Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Dabo Goin Full Dabo: Co-Coordinators

Dabo did not disappoint, as soon as he beats SC and feels he has the clout, he goes full Dabo again. I was told 4 years ago that him having to fire Napier stung him, because that last season with Billy was really a co-coordinator system between himself and Napier, and that he wanted people to think that he was an offensive coach who knew playcalling. That experiment failed miserably and Billy was thrown out. I was told before he even got the interim tag that Bowden felt he'd never make a great OC and that he'd never get that job after Spence left, but that one is water under the bridge now.

All these things worry me to death again now that Dabo has appointed dual-coordinators, neither of which could really stand up to him in staff meetings.

Despite what TI has thrown out there about TCU's co-coordinator system and some other successful ones, the majority of these situations do not actually work. Usually it fails and one guy leaves the school. Only one man can call plays at the pace Clemson runs, just one. There's time to discuss it between drives, but if you dick around and start arguing about calls in the game, you don't have any tempo. So really, this is Co-OC in name only, and an excuse to protect one while giving both fictitious promotions and raises. The question is who will call plays, and which one is Dabo really trying to protect?

Jeff has been on everyone's radar as a candidate, not Elliott. I have heard several conversations about the staff and Chad's opinion of each of them, but I will not share that info here. I'll only share the one i've stated before, which is that he and Caldwell won't miss each other. He took Joe Craddock, a GA who held the signs on the sidelines, as his OC. He didn't take Tyler Carlton, who he brought from Tulsa here. That should tell you something. No matter which way you slice it, it doesn't make much sense to not even go out and interview a few guys. I know Dab's talked to some on the phone and bounced some ideas off his other assistants, but no interviews. Given the gravity of the decision, and that we could have an team capable of a Playoff run when Watson is a Jr, I just cannot understand.

Clemson has the most talented QB we've ever had coming back, and a bevy of talent to go with him. We have shown that we'll pay the best in the country for an OC. Together that means we can basically go out and have our pick of coordinators. They'd be lining up to get a chance to coach Watson.

And he kept it internal. You don't promote a relatively unknown RB Coach to Co-OC for no reason. You don't let a Co-OC keep the Recruiting Coordinator job, and you don't have a guy who feels that he is worthy of the full job that wants to share the title and the pressure that goes with it. One gets scapegoated if it stumbles, and it may not be the one you really think.

I think the popular idea among all of us was that JS would be getting the job. What if JS got passed over completely? What would he do? Probably leave. What if Tony got passed over? Probably nothing at this point in his young career, unless Morris actually wanted him to be his OC. It makes you think about the true motivation.

But even though I went to school with both of these guys, along with Dameyune Craig while I was at LSU, I would not approve of either taking the job at this point. I want someone with a hard edge. Rich Rod was a dick at Clemson and Chad had no problem putting his foot in some ass here. I don't see any of them as having enough "asshole" in them to take the job. I see a Napier situaiton all over again.

Dabo sinks or swims with this decision.


Monday, December 1, 2014

Clemson pushes SC to 6-6, and The Chad Leaves for SMU

Dabo finally beat Spurrier again, and we totally dominated the line of scrimmage, which is what really made me happy about the game. Clemson's DL, especially DeShawn Williams, blew them up. Several times I saw Williams and Grady blow the Center/Guard 5 yards deep before he could even straighten himself up some. They had to hold Vic Beasley on every other play to keep him from planting Dylan's ass, typical of SEC refs to miss such calls in interconference matchups.

I doubt many of you noticed, but Clemson's Jet Sweep Toss play was actually blocked differently than we usually do, and this new front scheme was integral in its success this weekend. Usually we'll pull the playside Guard/TE outside towards the play, or simply run a OZ/stretch scheme to block it. This time we changed that, and messed up the keys for their LBs. I didn't notice it live, but a coaching friend pointed it out, and now that I've rewatched the game I can see how lethal it was to them. The play works off our normal jet motion + Power O play, where the Guard pulls over to playside and the RB follows him. We run a jet motion to confuse the LB, but the Guard tells where the ball is going.

On the new play, we pull the playside Guard away from the play. As I've written numerous times before, the Linebacker's keys are the Guard/RB and ball. It forms a triangle read. If his main key is the Guard, he'll go where the Guard goes, because naturally the Guard would be blocking as a lead blocker for someone else, as in the Power O play we run often. So the playside LB, in this case often Skai Moore, is reading the Guard, and thinks "power O" when the Guard pulls towards the backside. The LB then flows over there towards him.

