Monday, November 17, 2014

House Of Horrors: Atlanta

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 14, 2014

Its Option Time Again

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, October 27, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, October 13, 2014

Louisville: A damned debacle.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Mid-Season Sunday Thoughts

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

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

UNC: The score doesn't tell the whole story.

I was at a bar full of FSU fans Saturday evening, 3 of whom I shot a bird towards, and missed the start of the Clemson-UNC game. Apparently I missed the best parts. However i did get to rewatch it Sunday, and it actually looked worse the second time.

I am happy with D. Watson breaking records, his touch is great, his poise is great, and he's on a Heisman trajectory if we can ever put it together as a team during his 3 years here. He wasn't perfect this weekend by a long shot, 3-5 balls were thrown that shouldn't have been thrown. NC just wasn't good enough to take advantage of them all. Unfortunately since Chad is not committed to building a running game, he's going to have to bulk up and become our RB too.

It must be stated however that UNC has the worst safeties we've faced this year. I mean those guys were completely lost. I was watching the tape and constantly asked myself, "what the hell was that guy watching?". We had guys open by 10 yards multiple times. I thought it was a Big XII defense i was watching. UNC doesn't have the talent they had under Butch Davis anymore, and it shows. VK is a good DB coach but he has not done a good job there and I don't think he has anything to work with either.

Defense played well, for one half. Thats all. In the 2nd half it was a mental letdown. We were not aggressive any longer. We were flat footed on jailbreaks too often, because guys were simply not reading their key. Our LBs in particular seemed to hesitate. UNC made that a 2 score game and threatened to make it one score under 5 minutes to go.

OL - terrible as I've come to expect. No one is pushing the starters, they are all so equally bad that its just a mishmash on any play. Who sucks the most on any play? Just pick a number, you'll be right soon enough. Kalon Davis playing RT is a travesty. 

I just have some questions for Dabs and Chad.

1. Did a rock fall on your head before you decided to take Watson out and put in Cole Stoudt in the 1st half? Did Joey B ring the bell too loud this week and fuck up your senses? Maybe he hit you with the chains on the weights? You don't take out the QB who is in a rhythm after just hitting a bomb to GHop, and you don't do it again with 5 minutes left in what had become a 2 score game.

Look I'm all for Stoudt getting a chance to play, but if you leave Watson in earlier it may have been a 3 score game with 5 minutes to play and I'd have no problem putting him in, but it made sense in neither case. I can't believe Chad decided on this himself.

2. Bench every TE on the damn roster. Put another lineman in to block, hell they need the work too. That display of blocking was atrocious. You pull a guy, he stands up to block, plays pattycake with the LB, and he gets planted on his ass and the RB gets nailed for a loss.  Suckinger wouldn't play again for me this season. Leggett would sit the bench for a month until he decides to get serious about blocking. A TE who can't block is a liability in this offense, put him at WR if you want him out there.

3. I like Adam Humphries, he plays hard, but he can't play over guys like Kitt or Scott or GHop. He is good at two things: blocking and calling fair catches. He's not going to outrun anybody. He's not getting himself open. He can't return a punt. Watch the defense when he runs across in motion, they do not respect him. Otherwise he's a decoy on the field.

4. Get DJ Howard off the damn field. 13 carries for him? Did I read that correctly? Howard is not conducive to having a strong run game. Gallman or Choice are. If Choice was banged up with a thigh bruise, Gallman should've been playing. Put the extra OL in there to block and let Gallman run.

Since I'll be in Braselton for the race this weekend, I'll get a chance to hear the wonderful "Coach" Don Munson call a game live, I'm sure I'll be twice as pissed at him afterwards.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Clemson gives away the game in Tallahassee


I'm just heartbroken that we could play a game so well against the #1-ranked team on the road, and somehow lose the game. Theres a few losses in our history that really bothered me, the 1988 one, the 1999 one, the loss down there 3 years ago, and this one. 3 years ago we basically outplayed them just the same, but couldn't score in the red zone and couldn't make the kicks. This time we outplayed them for all but one defensive drive in the 3rd quarter, and still gave it away.

FSU tried their very best to gift-wrap the game and hand it to Clemson, but its about Clemson, just as Dabo said pre-game, and Clemson failed to TAKE it.

Defense played their asses off. One weak drive, and basically one slip up by Mac Alexander, who himself played a hell of a game. DL whipped their asses up and down the field. Cameron Erving had his pants pulled down by Vic Beasley. Their Center couldn't recognize the front and it got him whipped a few times.

Just about the only thing I could complain about as far as the coaching went was that we continually allowed the best TE in the country, O'Leary, to get a free release even with a DE lined up on him in a 7-8-9 tech. MacGuire couldn't find anyone else when he needed a catch made.

D. Watson, I didn't think he was ready pre-game from a playbook standpoint. When he took the team that first drive I knew I was wrong. I don't care how many mistakes he makes this year, leave him in there. Play Cole, because he deserves to play, but Watson better start from here on out. Anything else would show me how stupid Dabo remains.

I just don't understand why Chad Morris says he couldn't get under center. He's a QB, and he hasn't put his hands under a center's ass before? I know Gainesville runs 100% Shotgun, but Jesus man. We line up under center down there and we score. I still believe we did score, but the ACC refs didn't think to review that one? If our coaches had a TV in the box, they should've called down to Dabs and had him challenge.

Now if Pearman can't coach, and I can see he can't improve Special Teams at all, then he can at least watch a TV to see if a call should get challenged. What other good is the man doing? We can't do more than fair-catch a punt, we can't hit a FG, we can't cover or return kicks, he can't recruit worth a damn, so what else is he here for? He has yet to approach Jack Hines-level of shittyness, but he's getting there.

I just don't want people blaming the whole loss on Lakip. Kickers are all mental cases, leave him alone. He needs practice yes, and absolutely should've made the first one, which I won't excuse at all, but the offense needed to get a damn yard. One fuckin yard inside the redzone wouldv'e won it. They had chances. Our OL can't push SC State off the ball, and they didn't do any better getting FSU off the line. If we had a good OL we win the game outright.

However, I give Spence a shot at kicker this week and forwards. I give Pinion another shot at placekicking as well. We have to fix it ASAP. If another guy can do it, gotta hold open tryouts to find him. I can tolerate missing over 40, but under 40 you need to be able to hit 95% of them.

And second, Ryan Norton needs to be on the bench. Guillermo is a better player. He needs to be starting this week if he's healthy.