Sunday, September 7, 2014

Two Weeks Into the 2014 Football Season

Like DrB, I am enjoying my free time and just want a spot to land thoughts as this football season progresses.  This seems an adequate location.  As such, I don't know how often this will be updated or if it'll deviate from random musings about the Clemson Football program.

Two games in so I have a few basic thoughts I want to capture before Clemson gets into the bye week then heads down to Florida State.  These items reflect both the Georgia / SC State games this season and look back at trends carried over from years’ past.

Yes,I am still overall pleased with Morris’ work he is a damn good coach and responsible for a lot of Clemson wins.  However, in big games (particularly during the regular season), Chad Morris and the offensive staff tend to “manage” games the football games instead of calling them. Clemson’s offense operates best under loose, rapid-fire conditions.  In years’ past against SCar and again last weekend at Georgia in the second half Clemson slowed down.  Last week they got flat out conservative.  The combination resulted in the second-half offensive bog.  Of course, Morris was not helped by the offensive line, critical dropped passes, and the decision to play veteran backs but we'll look at those items in a bit.

Over the years I’ve openly criticized the decision to slow the pace down, highlighted with the expletive exasperation following the “check with me” strategy against the Gamecocks a couple years ago (yes, I still believe that Clemson could have worn down that SCar defensive line had the Tigers increased pace of play).  Without delving too far into the Clemson offensive strategy, I’ll say that The Chad (and the rest of the staff) has to commit to playing rapidly and Morris must get back to his core philosophy revolving around taking shots down the field on a routing basis.  It is one thing to do it against SC State, quite another against better teams we’ll play this season.

We saw complete crap from all five offensive line spots yesterday.  Right now, this offensive line is absolute shit a mess.  From memory, the worst from State included Ryan Norton getting bulldozed, Eric Mac Lain being slower than shit causing him to be way out of position (then deciding just to dive into the turf way, way behind the play), and Kalon Davis completely whiffing in several pass protection situations.  Pass blocking was very poor overall and, again, we got no push when keeping it on the ground.  Basically, a Division 1-AA school beat our ass at the point of attack.  There is absolutely no excuse for this.  Shitty pass blocking from guys I didn’t expect too much from is unacceptable but not inexplicable.  Our center getting his ass whipped / steamrolled against the defensive line we faced yesterday is flat out embarrassing.  Clearly there are deficiencies up front—a big deficiency being depth.  Swinney and crew cannot piss away scholarships yearly while this issue year over year remains a program eyesore.  If we ever want to get serious about smashing the ball A-gap to A-gap (as I believe Morris would like), this has to be fixed.  The "Mountaineer" Jet Sweep (pass) will only work so often when you have a defensive line faster and more talented than State.

Overall, Cole played fine both weeks despite some mistakes against Georgia and Watson played well in both games.  I am more comfortable with Cole for the duration of a football game and believe he can lead this offense using the all of the items in the playbook.  I'll admit I was disappointed in Cole trying to force another one near the goalline yesterday in addition to throwing across his body at Georgia in a similar down/distance.  I can't think of an opportune time for most any quarterback to throw across his body, particularly with that much traffic.  You must protect the football in those situations because, duh, they are your best opportunities to score.  As mentioned earlier, Watson looked talented and advertised.  He is impressive slipping out of trouble / running the football and has been more impressive with several downfield passes.  Again, I expect his role to be limited, at least through the end of this month.

Many are calling for an immediate depth chart change at the quarterback position.  Deshaun Watson is slippery elusive and throws the ball very, very well.  He is the most talented incoming QB in my memory and looks very developed for a true freshman.  He’s looked very good so far in his limited role.  That role will remain limited in the near future as the staff will keep the training wheels on him (no matter what they say to the media).  You’ll see him in a couple near-scripted drives at FSU and probably the same against Louisville.  I agree with the staff here…in order to play at the pace we want/need to play, I believe the more experienced—and very capable—Stoudt is the horse to ride into Tallahassee.  The win/loss results through the end of September should dictate how snaps are divvied up.  Obviously, if we cannot win the division, Watson as many meaningful reps as reasonably possible...he is without a doubt the future of this program.

The decision should already be made for other Clemson backfield spots.  The production out of the veteran runningbacks was poor at Georgia and younger backs have to be featured.  Sure, we’ll have passing game issues because of this (you simply cannot expect a newcomer to come in and block well—either at the collegiate or professional level) but Clemson cannot win big running the football with the personnel featured in Week 1.  The staff realizes this, hence Gallman and Choice being featured against State.  Unfortunately, they'll likely have to carry the load without significant push up front.

I am not exactly sure where I stand with the receivers yet.  We have a talented yet thin group and I am trying to stay optimistic.  With the departure of Priester, we can ill-afford any injuries or suspensions.  I am happy Peake was able to return, though it is a shame he was hurt a year ago--especially considering Clemson's track record of rehabilitation.  I am still pimping Mike Williams even though his drops early against UGa were momentum killers.  You know exactly what you are getting with Adam Humphries (I’ve spent the past three years praising his effort, so won’t rehash that here).  Scott provides instant impact as the freshman was productive in the opener and set records against State.  I look to see how Kitt progresses.  With the aforementioned depth issues, we’ll need a lot of quality snaps out of the freshmen.

