Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Thoughts on Clemson Basketball's Program and Future

Several people have asked me via email what I think of Brad Brownell and our program following another disappointing season, so I'll take a break from retirement to share those thoughts here.

First things first, Brad is not going anywhere. Radakovich wouldn't fire Jack Leggett when it was blatantly apparent he needed to do so, he pushed the decision off and fed us a bunch of bullshit last summer about why he didn't. I don't think he wants to make the hard decisions. And, he gave Brad a nonsensical buyout to Brownell's contract like he did Hewitt at Georgia Tech (though not as bad). DRad wanted to lock up Brad through the facilities changes, and push his decision off until afterwards. So no, unless we basically finish 1-30, or Brad decides to jump ship, he'll be here until the Littlejohn changes are completed. I wouldn't be surprised if DRad is just looking to jump ship himself within 2-3 years, he seems poised to be a conference commish someday.

But coming back to the program, my opinion is that Brad Brownell is not going to be the answer here to getting us back into the NCAAs consistently. When I watch Clemson, i see a very inconsistent team, and a team that looks like it has not been coached on how to play offense at all. They don't have that offensive mindset. We're a defensive squad and that is really all we can do. It seems like the plan is to teach guys how to play defense and not teach them how to shoot, so unless we recruit a great player who can do offense by himself, we're not going to play as an offensive unit. Brad's staff is just not developing them here. Blossomgame and Grantham are the only two players I see out there who have that offensive talent. The rest of our players should be at mid-majors.

Now I will say that I do like Brownell. I supported the hire, and in the subsequent seasons I was happy to see a team that did improve fundamentally. We could never set a screen to save our lives under OP, and Brad had that fixed almost immediately. Our overall defensive fundamentals are pretty damn good most of the time, with the exception of a few lazy players like Nnoko. In all but two seasons we have looked much better by February than in November, so you can't deny that his staff is coaching them up.

I will also point out the attitude of most Clemson fans, which is that basketball does not deserve any facilities or money spent on it because it does not perform. Such an attitude proves to me why football spent 20 years in Hell, but back then it was held by the administration, and not all of us. I was harping on this stuff 5-6 years ago, and people still told me we didn't need an IPF. Now the administration spends on football, and people wised up and see that success and spending go hand-in-hand. But they don't see that spending on basketball now will help it in the future. If you think that way, then just shut up about our basketball program.  You don't even deserve to have your opinion heard. Clemson can be successful at everything, and if you know me then you know that I've always pushed for that goal.

So that Clemson is finally spending some money on Littlejohn is welcomed by me. Facilities are all about recruiting. Men's Basketball is the only other athletic program at Clemson that turns a profit, the only one. Improving facilities for football took us from Top 30 classes to now Top 10-15 classes, and improving the basketball facilities will help greatly here. Will it help as much? I'm not sure, but it will help. We aren't in a metropolitan area, we're out in the sticks a little at Clemson, so we won't ever have the natural advantages that Atlanta or Chicago would have, but we can make sure the recruits are wowed by what we show them. We haven't helped Brownell in this area and he clearly needs it.

But I have some questions, that after his term here need to be answered.
Who is responsible for the almost complete lack of talent here? I'm not excusing him just because Clemson won't spend to help him.

Who is responsible for recruiting not one dead-eye shooter for a 4/1 motion system that needs shooters? I see them at Wofford or Winthrop, why do we never have one? Have we had one since Oglesby?

Who is responsible for losing at least 1 or 2 players to transfers every winter? This is a big red flag. And why does it seem that we always need those players back a month later?

Why do we look like we haven't been coached on how to play offense in some games? Self-explanatory. Its not every week, or every moment in every game, but its often.

Who is responsible for the lack of mental toughness? lack of killer instinct? We lose a game and its like the bottom drops out from under us. Lose to ND? Then lose again and again. We look great one week, then get the next team down, and can't finish it, or vice versa, when we get down by 15 to a team we can beat, then come back and still lose because of crucial mistakes.

Who is responsible for us dropping a few games to teams we have no business in the world losing to? Look like crap against High Point? Lose to Winthrop? Lose to SC? Losing to Auburn last year basically kicked us off the NCAA bubble. What about generally looking like shit from November until ACC play starts in nearly all of his seasons as HC?