Clemson released the TE towards the playside in an Arc release, to take out the safety or OLB. The WR to that side simply blocks, I never noticed a crackback. The playside OT veer releases inside, leaving the DE unblocked. The OT then seals off the backside pursuit, which was often the LB trying to recover when he saw the ball not going behind the pulling Guard.

When the OT down blocks, the DE is supposed to follow the Block-down-step-down rule and squeeze the OT further inside. Theirs never did, and just stood there while Artavis Scott ran right by them. With the backside sealed and an arc block by the TE and a block by the WR, he went a long way.

Watson was awesome, Gallman ran his ass off, the defense played great, so that's all I can say. I'm happy that we won and don't care about anything else right now. I want the bowl win to get to 10 but I don't care so long as I can flip off every cockfan I run into and say "From Top 10 to 6-6!".

As I'd hinted at on twitter two weeks ago, Chad Morris to SMU happened. While I have my issues with Chad's playcalling in big games, and I think the "we will be a good power run team" stuff is bull, I do think he's the best OC Clemson has ever had. I loved RRod and I love Chad Morris. We will miss him. Expecting us to be as awesome next year on offense as we would be with him seems farfetched. If you lose a good coach and possibly end up changing the whole system, you're going to take a step back. I hope he has great success and can go full Ron Meyer out there at SMU.

Knowing what I know about Morris' issues with Batson's S&C program, I highly doubt he takes a single member of our S&C staff with him. He complained to Dabo after his first year and has complained about it since.

Also as I expected, he took Justin Stepp with him to SMU as WR Coach. Stepp was previously a GA here and Chad promised he'd take him wherever he went as HC after he left for App State. As I recall, Stepp also had a money issue with Dabo where they didn't see eye-to-eye, and Chad took up for Justin. GAs make in the $20K range while they work on their Masters.

While I believed that Jeff Scott would end up going with Chad Morris if he went to a P5 or some other fairly big school, I have heard that he was going to stay. For those who are stupid and haven't thought of coaching as your life career, let me break it down for you as to why he'd ever consider leaving. If you want to be a HC someday, you need to cut your teeth somewhere else, get exposed to new ideas and philosophies, and become a well-rounded coach. If you think you've found someone who can teach you something, then you should go with him wherever he goes. I know Clemson is fond of promoting WR coaches to HC, but that just doesn't happen often. Maybe some who feel that any Clemson coach is awesome and would be awesome as HC don't think that way, but those people are the trailer park fans who don't know anything about football. If I was underneath Saban as a DL coach, I'd go with him wherever he went until I felt I was knowledgeable enough and ready to make my own way. The smartest move for yourself is to go with the smart coach who can teach you everything, then come back home later. If I were Jeff and Chad was going to Florida, or even Tulsa, I'd go with him, learn a few years, eventually take over playcalling, learn how to run a whole program, and then go off on my own. Maybe then I'd take a lateral move as OC as Chad did with us from Tulsa to prove it was me and not Chad. Maybe by then I could get the Clemson HC job if Dabo left. All Clemson fans would accept me if I had proven offensive coaching skills.

That's the thinking and most of you with professional skills and who have thought about your lifelong career understand that.

SMU is a little different in that I think its very hard to win there, so I'd think twice about it and maybe stay put, but that is the thinking going on here, and so I wouldn't fault Jeff Scott either way. I'd wish him luck and hopefully he'd be able to come back someday.

And if Clemson loses a few recruits, then they really werent committed to the school anyway. Alabama and Auburn and Georgia and etc. etc. lose assistants every year and still put up great classes don't they? If you lose a coach thats not an excuse.

We may end up promoting Jeff to OC and turning the RC job over to Elliot too. The concern here for me is that Dabo will go full Dabo in the offense like he did Billy Napier. Chad Morris had no problem telling Caldwell some guys sucked and did the same to Dabo Swinney. He wouldn't let Dabo meddle in his playcalling. Is Jeff that confident in himself and will he stand up to Dabo when he dabs? Dabo is no offensive genius despite what he may think of himself. We've seen what happens there.

Dabo is being very quiet about it all, so I havent heard much at all. All I know for a fact is that I'd interview some guys before I decided. I'd call Rhett Lashlee at Auburn, who doesn't call plays but who has coached this system for many years after having played in it under Gus. I'd call Philip Montgomery at Baylor, which is an absolutely lethal offense that scares the shit out of a defensive guy like myself. I'd call Scott Frost at Oregon, because I think that option style will destroy the ACC's defenses. I'd call up Lincoln Riley at ECU, because God knows Clemson has never once stopped a true Air Raid team. I'd look at Mike Norvell at Ariz State, Spavital at A&M, and Kurt Roper, who walked into a lose/lose situation under Muschamp at Florida.