Tight end play has been a disappointment.  I figured I’d see the TE targeted more in Athens but this group was essentially a non-factor.  Their blocking has been a liability to date and I haven't noticed any improvement over last season.  There is absolutely no sense in lining up Seckinger anywhere near the interior linemen if you expect to run to his side and I wouldn’t want him helping in max-protect situations if I were Cole.

The short yardage quandary is an offshoot of our line issues / question marks in the backfield.  We have been piss-poor in this area using conventional running backs for years and I don’t see improvement in ’14.  The last couple years featured a single wing power play with Tajh doing the grunt work.  While this was successful, Cole…well…likely can’t generate the momentum Boyd did in his wrecking ball role.  I’ll be interested to see how Clemson tries to get tough yards and, eventually, if the staff can find a way to consistently move the chains and convert goalline situations (without killing the quarterback).

This defense is good…possibly the best we’ve had at Clemson in a long, long time.  I will admit they seemed lackluster and unfocussed as the Georgia game progressed but think that is more of the exception than the rule.  Also, they won't see a back like Gurley again this season.  Everyone said it all offseason and hopefully these guys will fully understand that this offense simply doesn’t have the fire power it had a year ago and is bad/average up-front.  Accordingly, the defense will be asked to do more and more this year to win games.  They rose up and did this on several occasions last season and I am confident that it’ll happen again this year.

The senior-laden front seven is the best we’ve had in recent memory especially when at full strength.  There is little else to say about them other than enjoy this season because there has to be a dropoff next season.  I probably should be a little more concerned about the corners than I am but the strong front seven clearly helps this group.  Outside of Jenkins and Peters, I'll point to the extremely youth which will result in spectator frustration at some point in the year.  The clear talent headliner is Alexander and I suppose I am not the only one eager to see him go through a full year.  My biggest overall concern for this defense is the safeties (not a surprise following last season).  I am still not pleased with all the angles that are taken.  Poor angles result in players being out of position which leads to arm tackles which leads to broken tackles which leads to big yardage for the opponents.  We saw Robert Smith woefully guilty of this yesterday.  I'll be interested to see how better passing teams attack the seam.  If I were the opposition, I'd make Clemson prove they can contain the middle of the field.

Special Teams suck.  This specifically applies to the punt return team and kick coverage teams.  Neither is something new.  Clemson gave up trying to return punts for positive yardage against Georgia last season.  This unit repeatedly fucked up against Carolina at the end of the year, handing them the football in opportune locations.  I get it, you put AH back to assure that a fair catch is made (so make sure we can at least do that).  I think most Clemson fans are interested in seeing if we can get any return on an opponent’s punt.

A kick returned Week 1 was the catalyst for Georgia’s turnaround.  Clemson couldn’t manage the simple task of running lanes and paid dearly for it.  Anytime there is that shitty of an effort to fill lanes you are going to give up a touchdown, it was that pathetic.  

In addition to 7 points, how did that effect the overall game?   I'll argue that Mike Bobo is a very incompetent bad offensive coordinator and could see him leading Georgia down the path of complete implosion (yes, this is the same yahoo who refused to run the nation's best back the whole 1st half).  I am not arguing the result of the game or the dominance of Gurley.  I am saying that the kickoff return moved the momentum / took pressure off of Bobo and the piss-poor execution of Clemson's kick coverage team was unacceptable.

We’ve said it time and time again, we don’t really know what Danny Pearman brings to this football program.  Clemson has repeated special teams follies that completely changed games.  He was brought in originally to help an inept Brad Scott.  Now he’s an average TE coach, below average special teams coach, and ineffective recruiter.  I want to like Pearman but cannot tell you I like him eating up a staff spot.  Swinney clearly wants him around this program so all may be happy to put DP in an administrative role.

The final item I took from the weekend was the Clemson Radio Network's coverage of the football game.  I did not listen to the whole broadcast.  The piece I heard was absolutely awful.  "Coach" Don Munson was extremely dry honestly tough to listen to.  There were long breaks where you could almost hear Rodney thinking, "What the hell is this guy talking about?"  I won't say that I was the biggest fan of Pete (it will always be tough in my mind to replace Jim Phillips) but I'll say that he was much, much better than "Coach."  How anyone in the AD can think otherwise is unfathomable.  I know Munson is Dabo's boy and all and I know there is no real reason to employ him in the AD now, but for goodness sakes don't make the whole fanbase suffer by putting him on the radio.  At the very least, have some respect for Rodney Williams and get him a real counterpart for these broadcasts.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Georgia: A Tale of Two Halves

Frankly I haven't decided to work up another site, and am enjoying the time off, but I wanted to put down my thoughts of the game somewhere. Here is as good as any. Clemson played UGA this weekend, losing by 20+ points, because they weren't physical enough at the POA. Plain and simple. You get beat up front, you lose. Theres a bit more to it than physical strength though.
-Clemson TEs caught 2 balls. Leggett got none. That one is on Chad.
-Clemson's defense could not set the edge. You won't win often if you cant.
-Clemson couldn't tackle Gurley, or anyone else, after the first series. We didn't in the 1st half, and for some reason Bobo/Richt didn't beat us to death with him. 5 touches. At halftime I told FF that if they give Gurley the ball 15 times in the 2nd half, they'd beat our ass.