I knew when the hire went down that recruiting would determine his tenure. I thought Rick Ray was a good one there, but I know that Ray would play ball with the AAU guys, and Brad won't do it, so Ray left. I don't think Brad filled with as good a quality recruiter. I don't think the rest of the staff is very good at it either. James Johnson would've been, but VT hired him before we could get him here.

Basically what Brad needs is 2 or 3 Dabos to recruit for him, and then find an assistant who can coach offense, because Brad only seems to be able to draw up a few set plays and coach defense.

But like I said, Brad is not going anywhere until the facilities are done. They'll give him at least one year in the new LJ to show substantial improvement, and only then will a decision be made. A new coach would not want to jump into this until the new LJ is done. At that point, if Brad Brownell is fired, and I currently believe he will be, then we don't need to go cheap with the next HC. Clemson should go out and throw the money at someone who is not at a destination job.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

The 2015 Clemson Tiger Recruiting Class

Recruit - Proj. position at CU - HS - any linked film I can get - vitals - rankings from Rivals and some of our thoughts after looking at their film.

Bold indicates player signed on Signing Day, the others are already enrolled.

Shadell Bell - WR - Columbia HS, Decatur GA - 6'2 202, 4.58 40 -  film - 3* WR. Rivals#41 player in Georgia and #42 WR overall. Offers from Kentucky, Miss State, NC State, Tennessee among others. Makes good cuts, smooth in his routes, but is not a burner so he has to be good at routes to get separation. Real nice size and could play on the boundary 9 position, as he can already block. Actually dropped from a 4* ranking due to playing a very average senior season, beset by ankle and groin injuries that sidelined him half the year. Given our WR situation I expect they'll play him. Recruited by Marion Hobby and Jeff Scott.

 Kaleb Chalmers - DB/CB - Greenwood HS, SC - 5'11 180lbs, 4.45 40- film - #10 player in SC and #47 CB nationally.  Offers mainly from the local Carolinas, including SC and Tennessee. Chalmers is a good player in HS who needs polishing at the next level. Hip flex is good, speed is good, but just needs coaching up because he's not consistent. Does show good ball skills, which is a must here. Definite RS. Recruited by Mike Reed.

Tucker Israel -  QB - Lake Nona HS, Orlando FL- 6'0 195lbs.  - Film 1, 2 - No ranking in-state or nationally. Received an offer and attention from Florida, LSU, and then a bunch of 2nd tier programs. Based on his film, I'd say the 3-stars is low. He's set tons of Florida passing records. Based on the measurables, its probably right on the money, and considering that they take other things besides on-field play into these ratings, its fair. If he was two inches taller they'd be all over him; he's on the short side to ever make it to the next level. Good arm strength and is capable of making the throws in our system, and sets his feet well, but I have concerns about his deep floaters against good coverage teams. Either Israel or Bryant will RS, not both, and the one who RS's is the one you have to think will look elsewhere within 2 years. Recruited by The Chad.

Sterling Johnson - DT - Cleveland HS, Clayton NC - 6'5 288lbs.  - film, 2 - #55 DT nationally, #26 player in NC. Johnson has an impressive offer list, but I get the feeling many of these are just verbals and place-holder offers, namely Alabama, FSU, Florida, UNC, and Texas. He had tried to commit to Tennessee but they would not take him. Size is obviously ready, first step is good, but the motor...not so good. This is the one thing we look for in DL players, and he does not have it. Technique is bad. Competition he faced in Western NC isn't that good either. Definite RS. Recruited by Mike Reed.

Albert Huggins - DT  - Orangeburg-Wilkinson HS, SC - 6'2 280lbs 4.9 40 - film 2 3 - #2 player in SC, #10 DT nationally and #88 player overall. Played with Jadar Johnson at O-W. This one was really between Clemson, Georgia and SC. His dad really pushed him hard towards the SEC, and was in attendance when Clemson thumped SC, which is the day things turned in our favor. I do believe had UGA worked harder, they likely would've landed him early on. Huggins is a War-Daddy, basically unblockable inside at the HS level, and spends much of the game in the backfield. I think this is the best DT we've signed in some time. First step is good, pad level is good, strength is outstanding. He's also doing well in school academically. Huggins should crack the 5-man rotation at DT. Recruited by Marion Hobby.