If I got my wishes, Pearman would move off into an admin role so we can finally get a recruiter in Charlotte and finally get a decent ST coach who could find someone besides AH to return punts.

My other wishlist if the right coaching dominoes fell would be to get Brandon Streeter here as a QB position coach, or even Bobby Bentley (who is a total prick but can coach his ass off) at the same spot.

On defense, Venables shot down the A&M rumor, but I said from the start that this wasn't happening anyway unless he really just wanted to move back out west. He's proved his chops at DC and is ready for the right HC job. Its only a matter of time before he gets offered one he wants. I know Iowa State called to speak with him, but would you go there? If your goal is to get a plum job, you'd pick somewhere a little easier to win at. If he stays, he's getting a raise from the money Chad just left behind, but he won't be here after 2 more years, I'd bet money on that. I'm biting my nails on this one for a few weeks as the coaching carousel takes shape, because our D is going to lose a lot and we'll take a big step back next season, and I don't want to be installing a new scheme too.








Monday, November 17, 2014

House Of Horrors: Atlanta

Probably not being fair because we've won a Peach Bowl and beat Auburn down there, but we haven't looked good at Bobby Dodd in quite some time, and the same thing happened this weekend just as we feared.

I told many people that the clock was ticking on us with Stoudt playing QB. We were going to lose with him sooner or later. Clemson fans bitched at me for saying so on twitter a month ago, so what do you folks think about him now? Stoudt is a terrible QB. You don't like that I'd say so? Too damn bad. I always call it like I see it. He's worse than Proctor ever was.

As soon as Watson went down, I knew it was over. I had hope for a bit, but it was gone by halftime. Dabo knew it, thats why he didn't bother calling TO at the half. With Watson, we beat GT. Without him, its a loss. 

I'm not going to come down too hard on other sites that reported a torn ACL for Watson before the MRI, but with him being able to walk off unaided, I would not have called that out as the actuality until we got the MRI back. If he was carried off, I might have called it myself. I initially thought it was a bad sprain or MCL (which you see guys walk off with), but I couldn't argue that an ACL wasn't a good possibility based on what we were hearing. A lot of doctors would speculate it was ACL based on the apparent severity, but I would say you should never definitively state it was one thing or another until Clemson officially released it.

Thats not to say you should always wait til Clemson says something, because they're hiding Stoudt's left shoulder problems. They knew about Kyle Parker's shoulder blade problem and hid that as well, and they've repeatedly told us guys were 100% only to find out they are more like 60%, so...

Anyway, having Watson as a possibility means we could actually win the SC game. Without him, its a loss, and I'd pick the bowl as a loss too. This offense stinks without Watson. I understand that the QB makes it go, but that the offense is so inept without Watson is squarely on the coaching staff. The offense is so pitiful that I can barely stand to watch them.

Its a shame that Stoudt stinks so bad because it really hurt one of our best defenses in my memory, i thought they handled the option very well. They stopped the dive. We got busted in coverage a few times, and I was disappointed in Alexander on a few of those, but they played well enough to win the game if the offense hadn't pissed down their legs.

Also, FF and I are now thinking of building a new site. I think we'll do something a little different and use a message board along with a front page which would include a few periodic articles, not the daily posting schedule that we set on STS.




Friday, November 14, 2014

Its Option Time Again

I must say that I don't miss having to correct people's perceptions of the triple option as a gimmicky or archaic offense and that Johnson is a know-nothing idiot anymore. Usually you see at least 10 message board idiots saying that we'll hold GT under 200 yards rushing and that they couldnt beat us in any year in which we had a decent defense. Its this time of the season that you find out which Clemson fans really know something about football at all, and thus it depresses me more to see how many are stupid when it comes to the option.

Its not going to shock anyone for me to say I predicted this as a loss with Stoudt starting at QB. I mean, we can't beat up Wake or BC, and neither of those offenses are worrisome, with Stoudt in there, so why would you think we'd beat a good offensive team that can score big plays just as fast as Clemson with him? Then add on to that the fact that we haven't looked great in Atlanta in about a decade's time. The history doesn't matter in the pro football arena, but I do think it does in college for some reason (or we'd have beaten UNC in the Dean Dome by now).

And make no mistake, GT is going to score on us. They are going to hit a couple 40+ yard runs in this game. They are going to crack Steward and Goodson and both safeties, and cut block the hell out of us in the alleys. I do not think this offense is as potent as what we faced in 2009, but I think Thomas is the most capable QB he's had in Atlanta of being able to run the entire system at you.