He got it 7 times for 150 Yards. If I had a Gurley he'd get the ball 25 times in a game, minimum. If UGA does that they'll win the East going away.

-Our backside LB frequently overran and opened the cutback lane.
-Our OL is no better than it ever has been. Gore was whipped off the edge because he would not move his feet and lunged. It wasn't Gifford Timothy bad, but he has to move them better.
-Reid Webster playing? Are you kidding? Webster is a situational backup. All I heard about was Crowder, play him.
-Our pass pressure pickup problems were the Center's fault primarily. He was not id'ing the MLB properly. Anytime they get 2 sacks up the A-gap, you have a big problem.
-Stoudt is not a bad QB, he's just average. He's about the same as Cullen Harper in terms of ability. His OL didn't do a good job and his WRs didn't help him. I was impressed by Watson, sure, but Stoudt deserves the shot and the loss was not entirely on him. He got rattled in the 2nd half, that much is on him, not much more.
-Defense can't tackle. Last year's team tackled much better. If I can count missed tackles in the first half on more than one hand, you aren't a good tackling team. You do not get to call yourself a good defense if you can't tackle.
-Special Teams coverage teams all fucking suck. Fire Pearman.
-Pinion's leg and Bobo's lack of a brain kept us from losing by 40.

I've been critical of The Chad many times in the past, because he frequently gives up on the running game when it works, despite saying, almost weekly, that we want to be a physical running team. At this point I'm convinced that is just horseshit. He has no intention of being a physical running team, and he doesn't want to run the ball well. If he did, he wouldn't ever let DJ Howard touch a football, and Wayne Gallman wouldn't touch it just once in an entire game. Chad's playcalling in the 2nd half was Spence-esque. You have Peake matched on a LB in any Trips set, and you don't chuck it? You can go max protect Chad. Its in your book. Go max and run 4 verts, anything to get a spark. Field position be damned. Your QB is seeing the rush, getting rattled, and you won't take a shot just because you started inside the 30? ITS THE OFFENSE, RUN THE OFFENSE. If you won't give it to the good RB, and won't take your shot once per drive (hell once every other drive would've been enough), then what do you have? You didn't even target Jordan Leggett all night, and he's all I heard about for a month. He couldn't beat a LB one on one?

BTW, Peake is not 100%. Clemson medical staff bullshit us again. He's more like 75%. He won't take the top off a defense, leaving us with no one who can. Williams is not that fast. Scott is not that fast. Peake can still whip a linebacker 1 on 1 though, and if I'd been calling plays I'd have busted Georgia's ass with it all night.

DJ Howard does block pretty well though, I will give him that much. That is why he plays. He kept Stoudt from having his head ripped off a few times. In my mind, Howard is Bowden-circa-2004 talent, and shouldn't be on the field aside from a max protect passing situation. You have to give the ball to the youngsters and let them screw up the blocks because Howard is not going to scare anyone in any running situation. I'd hand the rock to Gallman and Davidson and Choice next week and Howard would not touch the football again this season.

What was up with the pass rush? Well a couple things. They handled Lawson and Beasley one on one well. We didn't get it done. Clemson DEs got reached all night. All night. Vic was handled the same way FSU did. They put a TE outside him often. The TE blocks back, and he gets nowhere. That happens when you are 240lb against a 240lb TE + a 300 lb OT. We also had him in a H5 technique, which boggles my mind. Why do you have him almost head up on a OT who has 40-50 lbs on him? Vic lives on the speed rush, and if he can't get outside leverage, he ain't gonna do shit. He should be playing a 6 or 7 technique against a OT who knows how to play.

UGA ran the toss sweep at the tune of 12 per carry to the right side, right where Corey Crawford normally plays. He decided to get smoked up with the other guys this offseason, got suspended, and hurt his team in the process. Crawford is instrumental in setting the edge. Barnes is good enough as a backup, 300 snap guy, but went down, but he's not as good at setting it as Crawford. Lawson can't do it as well as either of them. We didn't get the edge all night, and especially on the right. If you can't disrupt the edge then you get your ass kicked on the sweep outside, which we did. LBs overran a few times, leading to some TDs, but the edge being set is key there, and if someone had set the edge and refused to be moved, you'd have seen Anthony/Steward making some plays. And on one play, which I think is on Venables, BJ Goodson was actually lined inside the TE with NO ONE outside him. That should never happen. You gave them leverage from the start.

My thought from the Spring game was that this was a worst-case 7-5, best case 9-3 team based on what I saw that day. I thought last week that it would be a 9-3 season. I still think we're 8-4/9-3. I'd start Stoudt next week, give Gallman the ball 10 times minimum, and Choice another 10. I'd then give D. Watson the whole 2nd half.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

What Happened at STS

My goodbye post "Tiger Trails to You" only tells a small piece of the story, and really didn't address the true issue why we were forced to leave SBNation. Since I have decided to forego legal action at this time, and have yet to decide if I want to continue writing about Clemson, I thought it prudent to get the story out there so that people could see the truth for themselves.