Chad Smith - OLB - Dominion HS, Sterling VA- 6'4 215 4.7 40 - film - #2 player in VA, #4 OLB and #48 player nationally. His main offers are from Virginia Tech, Wisconsin, and Pitt, who were the main early suitors for his services. Had he stayed uncommitted, a lot of other teams may have followed. I'll tell you, based on his first available film, I was not impressed at all. He merely looked like the best athlete on the field. Later film shows much improvement, and he showed out well against the top competitors in the AS games. Hip flex is good, speed is fine but needs to get better and I think it can. Pad level must come down, but technique is otherwise quite good. I think he's a future tweener at SAM in our system, capable of moving to SS unless he bulks up too quickly. Likely a RS. Recruited mainly by Venables.

Van Smith - DB/S - Hough HS, Charlotte NC - 6'0 180lbs 4.5 40- film 2- #14 player in NC, #41 Safety nationally. Offers from NC State and Kansas State, but he committed very early. Played everywhere, mainly RB and DB at Hough. Speedy athlete that plays hard, but needs coaching. Hip flex is good. I expect him to RS.  Recruited by Dan Pearman.

Mitch Hyatt - OT - North Gwinnett HS, GA- 6'5 285lbs.  - film, 2, 3, 4 - #3 OT nationally, #5 player in GA and #45 player overall. Offered by everybody. Hyatt is a Clemson legacy, as his mother went to school here and his uncle, Dan Benish, played for Coach Ford. Hyatt has the frame to put on muscle, footwork is great, he's got good length and knee bend, and he uses his leverage. He keeps his pads low. You can tell that Benish and others have coached him really well. He's a real athlete playing Tackle instead of a big fat kid. He basically does everything well.The reason why he dropped from the #1 spot nationally is that he gained weight this season, and didn't carry it as well this season compared to some others. He was beaten off the edges against good competition and to the inside by quicker guys. We do believe he needs to add muscle to play at the next level and continue growing into his body. Candidate to play at least a little as a true freshman. Recruited chiefly by Tony Elliott, with Chad Morris and Robbie Caldwell.

Kelly Bryant - QB - Wren HS, Piedmont SC - 6'4 204lbs -  film, 2 3 4- Rated 4-star dual-threat QB by Rivals. #3 player in SC, 11th-ranked Dual Threat QB nationally. Early on, he was ranked in the top 150 players nationally, but has been fighting health concerns throughout his HS career. Gets good spin on the ball, and good arm strength for our system. Really makes a lot of big plays with his legs, though he's not a speed burner at the college level. Most of his HS tapes are just big bombs or runs. His cousin is Martavis Bryant. He ran the offense for a heavily-run-oriented Abbeville before going to Wren for his Jr/Sr seasons, due to Academic reasons. I'm expecting Bryant to get the 2nd string job, but if he doesn't, watch for him to RS. Technically Kelly is a Jeff Scott recruit.

Jake Fruhmorgen - OT - Plant HS, Tampa FL - 6'5, 282lbs.  - film - #5 OT nationally, #15 in FL and #73 nationally. Offered by everybody, though Florida and Bama were the main competition early on, and his dad played at Bama. He's tall, carries his weight well, and his feet are really good. He shuffles them into his pass set very well without taking too big a step that would make him bend at the waist or lunge at pass rushers. Sometimes his pads are a bit high, but this is normal for a 6'5 guy in HS. It appears his HS runs a mostly-pass offense, because you just don't see enough of him in the dirt and drive blocking to get a real feel for that part of his game. At least not from anything I see on Hudl. I suspect he'll need to put on some more mass, but this is the type of OT you'd want to run a zone read with. He can get to that 2nd level pretty quickly. Candidate to play at least a little as a freshman. Recruited by Tony Elliott.

Zach Giella - OG -Augusta Christian HS,Augusta GA- 6'5 300lbs.  - film, 2 - #49 player in GA, #60 OG nationally. Offered by Wisconsin, LSU, the Mississippi's and SC.  Giella is a tweener for Guard or RT, and it depends on his weight and footwork where he ends up, but after watching more film on him I think he'll end up at Guard. RT might be where he starts out. His feet aren't completely fluid like Fruhmorgen or Hyatt's films show, but he has enough of a mean streak in him that he tends to finish blocks. He screws up when he straightens himself up and lets a defender get in close under his pads, because then they can turn him. In all, he's a bit more of a project and definite RS. Giella was recruited by The Chad.