Also, for some reason PJ calls a better game in Atlanta than he does elsewhere. When i watched tape of his strategies in DV, he does dumb stuff, out of the blue, for no obvious reason. He'll go for it when he should kick. He'll abandon things that worked fine, which he did two years ago in DV and on the previous trip up before that against Steele. In Atlanta, he doesn't do the same things.  He calls better games.

So no, I don't think this will be a pretty defensive performance, even with one of the best defenses in the last 25 years at Clemson. We'll give them 250 yards, maybe more in garbage time. If we're aggressive like we were last year in the front 7, and hammer the shit out of that QB, they won't outscore us with Watson. Even our shit OL should be able to protect him enough to bomb their terrible secondary.

Watson has been running and throwing in practice for weeks, the hand hasn't been an issue since about 1 week after the surgery.

If DW struggles though, better break out some hard stuff.


Monday, October 27, 2014

At some point you just don't know what to say about it anymore

I just want to thank Brent Venables (Skeletor) for knowing how to coach a defense. I loved the 2009 defense and the pressure that that front 4 could get, and it was really an elite defense pared with a below average offense, but it had some weaknesses at LB. This defense doesn't have a glaring weakness like that one did, and its right up there with the best defenses we've had at Clemson since Brother Bill left town. They might even give the 89-91 defenses a run for their money.

And Mack Alexander doesn't get nearly the credit in the press he deserves. I always say that if you don't hear of a CB during a game, that means that he's playing great, and this kid can flat out cover. He doesn't get the INTs, but he can play M2M with the best. Whenever they zoom out and you can see someone blanketed, its always Alexander stuck to his hip, playing the ball correctly instead of the receiver.

But once again, our offense has stunk it up and leaned on the defense to win them the game. Lakip and Gallman get my game ball.

When i went to the spring game, the team I saw looked like a 7-5/8-4 team. I didn't tell anyone but FF about that because they'd just bitch about me being negative. If Stoudt starts all games this season, I think we would've wound up being 7-5. He has simply reached Proctor-level. His fundamentals are not there. They were there last year, and they looked better than this in the spring game, but they aren't there now. His feet are happy. He's not setting and throwing, and the zip is just off. The accuracy is poor.We have never said that Stoudt had a great arm, but he's consistently late to the flats. He does not read his coverage, at all. He's locked on to his #1 and forces that too often, then takes his 3rd read (the checkdown) and puts that receiver in a bind because the throw is too late - receiver gets killed as soon as he catches it, or gets no yards.

And our OL, woof. Wayne Gallman ran his ass off with no help. Stoudt barely has time to make a read even when he doesn't lock on the primary. After Norton went down I was glad to see Webster move over, because anyone should be able to block better than Norton there. Webster isn't good enough to play full time either, but he's not as awful as Norton.

Davis playing Tackle points to a failure in recruiting tackles and coaching them. He can't move well enough to play Guard in this system and now he's playing Tackle?, where you have to move your feet even more? Gore should be able to play by now and someone should've properly put a foot in Battle's ass.

And as good as Watson is, getting Hyatt and Fruhmorgen in there next season won't fix it next season, they may fix it in 2016, not as true freshmen tackles. If you think its miraculously going to get better i'd like to know what you smoke daily. If we havent had a line in years that could a) consistently drive block and b) pass block, what makes you think the same coaches+Batson are going to fix it in one year with a few recruits? One year fixes happen at WR or RB where there is less development required, not OL.

I said after BC that if this team played anyone worth a shit while Watson was out, we'd lose. I caught a lot of flak for it, but after 3 straight games of terrible play, those same people are coming around to my concerns. Its a good thing Syracuse and WF are two terrible offenses and would need significant help from us to win the games.

If Watson is out for GT we will lose the game. Our defense will play well but they'll be on the field too much by the 4th Q and will miss tackles by then, and PJ doesn't do the stupid shit in Atlanta that he does in DV. Their offense has improved this year yet wouldn't be able to beat Clemson with us having a great defense, but I wouldn't predict the 91 defense to win if the offense couldn't score.

Thankfully from what I've heard from practice is that its a soft cast on Watson's hand and that he can throw nerf balls already just fine, so we should have him. If we do I think we'd win by probably 2 TDs, but I don't expect any victory in Atlanta to be pretty. They never are.






Monday, October 13, 2014

Louisville: A damned debacle.