The issue at hand is the FY13 Budget post, and that was the only issue. Keep in mind that Clemson's budget is public since they are a public school, as is IPTAYs. You can request this info and they must give it to you, or you fan file a FOIA request and get just about anything. FOIA requests are more formal and require a small fee so they can collect the data. In the past, I have directly emailed Katie Hill, former CFO/Assistant AD under Terry Don Phillips, for the IPTAY and Athletic AUP budgets. She provided them freely. I have even quoted her responses in a previous post, and received no feedback at all, good or bad, from either SBNation or Clemson for doing so. The last post where we quoted her remains in the archives.

 This year, with Hill now retired, we got a bit of a run-around from Clemson. I had another writer email them and try to get the information while I worked on position reviews, and apparently he couldn't do it. He did eventually get the AUP but no one would give him IPTAY's figures. So, with the budget post now beyond due, I went to her replacement myself, Graham Neff, for the information. I then quickly got a response and another from Travis Furbee on the publicly available IPTAY membership total. I did not identify myself as a writer for STS, I figured that since the email address is "Shakinthesouthland@gmail" and my display name being "DrB" that he'd know, the AD reads the site anyway and they do know my name. All that I did was ask for the budget figures, then thanked him for his time and help. I compared the budget to a previous budget and found some oddities which I asked him to clarify, just as I'd done before with Hill. He gave me a reasonable explanation, told me he was happy to help and that Clemson wanted to become more transparent about money.

I decided that since his response was totally factual that it'd be better to quote him rather than paraphrase his response, so that is what I did. I thanked him in the article and published it. Nothing derogatory was said to him or about him or anyone else in the post.
Apparently the SID felt otherwise. They called SBNation and complained that I had somehow misrepresented myself by not identifying myself as a member of SBNation Media. Well the thought never occurred to me to mention it in an email, since I consider myself a blogger and not a member of the media. I thought, since they read the site anyway, especially Bourret, that the display name and email address were identification enough. Besides, its public information. They'd have to give it to me if I made them do it, even Neff's emails can be subject to FOIA in certain instances. And it is not illegal to not identify yourself, reporters do that all the time.
In talking with my counsel, if anything illegal was done, SBNation would've taken down the post immediately. Copyright violations are taken down for this reason. Yet, the post remains up two weeks later.
Then I got an email from Matt Brown and Luke Zimmerman, the SBNCollege managers, asking for a phone exchange. They called me and told me that Clemson had gone directly to them, complaining that I had misrepresented myself in the exchange with the AD. Apparently they had spoken to "several Clemson administrators" - why several? I see no grounds for a Clemson suit if the information is public and I published it faithfully and without a single derogatory comment to anyone. I could've filed an FOIA request and gotten it all the hard way. Luke then intimated that Clemson would somehow restrict their ability to do business by cutting off access throughout the conference and used it as justification to release me from contract.
Where would you get that idea from a factual quote of an Assistant AD, unless Clemson somehow pressured them into something? It does not add up. If it was as simple as it should be, I could've written an apology to Neff and filed FOIA from now on.
You can see something is very clearly wrong here. Many have suggested in the comments that they played a role in removing us; not the case. As recently as April 17, after I fired Ryan Kantor and Mark Gordon for insubordination (only later did I find out that Kantor tried to stab us in the back), both Matt and Luke agreed with my administrative decisions as site manager and sympathized with our banishment of trolls. I have always moderated STS as a Clemson site, and had given short leash for opposing fans who would love nothing more than stir things up. None of that was even part of the discussion here.
Then others will say its lack of traffic growth, but that is not the case either. Traffic does not grow at the (unsustainable) rate of 20-50% year/year as it once did, but I have the monthly traffic figures and we rank midpack in the ACC and generally near the top during football season.
I do believe, after talking with my attorney, that if they had basically told me that "Clemson made us do..." that I'd have grounds for a suit against both Clemson and SBNation, but of course they did not say so in those words. It was all done via phone.
Then after the fact, they demanded access to my Twitter and FB accounts, created by myself to my own email address. They said they'd pay for them "to avoid hard feelings", but then said their legal dept would take them if I refused. A bully tactic; I refused. Then they said the contract stipulates no notice, but that is not what the one I have here says. My lawyer will work this for free if I choose to pursue something, but there is no money in it.
The only people who make money off SBN articles is the computer programmers and management. All the writers who make up the sites get very little. Its almost like the NCAA vs. O'Bannon. Almost slave labor and someone else gets rich off it. I can't retain writers because I can't pay them for their time, and yet constantly bugs you in emails about writing 2 posts a day. They even tell you "Oh we'll give you $50-100 if you average 2 a day!". Yeah ok. I bill the government more than that in an hour for my day job. SBNation wants a Cadillac for Kia money.
So that is where we stand. FF and I both wanted to hand the site over to someone worthy and were waiting for that writer to emerge. None of the staff has intimate knowledge of the game, or have even played it, and none has my level of analytical skills to go with that knowledge. We wanted to retire and write as we felt, instead of being forced to write weekly year-round.
Now, with my belief that my own school, that I love more than anything except family, turned against me, I just don't know if my heart is in it.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

We're Moving!

