touchdowns on defense, offense and specific teams. The Tigers avoided their 1st shutout considering that 2003 but did not score till ten:14 remained in the game.

“This was an ass-kicking, period,” Swinney stated. “That’s what it is. Just flat-out got our tails handed to us. That’s unfortunate. It hasn’t occurred a lot, but it is occurred a handful of occasions along the way. We’ve handed out a bunch of them, as well. Tonight, we have been the bug. We got the terrible finish of that deal, and we deserved just about every second of it.”

Clemson suffered its worst loss to an unranked opponent considering that falling by 24 to NC State in 2011. Although Clemson had to rally to beat Syracuse and stay undefeated Oct. 22, the group had an further week to prepare for Notre Dame, which had fallen to Marshall and Stanford on its dwelling field.

“This was a truly terrible day and all the criticism was warranted and just must be directed at me, period,” Swinney stated. “This is a single of the most disappointing days that I’ve had as a head coach.”

Notre Dame struck 1st right after recording its FBS-major sixth punt block, which Prince Kollie returned for a touchdown. The Irish then hammered away against a Clemson defense that came in ranked No. 7 nationally against the run, permitting only three yards per carry.

Clemson quarterbacks DJ Uiagalelei and Cade Klubnik each threw interceptions that led to Notre Dame touchdowns, like an Uiagalelei throw that cornerback Benjamin Morrison returned 96 yards to the finish zone early in the fourth quarter.

“We gave up a score on offense, a score on specific teams and a score on defense, that is the 1st time that is occurred considering that I’ve been a head coach,” stated Swinney, in his 14th complete season as Clemson’s coach. “We just got out-coached in just about every facet of the game. That’s on me. It’s my duty. And I want I could say I saw it coming. We had a excellent week of practice.”

Notre Dame operating backs Logan Diggs and Audric Estime each eclipsed one hundred rushing yards against Clemson, which struggled to cover gaps and was typically sealed on the perimeter.

“Obviously, we have been not the most physical group, that is one hundred % on me, finding them ready the proper way,” defensive coordinator Wes Goodwin stated. “It was a mixture of points, guys finding knocked out of a gap, [linebackers] falling back in the incorrect gap, missed tackles as nicely. We’ll personal it and move on.”

Despite getting benched in the Syracuse win, Uiagalelei began for Clemson and completed his 1st seven pass attempts, but only for 33 yards in windy situations. He had just 41 pass yards in the 1st half and was replaced by Klubnik late in the third quarter with Clemson down 14-. Uiagalelei returned to Notre Dame Stadium, exactly where he produced his 1st profession start out in 2020 and had 439 passing yards, a record for an opposing player against the Irish.

Klubnik, who entered with Clemson at its personal 7-yard line, had his only pass try intercepted by Morrison. Notre Dame scored 3 plays later.

“Whenever you come out the game, you want to be the greatest supporter, and give all the understanding you can to my brother Cade,” Uiagalelei stated. “He’s going to be excellent. Quarterbacks, we all make blunders, but he’s going to be a excellent ballplayer. The greatest point I really like about Cade is he’s aggressive.”

Swinney stated he was attempting to spark the offense with Klubnik, who “was attempting to make a play” when he threw across his physique and was intercepted.

Uiagalelei completed with 191 pass yards, 113 in the fourth quarter, but was sacked 4 occasions in the loss.

“Thought he held the ball a couple of occasions and just took a couple terrible sacks exactly where the protection was there,” Swinney stated. “You’ve got to get rid of the ball. … I believed DJ responded. He went back in and did some great points.”

Swinney stated Clemson will evaluate personnel and other regions right after the loss but noted, “It’s not all on DJ.” Clemson hosts Louisville subsequent week with the likelihood to win the ACC Atlantic Division outright.

In 2021, the Tigers saw their streak of CFP appearances and ACC championships each finish at six.

“There’s not a single purpose that is not there for us,” Swinney stated. “I know everyone desires to win the national championship, and we never handle that. But what we do handle is attempt to win this division, attempt to win the league, the state championship and win the closer, what ever that is.

“When you do these points, you have a heck of a year.”

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