Let’s talk about the officials.
Officials are a part of football, and they have an effect on the outcome of each game.
We can all agree on this without resorting to name-calling or concocting a conspiracy theory.
And officials, just like players or coaches, can have bad games. Jeff Flanagan’s crew, regularly one of the best in the ACC, had a tough game on Saturday at Clemson.
After re-watching the Tigers’ 24-17 overtime win over the Wolfpack, the issue wasn’t that Flanagan’s crew called the first 13 penalties of the game on N.C. State. Six of those penalties were for false starts by the offensive line, so that’s not evidence of an orchestrated effort to help one team or hurt the other.
The problem was the consistency of calls. The only thing we can ask from officials, in any sport, is consistency. Mistakes are going to happen, and more and more, those mistakes are able to be cleaned up by video review.
Coaches, players and fans have to live with mistakes. What officials have to do is try their best to be consistent. That’s much easier said than done, but Flanagan’s crew struggled with this on Saturday.
For sure, Flanagan’s crew got far more calls correct than wrong. And there were plenty of officiating decisions that affected Clemson, Dravious Wright’s first-quarter hit of running back Wayne Gallman tops that list, but two no-calls, in particular, hurt N.C. State.
On Clemson’s second possession in the first quarter, N.C. State cornerback Mike Stevens was flagged for pass interference on Clemson receiver Mike Williams. Stevens made enough contact with Williams to warrant a penalty. That third-down call helped extend the drive which ended with a Clemson field goal.
On N.C. State’s next series, Clemson’s Ryan Carter bumped receiver Bra’Lon Cherry before the ball got to Cherry. The pass attempt ended with an interception by Clemson’s K’Von Wallace.
If it’s a foul on Stevens, then it should have been a foul on Carter. You can’t change the interpretation of the rules from series to series.
On N.C. State’s second possession of the second half, on third-and-goal from the Clemson 19, Clemson safety Van Smith grabbed the facemask of N.C. State fullback Jaylen Samuels after Samuels caught a screen pass at Clemson’s 18-yard line.
N.C. State should have been given a first down at Clemson’s 9. There was no flag on the play. Christian Wilkins subsequently blocked Kyle Bambard’s 37-yard field goal.
Two field goals, six points. Given N.C. State’s kicking, those are valuable points in a tight game.
You can’t call every penalty nor can you expect the officials to get every call right. But you can expect the officials to be consistent and that simply wasn’t the case on Saturday at Clemson.
A weekly review of who’s trending:
↑ UNC: All props to Larry Fedora’s team. The Tar Heels went 2-0 in the state of Florida with impressive wins at Florida State (37-35) and Miami (20-13). Virginia Tech’s loss at Syracuse also opens the door for the Tar Heels to repeat as Coastal Division champions.
↑ SYRACUSE: The Orange picked up their first October win since 2014 with a 31-17 upset of Virginia Tech. Dino Babers’ first ACC win gives the Orange (3-4) new hope for a bowl bid.
↑ MICHIGAN: Everything is coming up Harbaugh! The Wolverines didn’t play this week but jumped Clemson in the AP top 25. That 78-0 win over Rutgers really was a marvel. Nov. 26 cannot get here fast enough.
↓ NOTRE DAME: More proof there’s such a thing as a “Wolfpack hangover.” A week after losing in a hurricane at N.C. State, the Fighting Irish lost at home to a reeling Stanford team with Wake Forest High School’s Bryce Love (129 rushing yards) filling in admirably for Christian McCaffrey at running back.