We've been invited to write and run a new Clemson blog on SBNation called Shakin The Southland.

This site will no longer be used or updated, we'll live the archives up through the season. Please join SBNation (no they dont hound you with emails) and comment on our new digs.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Clemson Baseball for a moment

Clemson's baseball schedule was released today by the AD. Its highlights are games against Michigan State, Elon (played in the Tourney), Georgia, and a 3-game set with Carolina starting in Clemson, then Fluor Field in Greenville, then finally in Columbia on the first weekend of March. In total, 27 of 56 games will be against teams that played in the NCAAs last year.

Baseball America rated the incoming Tiger Freshman class 20th, after losing the star pitching signee Madison Younginer to the Red Sox. Clemson was ranked 9th by signing class before the draft.

I'm sure this team can and will make the NCAAs, even after losing so much from the team, and the pitching coach from last season.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Wake Forest postgame review

ESPN highlights.

FF:Clemson came out and played the way that everyone expected the Tigers to play all season long. The offense was able to string together plays that built off of one another the defense bottled up Skinner and played particularly well. While this is a nice win for the team, we all should be cautious what we take from this game due to the questionable overall football aptitude of this week's opponent.

Overall, the team came out with a high enthusiasm level, which is understandable after the embarrassment in College Park and the criticism from all angles over the past two weeks. As previously stated, there were a lot of good things and some bad things that happened against Wake. Check out the action and commentary below.

**Note to Mike Hogewood, Clemson's current defensive end is RICKY Sapp. Patrick Sapp is a former Clemson QB/LB who played for the Chargers and is currently attempting to do some sideline reporting for Clemson Sports Network and usually sounding like a drunk idiot. (BRING BACK RODNEY!)

**Rick "Doc" Walker did not disappoint us by saying something ridiculously out of control in the first half, suggesting that (paraphrase) he would "pull a pint of his (Kyle Parker's) blood and freeze it for next week". Raycom Vampire? Fantastic.

First Half

Wake started the game with an on-sides kick attempt. Why you give up this kind of field position when you know that your opponent's offense has struggled all season makes no sense to me, but Clemson will take this gift to open the contest.

After the game Jim Grobe confirmed it was intended to be a skyed kickoff, and he got under it.

Offensive Drive #1 at WF 46
Clemson unsuccessfully ran the ball a couple of times on first down here. It was obvious that Wake was going to make Clemson beat them through the air, keying on early run plays. Clemson countered very well with a nice catch by Ashe, a couple of nice grabs by Palmer, a toss to Spiller, and a lot of play action. The use of play action on this drive obviously froze the Wake defense and allowed some nice gains through the air, culminating with a great pitch and catch to Palmer in the end zone. The offensive staff did a great job of running initial plays and building off of these plays into a rhythmic and fluid drive.

Run, P, R, PA P, PA P, PA P to Palmer for the TD. Watch Palmer turn around the safety by jumping inside too soon on him, then he runs right by him.

Defensive Series #1
Jarvis Jenkins played really well here, Ricky Sapp as well. He was quick and destructive against the Wake offense. Skinner has some time to throw, but the Tiger secondary ensured that Wake only got 3 offensive plays this series.

Offensive Drive #2
Kyle Parker made a great play on this drive by looking, scrambling, then tucking the ball for a nice 7 yard gain. This is what we have been looking for out of KP all year. After a short gain, the OL gets a huge negative. Wake's DT put a simple inside move on McClain and ran past Freeman to sack Parker.

R (cuz Austin got beat on speed rush), R, Pass/Sacked. It was a Gun Trips Field with a TE and Spiller on a wheel/flat route, and only 5 protecting.

Defensive Series #2
Bowers did a good job getting up field. I will probably say this a few times, but Bowers is nothing short of a beast...big, fast, strong, and agile. He got his clock cleaned by a 185lb WR on the boundary though, tell us why our WR cant make blocks like that? I was a little disappointed with the tackling (and overpursuit) here, but was impressed by the int by McDaniel. He made a nice break on the ball from the center field position and picked it clean.

Offensive Drive #3
Finally, some sort of draw play! I absolutely love the QB draw play here. KP showed off his wheels and picked up a nice gain. This play call was fantastic and really threw off Wake's defense. The Spiller run was a good example of what can happen with zone blocking. Clemson's zone blocking produces strike outs or big gains. Spiller made an excellent inside out cut and picked up a chunk of yards. These plays work well with a back by Spiller because of his excellent ability to cut against the grain and pick up 15-20 on his own. I really liked the play action to Palmer and hitting Allen out of the left TE position. Two things bothered me with this drive. First, at the goal line, Clemson got zero push up front (as usual). Second, we line up in a 5 wide formation here. Dye has to MAKE himself get OPEN there. He got zero separation. I hate the lack of execution (no push) and strategy (5 wide) when you have a chance to punch it in. Jackson hammers home the short FG and the Tigers go up 10-0.
R,R, PA P, P, R, R, P, FG. 8 plays 58 yards 2:59.

