Friday, January 30, 2009

Virginia Tech....recruiting

We beat VT 86-82 last night, overcoming a very shitty first half to have a for-the-most-part stellar 2nd half. It came down to the wire, as usual, and we didnt stop Delaney til we switched defenses. Clemson played horrid on defense in the 1st and transition still eats us alive. In much the same way Wake attacked our Full-Court Press, VT passed and always found open men in the half. It was a lack of hustle and intensity defensively, not the scheme. While I was yet again clamoring for OP to ditch the full-court for the half-court, he stuck with it til around the 16min mark of the 2nd, and depending on your POV it might've paid off to use it as long as we did. VT did look tired at the end.

But WF nor UNC looked so tired, and OP stuck with the press against them longer than he should've as well. I still believe J. Grant should start instead of Sykes, or at least get more minutes. Sykes tends to have flashes, then completely FUBAR the next minute.

It was great to hear Bobby Knight doing commentary, I enjoyed hearing how the man thinks during a game.

Larry Williams gives his take here.

A replay of the game is available for viewing online.

On another note, it speaks to the level of the program that VT would choose us as a "blackout" night. I wouldn't have expected that. Funny that it turned out just like the blackouts in Columbia, now if we could extend it to VT football....

Puke comes in Wednesday, and although they made some stupid defensive plays at the end against WF, I do not expect that curse to extend to us. I predict we get raped in transition yet again, but I think we win the game close.

What the fuck is going on with girl's basketball? and Volleyball players are almost as dumb?

-3 star OLB Eric Fields is apparently not bright enough to take his ACT/SAT, so he's off the board. He was rated #25 at his position. Its unfortunate, but if you haven't taken your SAT by January of your senior year, I don't have much sympathy for you. This has been feared for awhile, and there is probably more to it, but if he doesnt at least try to take his test, his LOI is void anyway. He never made his official visit because he never took the test and now we have to pull off totally. Clemson feasibly could sign and place in a prep school, but that isnt going to happen either (LOI is still void). He'll end up at a JUCO.

-K Chandler Catanzaro pledged to Clemson, and will be given preferred walk-on status, turning down a full free ride to Furman. He has plenty of leg, hitting from 51 twice as a senior.

-Sources say we will offer Darrell Smith this weekend on his visit.

Strelow informs us that Dabo plans to give the extra scholarships we have from this class to some older walk-ons, and talks about Fields.

Korncoot talks about our top 3 targets here. Napier is set to visit Brown tomorrow, but he does not plan to announce until after next Wednesday.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

It's That Time Again

Well, folks. It is finally that time again. This is the time of year that every football fan looks forward to. Super Bowl, you ask? Hell NO, Signing Day is a few days away.

This day is a day that lives in infamy in the hearts of college football know-it-all fans. Just go over to T-Net and you will see the brightest in the land exclaining their utmost allegiance to an 18 year old high school kid who will be the most talented player to walk on Frank Howard Field EVER.

Now guys, I definitely agree that Feb 4 is a crucial day for each and every program in the land. However, this day means absolutely nothing if the coach of these young men has his head shoved up his ass. In the same fashion that Larry Coker and Ken Hatfield ruined a dynasty, so could any other new coach.

On a side note, I am utterly surprised that there were no laptops or football players involved with M. Phelps' recent trip to the Mecca and the classic bong hit gone awry. Interestingly, he chose Pavlov's as the spot of choice. I would have pictured 14-time medalists would at least go to the Vista instead of 5-points (go figure).

I really think that Swinney did the best he could with what he was given this season on the recruiting trail. That being said, I will not anoint him just yet, as being an expert salesman is much different than being a great field general. I will further examine this topic as well as the path taken to get Swinney in the HC role in future blogs, after signing day.

Finally, could we see the General in Athens? Per ESPN, from a source close to Knight:

"He doesn't want it to look as if he's looking for work, but I can assure you
that he'd like to have the job. It's the idea of coaching a team in the
Southeastern Conference that appeals to him. There are just so many things
he could do for Georgia basketball. This would be his last stop, and he
likes that."

Thanks ESPN

Bob Knight is truly one of the most entertaining figures in all of sports. It is strange to watch him commentate at an even-keel pace on CBB Gameday. UGa, however, will probably not take him up on the offer as the UGay administration has become extremely politically correct over the past few years (the same cannot be said about most of the Dawg supporters).

Enjoy signing day and hopefully I can provide the blog more informative and entertaining material after the dust settles.

An interesting find

This blog entry celebrates CJ Spiller's decision to stay at Clemson.

For the most part, I totally agree with the author, students who decide to stay and get a degree should be heralded. There's more you can do with a college degree than an NFL career that may only last through one training camp, and one bad knee injury could do anyone in on day one of it. And lets face it, realistic Clemson fans do not believe we're going to win the national title with him back next year.

