No. 10 Clemson vs. Louisville

— Expect to see more pace today. Passing game coordinator Kyle Richardson said this week that the less DJ Uiagalelei thinks and reads defenses, the better. He’s not playing confidently right now and maybe the tempo is helping him out of his funk.

Richardson said Uiagalelei didn’t want to let people down, so he was looking for the perfect pitch and play. “Make decisions at full speed and roll with the punches” is the message.

Yet the tempo does not block or catch passes.

Clemson wants Uiagalelei to trust himself, his training and his reads, and trust his wide receivers and offensive line that they will do their job so he can do his job.

Against Notre Dame, Uiagalelei threw a well-placed and well-timed ball and because Joseph Ngata didn’t see it and stopped before the corner, he was chosen. It’s on Ngata. It’s hard to trust your receivers as a quarterback when they make you look bad even when you’re right.

Jordan McFadden said this week that what hinders the offense is 10 out of 11 doing their job on any given play. This was communicated to the media all last season.

Clemson has to take care of the ball. The Tigers aren’t good enough on offense or defense right now to overcome the loss of margin. Pretty staggering to see three turnovers in the first six games and then six in the last two games.

– Swinney was asked if the physical dominance of Notre Dame’s offense was the hardest part of coming to terms with Notre Dame’s loss.

“Yeah, that was the hardest part because they beat us physically,” he said. “It’s a state of mind. A mentality. The defensive mentality was nowhere where it needed to be. We’ve had other days like that during my tenure here, but you never like it when you deal with it. It’s sure that everyone shows up with the right mentality. It’s not college. Everyone’s got a job to do.

Barrett Carter said this week that guys need to stop trying to be superheroes and do their own thing.

Carter said if you’re not angry after being pushed around by Notre Dame, you shouldn’t be playing football. He called it embarrassing. This week, Swinney challenged “an alpha” to emerge on defense as a vocal leader.

But even if Clemson is of course correcting his defensive mindset, that doesn’t necessarily fix the basic fundamentals – linebackers coming out of gaps, being affected by movement or critical alignment before the snapshot, which have all been problems in several games.

***** Score Prediction…

I told a colleague earlier this week that I was planning Louisville today unless something changed between then and now. Nothing has really changed.

Swinney’s program deserves the benefit of the doubt and he got it against Syracuse and Notre Dame when losses could have been plausibly predicted.

It’s not just the way Clemson is playing both sides of the ball right now, it’s that Louisville is a legitimate game problem for Clemson. Malik Cunningham isn’t the one you want to take on the field against a Clemson defense that has struggled to stop the run, tackle consistently and limit quarterbacks that can stretch on the outside of the pocket and keep it on the reading area. On the other side, Louisville is pressing a ton and it’s not exactly a welcome sight for the Clemson offense. Wrote yesterday that Louisville has allowed just 2.67 yards per carry in its last six games. In its last three outings, Louisville has allowed less than five yards per play.

It doesn’t help that Cunningham and that Louisville team are riding a four-game winning streak, playing free and have nothing to lose, and are ready to avenge last season’s narrow loss to Clemson that ended in dramatic way.

No member of this Clemson team has ever lost at home. No member of Clemson football past or present has ever lost to Louisville.

Clemson’s 149 games since losing consecutive games in a single season is the longest active streak in the nation. Today would be Win 150.

Wouldn’t be surprised if Clemson pulls together on defense and offense, led by ground game and aided by tempo, finds success and does enough to win and even win comfortably.

But there is simply too much evidence piling up in the opposite direction.

Louisville 24, Clemson 20

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