28-7 Loss At Duke Makes Clemson Football Upset In Season Opening

The opening of the 2023 season on Monday night remained disastrous for Clemson football with a fall of 28-7 to Duke. After 2004, Clemson’s loss to Duke on Monday was the first loss. Even after the inclusion of a quarterback Cade Klubnik and offense under coordinator Garrett Riley, the entire team was unbalanced from the very first drive. Jeremiah Lewis, Duke safety, made a third-down interception that ended the 11-yard opening drive of the five-play.

After that, Clemson Football became aware of sorts of offense. Klubnik, who did well several times earlier, was out of his protection and got into a sack in the 2nd quarter. The Tigers made most of the first half worthless and getting open trouble was visible on Clemson’s side. Clemson did only four out of their six drives in the first half.

Clemson tried much to put their drives together in the second half. However, they fell apart while coming close to scoring. Even being inside the Duke 5-yard line, the Tigers seemed to constantly be aimless in their drives. The first, in which Will Shipley and Klubnik botched a handoff and Duke’s recovery occurred, resulted in a Blue Devils three-and-out. However the second, in which Phil Mafah made an aimless run near the goal, allowed Duke to have a 21-7 win over Clemson.

Clemson Struggles for Defense

The Tigers were in the game due to Clemson’s defense. However, the defense was not not prominent. Riley Leonard, who threw for 175 from the 98-yard line, made Clemson have a double threat. After escaping a near sack of Barrett Carter, he broke off from a 44-yard line that helped Duke be ahead of Clemson in the 3rd quarter too.

The defense made Clemson have limited game damages. However, overall, their performance in the game was not inspiring. It is clear from Duke’s three touchdowns on the ground. Clemson were successful in managing two tackles for loss - from Jeremiah Trotter Jr at the linebacker and Sheridan Jones at the corner.

Team Blunders on Both Sides

Clemson’s offense faced issues in getting into the red zone. Due to which, Clemson asked its special teams to step in. Linebacker Wade Woodaz won over a muffed punt that Jalon Calhoun of Duke made. This recovery enabled the offense and Klubnik of Clemson took over the Duke 18.

It was a 2-yard swing pass to Will Shipley, junior running back, when Clemson made a touchdown for the first time in this game. Further, it was the first touchdown reception for Shipley in his career. That was the bright spot for Clemson team members. The team made some errors, especially in the 2nd quarter when Antonio Williams opted to field a punt.  

The worst were two botched field goals. Wesley Williams at Duke defensive end blocked the 41-yard attempt that Freshman kicker Robert Gun III did in the first quarter. If there were no blockage, the game would have a tie at 3. In the 3rd quarter, Clemson tried another field goal instead of getting into the red zone. No use of this chance gave a hand on to Williams at the 23-yard attempt.

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