Noah Green - OG - Boiling Springs HS, Spartanburg SC - 6'4 283lbs 5.03 40 - film - #8 player in SC and #39 OG nationally. Committed early on, but had offers from ECU, NC, SC. Both parents attended Clemson. I have seen Green play in person a couple times, and I was not wowed, but he is a big kid with good strength and pretty good feet. Sometimes lets defenders get in and knock him off balance. Definite RS. Recruited by Jeff Scott with Robbie Caldwell.
Austin Bryant - SDE - Thomas Cty Central HS, Thomasville GA - 6'4 251lbs.- film -  4* SDE. #13 player in GA, 149 overall nationally, and 11th ranked SDE nationally. Offered by just about everyone in the southeast, including Florida, FSU, LSU, ND, A&M, SC. Played with Adam Choice in HS, and grew up a UGA fan. Plays with good pad level, seems to understand leverage. We've been harping on Clemson not getting enough high-quality DEs for some time now, and Bryant is that. He fills an immediate depth need on the Strongside, and we do expect him to get a taste on field this fall. Recruited by Dan Pearman.

Deon Cain - WR - Tampa Bay Tech School, Tampa FL - 6'1 190lbs, 4.4 40. film, 2, 3 ,4 - #4 WR, #6 in FL, and 17th-ranked player nationally. He was an early FSU lean with offers from Florida, Bama, Miami, UGA, Nebraska and Ohio State. Cain actually played a lot of QB in HS, since he was the best athlete out there, so don't be shocked if he's not good at WR technique when he gets on the field. He's playing this fall either way. He has to learn how to block, which I don't see on any film. Runs good routes that I can see. Hands look good. He's fast, but quicker and more fluid than an outright blazer. Change of direction is good, indicating good hip flexibility. The reports on his personality say that he's a gamer, but quiet like our last two great WRs. Cain projects as a 5 or a 2 in Clemson's system, but probably starting out at 5. Tony Elliott is the typical area recruiter for Tampa, with Jeff Scott.

Gage Cervenka -DT -  Emerald HS, Greenwood SC -6'3 280 4.9 40.- film - #12 in SC and #37 DT nationally. Cervenka has offers from NC State, WF, Miami, and Duke. Very good HS wrestler, so he'll understand leverage. Most important thing I can say from his film is that he has a good motor, a very good thing at DT. Pad level is fine, first step is good. Cervenka's parents are Clemson fans and he grew up one. I expect him to RS. Recruited by Mike Reed.

LaSamuel Davis - WDE -Bamberg-Ehrhardt, Bamberg SC - 6'4 215lbs 4.68 40. - film - #13 player in SC, #33 WDE nationally. Davis had strong interest from NC State and UNC, and supposedly had offers from K-State, Florida, GT and Virginia Tech. Based on what I have heard, I'm skeptical of the offers from Florida and another from Tennessee. I'm not super high on Davis. I like the speed and first step obviously, and that is why he makes so many plays at Bamberg. His motor is good, which is most important. Davis is an athlete playing DE, the fundamentals and experience as a DE aren't there, so this one is a project, but not a project I mind since we got Bryant and Ferrell. I could see him becoming a pass rush specialist as an upperclassman. Definite RS. Recruited by Marion Hobby.

Clelin Ferrell - WDE - Benedictine School, Richmond VA - 6'5 240lbs. 4.7 40. - film - #5 in VA, #6 WDE and #135 national player. Offered by Bama, FSU, LSU, and many others. Ferrell looks like a future Beasley in frame, though obviously the edge speed from VB is pretty rare. Right now he plays like most 6'5 guys, too high, but that can be fixed. He's also left free a little too much on the film, coming completely unblocked off the edge from a 6 or 7 technique, which makes me wonder about the level of competition he's playing against. In some camps he has been pushed around by some good linemen, which gives me some pause as to how to rate his hand usage and how well he sheds. Right now, he's just beating guys with athleticism and not moves, but again you rarely see a guy in HS get more than 1 move down. Dropped a little in rankings later due to a ACL tear in August. Possible RS, but I think either he or Bryant plays given our lack of DE depth. Watch the knee though, given our record healing them. Recruited by Venables and Hobby.