Defensive Series #3
Wake was able to move the ball here, too well. WF got some push up front on early in this possession. I noticed Ricky Sapp getting around pretty easily here. Sapp showed his speed and agility all day. Clemson for most of the day played the corners pretty close to the line. Riley Skinner was able to scramble for a huge 3rd down gain during this drive. This is one of the few times all day the defense lost him. Tigers hunker down and force a (badly) missed FG from the Preachers.

We might chart the defenses we show and the number of blitzes we run in the coming weeks.

Offensive Drive #4 starts at the CU 34
Jamie Harper finally appeared to get going on this drive. He had a big run to start the series and was not brought down with an finger-tackle. J. Ford had a nice, long grab off of a 51 yd play action pass on the next play to the 3yd line. I like the design of this play, as Clemson motioned Palmer and kept him in to block. Harper also threw a block to give KP a chance to heave the ball up. Ford came back to the ball and made the catch on what looked like a Post. Clemson then runs option, with Parker making an acrobatic leap to score. Good execution for all four plays by all aspects of the team (play design, play call, hard running, good throw, good receiver play, max protection).

R, PA Pass, R, R for TD. 17-0 4 plays 66 yards.

Defensive Series #4
The defensive front (led by Bowers) had a great series. Three and out for the D.

Punt hits Wade's foot, live ball recovered by Wake. This is ridiculous, and has happened two games in a row now. There is no excuse for not getting as far away from the ball when the return man will not field the punt. BC punt is pretty crappy, with no chance for a return. With little sound on the field, I could not hear what was going on, but am sure there was a "Clear" or "Peter" call (these are the code words on punt return that mean "get the hell out of the way, the punt will not be fielded"). This should never happen and is nothing short of poor execution/field awareness. Here is where we lost it for the only time of the day.

Defensive series #5
Goodman gets great push here and tosses Skinner down for a sack. Bowers shows off all of his skills and why he was the #1 recruit in the nation a few years ago. Bowers looks like a man amongst boys out there. Three plays for Wake and another punt. Almost a huge pick by Cumbie, Jenkins eats them alive.

Doc Walker on our DL: "they musta had pepah in dey grits"

Offensive Drive #5
KP takes off on a zone read for a short gain, then a screen fails because of a tipped ball by a blitzer off the corner. Clemson had a nice play set up for a huge gain, but KP made his lone poor throw (high) of the day, overshooting an open Jacoby Ford. Clemson is forced to punt.
R, P-i, P-i

Defensive Series #6
Maye was turned around on an early play that could have really hurt the defense. Instead, Wake confuses the Tigers zone turning a short drag route into a huge gain. This was the biggest miscue of the day for the pass defense. There appeared to be some crossing to confuse Maye. The TE released to pull Maye one way, and the slot WR he should've picked up was going the other way, both in front of his face. A helmet to helmet call gives Wake 15 more. Clemson had a few issues wrapping up the ball carrier on this drive. A nice reverse pass back to Skinner put the ball inside the Clemson 10. Seven more yards on a rush took Wake to the 2. Clemson looked a little sloppy until this point in the drive. A quick stop at the 1 and an incomplete pass after a penalty held Wake to a field goal. I was particularly impressed with the speed of Conner at the goal line (play negated after the Tigers accepted a 10 yard penalty on the play). Conner was exceptionally quick, chasing down the running back who bounced outside and seemed destined for the pylon. During the game, I questioned accepting the 10 yard penalty, but I figure the coaching staff was concerned the Wake would go for the TD and punch it in from the 1 on 4th down if given the opportunity.


Offensive Drive #6
CJ does what CJ does, 66 yards on a (33/35) zone run with a fake sweep to Ford. Both TE's were in the game and Walker made a good effort to seal and allow Spiller to make the cut inside, and another by Cloy (playing RG) to seal off the backside of the cutback lane. Once he was to the second level, you all know what happened.

CJ goes over 6000 all-purpose yards.

Defensive Series #7
Riley Skinner really got knocked around here. Clemson brought a few extra guys all series, with Branch and Conner getting sacks here. The latter sack came even as Wake kept extra players in to provide more protection. Clemson uses timeouts well here to get the offense the ball back.

Offensive Drive #7 starts at the WF 41.
Clemson starts with a pair of nice catches by Ashe (he caught the ball!) and Palmer. Palmer's grab was particularly impressive because he did everything correctly. He runs a quick out route (watch how he pushes the defender by selling the fly), plants, and makes a crisp turn, catches the ball with his hands, tucks the ball, turns and gets up field. Fundamentally, Palmer may be the best pass receiver on this football team. After a quick run by Ford (same play run by Spiller before, but on the end-around), Parker appears to have Allen open, but the pass is dropped. While one could argue it wasn't a perfect pass, I was a little heartbroken by this drop. We have been pimping Allen and getting two TE's in the game because they are better receivers and blockers than the WR's, and what does Allen do? He drops the freaking football! This was the sole dropped pass that I can recall on the day. I still like getting both TE's in the game as much as possible. Fortunately for Allen, his teammates picked up for his drop, with KP taking a designed run for 14 yards to the 3. Downfield blocking has improved by the receivers. Harper then punched it in with the help of a nice block by Chad Diehl. Wake's defense looks deflated here.
PA P-i, P, P, R, P-i, R, R. 31-3

Defensive Series #8
WF runs the clock down here. I did notice Jamie Cumbie still had his motor running wide open. It is particularly nice to have a guy like Cumbie to spell the guys up front. He played particularly well throughout the game.

