The Clemson Tigers are looking to do the same thing they did during last year’s college football season — beat the Ohio State Buckeyes in the College Football Playoff. Trevor Lawrence and the Tigers face the Buckeyes in a CFP semifinal on Jan. 1, and while many people expect Clemson to win, Lawrence and the Tigers just received terrible news.
Trevor Lawrence and the Clemson Tigers look to beat Ohio State in the CFP again
Clemson and Ohio State first faced off in a College Football Playoff semifinal during the 2016 season. The Tigers dominated the Buckeyes, too, winning 31-0 before going on to win the national championship game against the Alabama Crimson Tide, 35-31.
However, in 2019, the two teams faced off in a semifinal again, and the game was much closer. Some maybe don’t even give Clemson credit for winning it, as there were multiple questionable calls made by the officials during the game that worked in Clemson’s favor. They did, in fact, win it, though, 29-23.
This came after the Buckeyes jumped out to a 16-0 lead in the second quarter but had to settle for three field goals and a touchdown with their first four scores. Clemson then ultimately made it 16-14 at halftime before taking a 21-16 lead in the third quarter. Ohio State then retook the lead, 23-21, in the fourth, but Clemson scored with 1:49 left to take a 29-23 lead. The Tigers then picked off Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields late in the game to clinch the win.
Trevor Lawrence ultimately had a great game against the Buckeyes, too, as he threw for 259 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 107 yards and a touchdown. This was while Fields threw for 320 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions.
Now, both teams and both quarterbacks are back in the CFP, and they play each other again for another semifinal matchup on Jan. 1.
However, the Tigers just received terrible news.
Clemson offensive coordinator Tony Elliott will miss the CFP semfinal
According to ESPN, Clemson’s offensive coordinator, Tony Elliott, will miss the semifinal against Ohio State due to COVID-19 protocols.
While it might not be Trevor Lawrence or even head coach Dabo Swinney missing the game, this still is a massive blow for the Tigers. Elliott has called plays for Clemson for the past six seasons. Since 2018, the Tigers have had one of the best offenses in the country, too. In 2018, they scored 44.3 points per game, and they then scored 43.9 per game in 2019, before scoring 44.9 this season.
This is not all Elliott has done, either, as he won the 2017 Frank Boyles Award for being the nation’s top assistant, according to Clemson’s site.
Elliott is not just a typical assistant coach/offensive coordinator. He is the best of the best, and he is now unable to be on Clemson’s sideline on Friday.
What will they do for the CFP semifinal?
With the Tigers not having the man who has called plays for them in each of the past six seasons, someone will have to step up and do something they are not comfortable doing. So, who will?
That answer is unclear so far. ESPN reports that Dabo Swinney will most likely address that during the Thursday morning press conference. Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports, though, reports that a source said that the expectation is that quarterback coach Brandon Streeter will call plays.
No matter who calls plays, though, this could certainly be a challenge for the Tigers. It could really be difficult for Trevor Lawrence, too, as he won’t have the same coach calling plays for him that always has been.
This certainly doesn’t mean that Clemson will lose in the semifinal. The Tigers still have arguably the best quarterback in the country and one of the nation’s best coaches in Swinney. They are probably even still the favorites to win. Losing Tony Elliott, though, could make winning much more difficult for the Tigers.
It should be an interesting game.
Stats courtesy of Sports Reference