Mark Fields Jr- CB - Hough HS, Charlotte NC - 5'10 186lbs, 4.34 40 -film, 2 -#5 player in NC, #10 CB nationally and #113 overall. Had been committed to SC for a long time, but staff uncertainty and the fact that Spurrier will not be there for 4 years are the main reasons why he pulled away. Son of former Panther LB Mark Fields. Bigger, physical CB not afraid to jam at the line, which we will be needing this year. Excellent speed and good ball skills. I do have questions about his toughness after sitting out an AS game with a broken finger. Fields is too talented to RS. Recruited initially by Pearman, but Mike Reed gets most of the credit here.

Ray-Ray McCloud III - WR/DB - Sickles HS, Tampa FL 5'9 176lbs 4.4 40 - film 2 3 4 - #2 athlete in the nation, #9 player in FL and #23 player in the nation. Offered by everyone, but committed to Clemson after his close friend Deon Cain did, which is when I predicted he'd commit to us. Florida was the main competitor earlier on. RRM played mostly RB in HS, but would project as a WR or DB at the next level, depending on where he wants to play. I expect we'll start him at WR in the slot 2 position, which was Sammy's spot. Basically will bench Germone Hopper, who needs to get it straight that he won't play over RRM unless he starts working hard. Speed and change of direction are simply excellent, but other than that there is not a ton of WR film to examine. Also, if he wants to bulk up (he's a little scrawny), he could be another Spiller. He won't RS. Recruited by Tony EIliott and Jeff Scott.

Tanner Muse - SS - South Point HS, Belmont NC - 6'4 205lbs 4.4 40 - film 2 - #17 player in NC, #44 rated Safety by Rivals. Committed long ago, but offers had come from Michigan, NC, Florida, and GT. Muse is just a big athlete, who will need a little development and to focus on either football or baseball. He is a candidate to get drafted by MLB this June. I think you see him start in the back end and whether he bulks up or not will dictate a move to OLB. I do believe he RSs. Recruited by Dan Brooks.

Christian Wilkins - DT - Suffield Academy, CT - 6'5 305lbs - film 2 3 - #1 player in CT, #4 DT nationally and #21 player overall nationally. Offered by Bama, Florida, Penn State, Ohio State among others. Another War Daddy. As you can imagine, CT doesn't provide him enough competition, so he bulldozes everyone he plays. He does show out in AS games and camps though. Wilkins is a rare blend of size and speed, but is a bit wreckless and plays higher than Huggins. Wilkins may need just enough coaching that he'll benefit from the RS, but don't be surprised if he cracks the 5-man rotation. Recruited by Venables.

Garrett Williams - 4* TE - 6'4 225lbs. First Academy Orlando FL - film, 2 - #3 TE nationally, #18 in FL and #118 player overall. Offered by nearly everyone, including Bama, Auburn, the Florida schools, Stanford and Notre Dame. Williams is an FSU legacy, his dad played for Brad Scott as a FB under Bowden, and Brad's connection got us in, but Stanford was the main competition according to him. Williams has everything you'd want in a TE, but you could probably find someone who does something better without having the entire package. He has good speed, but its not elite. He's not going to stretch the field deep as well as Leggett could (if he ever stopped being lazy).  He isn't stiff in the hips and it shows in his cuts, but he's not as fluid as Allen ended up. His hands are good. He gives effort as a blocker, but I don't see him starting out as a line TE, he'll be flexed out like a Leggett or Seckinger in the beginning. If he can put on about 20-30lbs, without losing any athleticism, maybe then he becomes a guy you'd play every snap and capable of doing everything we'd need at this spot. If he can do that he'll make it to the NFL without a problem, I just don't see him going as high as a Fleener or Allen. Given our TE situation, I expect them to play him. Recruited by Jeff Scott.

Grayshirt - Amir Trapp - CB - Daniel HS, Clemson SC - 5'7 165lbs 4.7 40 - film - Offered by Furman and PC. Son of James Trapp. Amir has no height and not enough speed to deserve a scholarship to play Div 1 football for Clemson. This is Dabo dabbing and nepotism, just like the Davis twins. Trapp is meant to enroll next January, on scholarship.