271 yds of offense to 99 for WF, most of which was on 2 drives.

Defensive Series #1
Clemson forces an incompletion, then Ricky Sapp runs right around WF's tackle. Clemson continues to blitz, allows a 9-10 yrd pass completion, and forces another 3 and out for the Demon Deacons.

Offensive Drive #1
Parker, off play action, has a ball batted down and Clemson gets a few yards off of an inside hand off from the gun to Spiller. KP then telegraphs a pass to Taylor that easily could have been picked off. Parker has issues of not looking off defenders and staring at his intended target. Three and out for the Tigers.
PA P-i, R, P-i

Clemson still is not lighting it up on 3rd downs today.

Defensive Series #2
Wake attains consecutive 1st downs to start this drive. Skinner connects for 9 or so to get the initial first, then Wake runs for 15 or so for the second. Clemson had pretty good coverage on the 9 yard pass. The 15 yard run was set up by Brandon Maye being out of position and getting sealed away from the play. Maye plays particularly hard, but often takes bad angles to the ball. Often times, he is too anxious to do too much, becoming his own biggest obstacle. Clemson then forces an interception on a nice play by Butler. His tip ended up in R. Hall's hands coming over from his two-deep position.

Offensive Drive #2
Willy Korn comes into the game at this point. Clemson opens with a pair of runs (5 yrds by Spiller and 6 yrds by Korn). Incomplete pass to Clear. Korn is shifty and can move well (as we all knew), but has had issues throwing the ball. His incomplete pass to Clear was terribly thrown. Ellington then makes a fine run off of a toss out of the shotgun formation. Clemson was able to kick out and seal necessary defenders (David Smith was in and made a big seal) around the LOS to create this space for Ellington to operate. Unfortunately, after quite a few moves and a 30 or so yard gain, Ellington puts the ball on the ground AGAIN. We have been dogging on Harper and begging for more snaps for Ellington, but this fumble does not help that cause.
R, R, P-i, R-Turnover

Korn just has no luck.

Defensive Series #3
After a quick 9 yard completion, Wake commits a penalty and completely stalls, turning the ball over on downs. McDaniel made an excellent tackle, and Brandon Thompson gets it going up the gut, helping keep Wake at bay on both 3rd and 4th and short situations. Their RB missed the correct hole, because they had a surge over there on the right side.

Offensive Drive #3
Jacoby Ford completes a nice one to Xavier Dye off of the option pass. Not only was the ball well thrown, but Dye also made an exceptional catch down the sideline. Out of a 2 TE look, Spiller is able to bust another one on an inside zone for 14 yards and the day's final scoring. Good blocks by D. Allen and C. Lambert to spring him on the left side.
P, P, R-TD. 38-3

Defensive Series #4
Byron Maxwell made an exceptional break on the football and drops an interception (and possibly a touchdown, as he was in open space). Clemson's secondary did a good job here, as Skinner just could not find an open receiver on this drive. Skinner was able to break containment, tuck the ball, and 15 yards. After allowing Wake to convert on a 3rd down attempt, CU holds and Wake is forced to punt.

Offensive Series #4
Will Korn is back in the football game. Harper gets a tossout here in Gun, which he is not suited to. Not a good call. After running for a few yards, Korn connects with Harper on a quick stop route from an empty set. Korn again shows off his rushing ability, and Chad Diehl get a 5 yard carry on the FB Dive. HELL YES! Korn attempted a dangerous pass while on the run here. There was really no reason for him to throw the ball up. Korn gets sacked (had time to throw) and completes another pass to Harper on a bubble screen from an empty set. Punt.
R, R, P, R, R, P-i, Sack, P.
End of 3rd Qtr.

Defensive Series #5
Gilchrist made a pretty good tackle early on. Clemson continues to blitz, and Riley Skinner is taken down with another sack in his last play of the day.

I will not take the time to discuss drive by drive the rest of the 4th quarter, as both starting QB's had already been pulled and this was mop up time. I will elaborate on an item that was particularly displeasing, particularly Cory Lambert getting smoked once again and Will Korn bearing the brunt of this mistake.

Overall, the play calling was night and day from the past few weeks. The play progression made sense. Clemson simplified things. Clemson found a weak point (play action paralyzed the Demon Deacons) and continued to exploit this. CJ Spiller had a nice day. Clemson's O-Line (for the most part) gave Parker time to throw. Clemson's receivers did not drop a pass, and Michael Palmer had another good outing. On the defensive side, there was a small lapse in the second quarter, but otherwise CU did well. Riley Skinner was bottled up all day and Clemson was able to put pressure on him all day.

I really would like to have seen Clemson line up and run the ball down Wake's throat at the end of the game yesterday. However, it is apparent that CU's offensive line does not have that capacity. Clemson's rushing offense is based on zone blocking (because the Tigers can't line up, put a hat on a hat, and push the defense around) and is spotty at best. What you will see out of this strategy is a couple of rushes for 1-3 yards, then a 15 yard gain (with Spiller). This style will not allow the Tigers to methodically move the ball down the's either feast or famine.

