My observations from how the game went:
1. Penalties/undisciplined play hurt a lot. I don't want to debate whether or not targeting happened, but two of their TD drives shouldn't have happened due to penalties extending drives. In the 2nd quarter, obviously we have the Wade targeting giving them a first down when they should have been punting from deep in their own side of the field. But then we give them another 15 for DPI and as they pick on Wade's replacement march down the field and score. Their third TD of the game was a similar story. It was the third quarter and we had pinned them on the 1. They get a first down but then two incompletions (both could have been intercepted as our DBs were in better position to make a play than either receiver) and a stuffed run later and it's again 4th and a lot from deep on their side of the field. We then go after the punt (the call was fine btw) and hit the punter (he was in the air from the kick so no he didn't lean into the hit). It isn't the first time we have committed a similar penalty going for a block and it isn't the first time an opponent has scored after costly penalties on a drive that should have been over.
2. Play calling was too conservative to close the 1st half. It is 16-7 with 4 minutes left and we have the ball. It seemed like we ran on first down most of the game and it was mostly for short gains or nothing. It seemed like after the TD by Clemson Ryan Day just wanted to end the half, so we go 3 and out, and they get the ball back and drive right down the field on us. I felt like our defense was in prevent mode which ends up never working out. Then we get the ball back after they score again, and we do the same thing and go 3 and out. Fortunately Clemson lets the half end at that point. I think we needed to keep punching after their first TD, and if we do, even if we don't score there we can run the clock out and keep a 9 point lead into half time. After the way they scored their first TD, there is no way we should have let them get the ball back there especially with them receiving the 2nd half kick.
3. Justin Fields made the right decision on the last play of the game. However, it wasn't the right play. When Clemson scored their TD with 1:43 left, I remember thinking they gave us too much time. We responded by marching down the field 10 yards at a time and eating up clock in the process. When we had 40 some second left from the 23 and we go endzone, I think that was also leaving too much time on the clock. Others had mentioned that Dobbins was open, and he was. What I don't understand is why the home run was the first option on that play with the time remaining that there was. Seems like with two timeouts left you want to get the first down and let time dwindle then try to score the TD with 4 plays from inside the 10. Even if Olave keeps his route and makes the catch in stride (the DB had to reach to pick it, and Olave had the step on him, so the ball was placed correctly for Olave to catch it uncontested) I think 43 seconds is a long time to give Clemson another shot at a game winner given how all of their TDs were the result of quick drives full of big plays. Maybe we stop them this time, but we had just given one up so do you bank on that?
I guess I'm still not over this one and it will take some time for the sting to lessen, but I really wish we had this one back or the chance to replay it. And if we had Wade for 4 quarters I don't think it ends up close, at all. But kudos to them for doing what they needed to win, even if it literally took everything going their way to happen. I hope LSU stomps them.