So much fail in one game. It felt like a Dabo-Napier offense. Chad Morris still can't get it together against good defenses. I'll let that stand as the overarching issue, leading to our terrible OL and QB play from the whole day. Somebody was reading too much into who Louisville's defense had faced and not enough about the skill they do possess. I was not one of those people reading Louisville's defensive stats and simply pointing out that they hadn't played a great offense - they hadn't - I watched them play earlier this year and its a pretty good group.

Strong recruited well and coached better, but Grantham will screw them up, and Petrino won't recruit defensive players, so I think this is the best D they'll have under his tenure, but they can play right now.

I will address the scoring first, since us not being able to win at FSU by lining under center at the 1 yard line remains firmly on my mind. Clemson should've been able to do the same thing Saturday late in the game and been up by 10, and instead of doing that, they decided to once again get in the Gun, call a Power O, and not get one fucking yard again. This led to the game still being in doubt down to the last second because of one slip in coverage, one slip after being outstanding basically all day, and our coaches would bear 100% of the blame because they can't get their shit together.

Heres what you do at the 1yd line, 1) get under Center, 2) call a Wedge play. If they beat that then you don't deserve to win the game.

Heres what you dont do at the 1: 1) Get cute and try stupid shit. 2) call a Power O play when your Center has been getting his ass beat all goddamn day by the backside DT when you called Power, 3) don't have a guard who can get his fat ass over into a hole and knock someone backwards.

On the Power O, the backside Guard pulls to the playside and the RB/QB follows. If the backside G is covered by a DT, then the Center has to block back or the backside OT has to cut him or somehow take him out (which means somebody like Suckinger gets to down-block on the DE, that'll work great right?). 90% of the time, its the Center blocking back. Ryan Norton is our center. /endofdiscussion. Stop calling the play until he can block. Stop calling QB Power with Stoudt altogether.

I've heard word from practice that it is Chad Morris who has a preference for the gap scheme calls, and it is Robbie Caldwell who is pushing for more zone plays. Well right now, we have no working gap calls. The Power does NOT work if you can't seal the backside DT and can't pull a Guard. If the Power doesn't work, the Counter Trey won't either. They are complimentary plays. We run a Counter H where we pull the TE behind the Guard, and we know damn well that the TEs can't block, so you can't call that one can you? We've abandoned the buck sweep, which used to be Chad's favorite run call, because we don't have two Guards who can pull and actually block anyone. One will forget to wrap around and the other will run downfield and not touch anyone.

Thus far this season its only the Zone plays that are working halfway right. Its also only the IZ because we have basically abandoned the OZ and the toss/pitch to GHop or Davidson that would compliment it.

So, essentially, our running game is a complete cluster. They insist on letting Howard actually play when he sucks, and not giving the carries to guys who could do anything with them. They call the wrong plays, and they can't block when they do have good calls.

The next issue is Stoudt. Wow that was bad. He's not that bad a player, but he reached Proctor-level Saturday afternoon. He stares at the blitzer and doesn't check to the hot read (a fault Tajh often had). He's locking on his primary and not reading the coverage. He's pressing and trying to make too much happen. His feet aren't moving. He was late to the flats, which is a rule you don't break against any good secondary. Watson lobbed one out there as well and got picked, but Stoudt knows better. If you go to the flats, you throw a bullet or you don't throw it at all.

Stoudt has regressed from last season. His fundamentals are falling off, and I think the main thing is just that he lost all confidence. UGA messed up his head, and right now I would not be surprised if we lost one of these 4-5 games coming up with him starting.

I knew our D was going to have to win us some games this year one way or another. They'll be hard pressed to win 4-5 games if Stoudt plays this bad.




Sunday, October 12, 2014

Mid-Season Sunday Thoughts


We’re halfway home.  I’ve kind of been in hibernation since the Ryder Cup debacle.  Of course I’ve been watching our Tigers and been in awe of #4 as most of you have.  I will take this opportunity to man up and say that I was wrong about Watson starting.  Padge was adamant over the summer that he would be one of the greatest in school history and would start this season.  Many others gloated over his skills.  I was of the opinion that there was no way a true freshman could learn enough of the offense and adjust to the speed of play to get significant snaps.  I figured Cole was way ahead of him in understanding the offense and the ability to use that much more of the playbook would leave him in—at least through the NC State game.  Well, I was clearly wrong.  Deshaun Watson has emerged (to date) to be the real deal.  Chad Kelly is lucky now that he got the hell out of town, because Watson is simply better.  The only others with as much hype as him in my memory include Michael Carr and Billy Luckie.  Neither did shit at Clemson.  Now we’ll see how Cole plays over the next month and wonder what will happen when Watson is back healthy.  More about Clemson Football and my other musings following the jump (too much to eat up the whole page, so click the article's title link to open).