Parker did a nice job of using his feet to make plays. He still has a few issues of not looking off defenders (and a mechanical issue), but KP has a cannon. The velocity difference when Parker was substituted out of the game was obvious. We all were impressed with the read and effort on the goal line option play. Kyle (after what appeared to be a 3 week slide) showed improvement since the Maryland game.

Formations and personnel choices were vastly improved this week. The offense committed to getting back to basics with balanced formations and play action. Particularly pleasing was having two TE's in the game either for blocking or receiving purposes. The only complaints arise from the 5 wide, empty backfield formations. Clemson needs help up front with a TE and/or back chipping or blocking oncoming rushers. I have not looked at the film, but will be eager to see the performance (and amount of play) of Cloy at guard and D. Smith at tackle. Cloy has played pretty well at center, so it would be disappointing to move him around for no reason. I have seen enough of Cory Lambert already this season...

Now the reality of this whole thing. This is probably what CU needed, a good outing. Wake is the best passing team Clemson has faced so far, and the Tigers did a good job of neutralizing their senior signal caller. The offensive play calling and execution was much better than the previous 5 games. Clemson looks like it is moving forward. The real test will come next week. Miami is not Wake Forest. Clemson will have to defeat a much better team in South Florida next week. Miami has an offensive line, a dynamic quarterback, and a talented group of receivers. Defensively, Miami will be a lot quicker and the game will need to be played a lot faster agaist the 'Canes. Overall, Clemson will need to execute well in a fascets of the game to keep up with the "U".

Doc: I put in a few comments above but I don't have much to add, except that I would've either grounded the offense in the 4th and worked on the power running, or actually went for the jugular more. I want to beat wake by 80 every time, but we let up on them. Kickoff coverage was suspect and they got to the 2nd level quite a bit on returns. I havent decided whether to clip anything out of the film on this one because there were some good plays to look at, and I might edit this post later to add them.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Impressions before looking at the film...38-3 Victory

Not much to complain about without looking at the film of this one. FF is doing a game review post and I'll add my thoughts to it tomorrow.

-Very balanced offense today, looked like they tried to simplify things. Good changeup with the amount of playaction passes and usage of the Tight Ends. I noticed a few calls I didn't agree with, particularly one where we went empty-set in the red zone, and I would've preferred to run the ball more inside and establish it. Another was a pitchout to Harper, he should get the ball inside, not on the perimeter. WF is susceptible to the zone blocking scheme because of their slanting fronts, but I was not impressed at how we couldnt take full advantage.

-Although we had 195 yards rushing, if you look at the stats and take out the long runs, we dont have much. I wanted to see us churn out a sustained drive on the ground, and we didnt do that even at the end, when it was clear we were no longer going to press for a TD. One zone play gets 2, the next 30. That kind of thing doesnt happen as much against a fast Defense like Miami's.

-I was not happy with the overal push up front, but the first string did well in pass blocking I thought...except for Cory Lambert's lazy ass giving up that sack at the end. 4 sacks, 3 on Korn with the (partly) backup line.

-If Ellington wants more carries, he needs to learn to hold onto the damn football. Harper might've just taken back some of what he lost to Andre today.

-I could tell Parker had been told forcefully to scramble on his first one in the first half. You could see him look to throw it away, then looked at the coaches on the sideline and ran towards them. We had 13 QB carries (-4 sacks) today, the option keeper and a few of the draws were called, but the rest were them making plays with their feet.

-You know we scream for Allen to get the ball and then when he gets a chance to get a 1st and Goal or a TD, he fails to catch it. Only drop I believe.

-Defensive line and Palmer deserve the game balls here. We played Cover 2 Man for a good bit of this game, and our DB's were all over them like glue. Bowers totally ate Skinner for lunch today:
"We basically had everything broken down to a tip of looking at their heels to tell if they were going to pass or run," said Bowers, who had three tackles for loss. "We were actually calling the plays that (Skinner) was going to run, so he had no choice but to check down.

"We could tell exactly what they were running by the way the line was lined up and the things that he was doing. He was getting frustrated. I could tell in his eyes. I kind of said something to him, and he just looked at me and shook his head. So I knew something was wrong with him."

Deacons center Russell Nenon walked away impressed with Clemson's defensive front."You take a week off against a team like Clemson and you see the athletes like Da'Quan Bowers and Ricky Sapp -- they're freaks out there."

-Rumph and Dan Brooks are earning their paychecks, the entire front was just on fire today. There were some plays where Maye again gets himself blocked out with bad angles and trying to hard, and another where he got crossed up in his coverage assignment, but otherwise there's not much I can say without looking at the film tomorrow.

****Clemson had a large contingent of recruits in town today, a dozen committed and several uncommitted for this year and 2011. Among them were the #6-rated LB Justin Parker and 2011 commit Martin Lane (RB) with his teammate Cortez Davis, who committed tonight (for 2011). He has garnered an offer from Miami, LSU, FSU and Oregon, and plays Safety. He was recruited by Rumph.

Roll Tide.