Clemson has one of the best groups of receivers in the country, but the Tigers didn’t play that way Saturday night against Duke.
Clemson had nine drops in the 35-6 victory against the Blue Devils, according to Tigers coach Dabo Swinney.
Clemson’s receivers had seven drops, while running back Travis Etienne and tight end Braden Galloway also had balls hit their hands but could not make the catch. Swinney explained the reason for the drops following Saturday’s game.
“Just a lack of focus. Trying to run with it before they catch it. It’s as simple as that. I mean the balls are dropped not with your hands, the balls are dropped with your eyes,” Swinney said. “You’ve got to finish everything with your eyes. That’s usually what happens, the last 12 inches, the flight of the ball, guys look away, they see too much. They get big eyes instead of little eyes... Finish everything with your eyes.”
Perhaps the biggest drop of the game occurred in the second quarter when freshman receiver Derion Kendrick was running wide open deep but could not haul in the pass.
Tigers quarterback Trevor Lawrence put the ball in a perfect spot, but Kendrick had the ball bounce off his hands.
“I thought his hands were low. When your hands are low you don’t have peripheral vision, you can’t see ball and hand at the same time,” Swinney said of Kendrick’s drop. “So getting his hands up, just little fundamental stuff that we can do. But the biggest thing is just guys having little eyes and being locked in with the type of focus that you have to have.”
The drops were uncharacteristic and kept the game close early as the Tigers trailed 6-0 at the end of the first quarter and led only 14-6 at halftime.
“We had 460 yards and if we catch half the drops we’re well over 500,” Swinney said. “The good news is these guys have been awesome. We’ve caught the ball well. But this was just one of those nights where we were just inconsistent. But at the end of the day you win 35-6.”
Lawrence added that he is not concerned at all about the drops moving forward.
“It’s going to happen. We’ve just got to fight through it. It’s going to happen to everyone. We’re going to have some drops. I’m going to miss some throws. We’re going to miss some blocks. It’s just how we respond,” Lawrence said. “I don’t worry. I have games where I miss throws and I hope they’re not worried about me. I trust those guys. That’s not going to change anything.”