I'll reiterate my opinion on Clemson legacy players here. If a kid can play and is a legacy, then I want him. I think Cannon Smith can play and deserved his offer. I don't think Trapp or the Davis' can play.  They eat up useful scholarships that we can use for depth. If they walk-on and make the 2 deep, they deserve to get a scholarship, not before. Giving out 4-5 scholarships to players who can't help you defeat FSU is self-imposed probation.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Post-Tangerine Bowl Thoughts

First, outstanding performance by Clemson in the game. Oklahoma just did not want any. We know they're not a 40-6 type of bad team, but they didn't want any of what Clemson was giving them Monday afternoon. Clemson gave me flashbacks to the 1989 Gator Bowl with the way we gutted the Oklahoma Sooners. Us finishing #1 in Total Defense is something that makes me insanely happy, its a goal most defenses have and few ever attain. I'd put this defense up with those 89-91 teams. Ben Boulware did a good job in Anthony's stead, the secondary did theirs, and the DLine dominated the game.

How Grady Jarrett is not a 1st team AA is beyond me. I just don't get that. He's been consistent all year at blowing up blockers inside, and gets so little recognition for it. The NFL will recognize it.

Second, Kudos to Cole Stoudt. I have said on here before that he was definitely one of the worst QBs Clemson has thrown out there, and the on-field evidence remains against him from this season. One game doesn't erase it, but he deserved a performance like what he gave us, because we all knew he could play better than we have seen. Theres a reason why I backed Dabo in playing Cole as long as he did. We knew the guy who could run the base offense over the last 3 years was capable of doing better, and he finishes his career on a high note. Good for him, great job. He went out like Malliciah Goodman with the performance of his life.

I think the staff reduced things for Cole to a set of basic install stuff that he was comfortable with and didn't require a lot of medium-long range throws. I think Cole knew he was the only answer at QB and approached the game with a different focus with no DW over his broken shoulder. I think having a fresh look from Brandon Streeter helped him, but I do not believe his mechanical issues have been fixed. You can make progress in two weeks (15 practices) but you aren't going to "solve" the issues.

Only a couple things could've been improved really, and that was consistency in the run game and blitz pickup.

Our OL did alright in the first quarter, and Gallman ran hard as he usually does, but the run game seemed to vanish. This OL has to improve for us to get anywhere with Watson. Any title run will depend on the OL over the next two years. If they ever become dominant again, then we can win one.

The blitz pickup was actually pretty weak. You all saw Gallman miss 2 guys who nailed Cole thereafter. I think there was a 3rd on him, but I'm unsure of the responsibility on that particular hit on Cole. We had to yank David Beasley a couple times for Kalon Davis because he couldn't move his feet to stay in front of a blitzer.

As far as playcalling, I was happy with Tony's calls. When I wanted us to go for the jugular a couple times, i could see from the pattern that he was thinking the same thing. My opinion on the search is documented, I would've done some interviews, but I'm going to give TE/JS the leeway and evaluate them as next season goes along.

I wanted to remind some people about what we really felt when Dabo made some of these hires on the staff the last few years. I think some have forgotten how to read and think that since I criticize decisions made, that I instantly hate the hire. That is simply not true. I take issue with the process that I see going along, and I look at the possible candidates myself and make a judgement call, it doesn't mean I hate the decision made.

People say we hated the Chad Morris hire, wrong. Those who read my stuff at that time know that we warmed up to Chad pretty quick over that offseason as I worked through my Tulsa film. The issue we initially took was that Dabo could've had an OC with an impressive track record (Friedgen) everywhere he's been, and hired a guy with one year of major college experience. In retrospect we were wrong about him initially, and he's turned out to be the best OC Clemson has had, right up there with RichRod.

That we hated Venables is also wrong, but it took two years for him to fix what Steele did here. Adding Mike Reed is something that goes unnoticed, as Harbison had big disagreements with Venables. Our issue with Brent was that the OU defense had vastly underperformed its talent level since Mike Stoops left for Arizona. At the same time we admit that the Big XII underwent an offensive explosion with Baylor, Okla State, and others installing spread attacks and Mike Leach breaking records with the Air Raid. I felt OU could do much better, especially dominating up front, as I used to watch more Oklahoma games, and many OU fans did too. It turns out that either they have the wrong mix of staff members there or the whole thing is just going stale for Bob Stoops.

And yes, we still want Batson gone. We still have too many fat guys who can't move anyone sucking up scholarships. But at this point I'm of the opinion that the coaching is no better than it has been up front since Tommy West left. I love Caldwell, we supported him, but we need to revamp everything up front. Our angles are bad, pad level is not good enough, and we struggle picking up A/B gap stunts. If I had my druthers we'd go get a younger energetic guy.

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.