My different opinion is in the whole Top 20 pursuit, and how it pertains to the major sports.
(1) Articulated and exercised higher academic standards across the school and the President's drive for Clemson to be recognized among the top 25 public institutions in the country. Unfortunately it’s hard to be serious about both and win. Florida is not serious about stretching academic integrity across the University and into athletics (Nor is UNC Football/Basketball within the context of the more stringent academic requirements of the ACC vs. SEC, for that matter). President Barker is! Clemson fans should be proud of that distinction and work within those lines in pursuit of football greatness. Schools like Michigan, Notre Dame, North Carolina, Duke have long had sterling academic reps and are, therefore, afforded leeway by the general public to "dip" and take some kids that Clemson might not.

This is nonsense. Barker and the AARC have hindered the ability of the major sports to attract better talent with their higher academic standards applied to those sports. I don't believe Barker is a bad President; he's made promises and has worked his best to keep them, but the goal of "Top 20" and "National Championships" are separate things that must be worked toward in their own way.

The ACC has been hindered in its football stature over the decades by rules it put in place 50 years ago that forced it to not take partial qualifiers or those that it felt wouldn't graduate. This is the main reason why Coach Howard's non-conference record during the latter years of his career basically sucked (though it was eventually repealed, the damage was irrevocable). The SEC had no such rules, and still admits partial qualifiers, whereas the ACC does not. Howard was quoted at the time as saying, "I propose we add two more teams (to the ACC)," so all games would be conference games, and when asked why he said, "so everyone in the country wouldn't know how sorry we all are."

How many kids do we not get each year because of these standards? We'll never really know, because by the time recruiting season comes around, we've backed off the ones Becky Bowman and the rest don't believe will get in.

For all of the complaining about Florida or UCLA, or Texas or Georgia, or Michigan, they're all above or equal in terms of academic reputation to Clemson. Any sacrifice due to athletics has not hampered them at all. Its only 85 scholarship players here, as anywhere else. Only 35 man rosters for the baseball team too. All this out of a total enrollment just over 17,000 now.

Athletics are a tool to bring exposure to the school and raise money. If you live outside of S.C., as I do now, do you know of many people who know where Clemson is? Do you think that was the case in the '80s?

Do you think that, if Clemson had been good at football during the '90s, that we'd be getting the WEZ just now or 5-10 years ago? (Arguments about the ineptitude of Bobby Robinson aside)

If Barker had made the pledge to be Top 20 at a school with that amount of national exposure, do you not think we'd be closer to it? Recall that academic fundraising is a major component that influences those Top 20 rankings along with the number of research grants given to professors at the school and the millions they bring in as well. This necessitates also bringing in the top scientists from other places. Do you think that many professors at many other schools would know where Clemson is? I'll give you the short answer, particularly for my field, its a big NO. While Clemson has done well in some areas (Automotive research, history, engineering), its still well behind in stature in most other fields.

If you dont want the stigma of a "football school" then thats perfectly fine, but taking from one hand and feeding the other is not the way to improve both.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The 1985 Clemson Steroid scandal

Motivated by an argument with a stupid coot friend, I decided to do some digging into one of the scandals of the '80s that is less mentioned now. The 1980s were to college football what the 1960s were to just about everything else in America. Nearly everyone was on probation or getting investigated. There are always things that go wrong in every football program, and we were no exception. Practically no one was innocent, and though almost everyone was using steroids in the '80s too (remember the huge Congress investigation around 1990), we were one unfortunate enough to have someone die from it. We were clearly guilty of passing out drugs to athletes in all sports, as the coaches named below were not confined to football or track & field, that was just their specialty. (There is no mention of any claim against Coach Ford in any published article)

Fear not, because the University of Steriods and Cocaine did much worse, that post is yet to come. For now I'm only linking the wikipedia page.

On October 19, 1984, a 23 year old track star, Stijn Jaspers, was found dead in his dormroom. While steroids were not named as the cause of death in his autopsy report, they were found in his system. SLED decided to pursue that clue, and uncovered a big mess at Clemson, which was already stuck under NCAA probation at the time. These two stories by SI dated in January 1985 and by the New York Times tell all about it.

Clemson strength coach Sam Colson (former conference champ in track & field) apparently got the drugs from Vandy strength coach Doc Kreis who had used steroids there with the help of a local pharmacist. Kreis was a former Clemson football player himself, who played for Red Parker and Hootie Ingram. Doc Kreis is now widely known as one of the best Strength coaches in college football.

The outcome was that 3 coaches were indicted: Colson, Narewski, and Harkness and ultimately pled guilty.

In March of 1985 (date of that week's article), both Clemson President Bill Atchley and longtime A.D. Bill McLellan were forced to resign their jobs, which was requested by McLellan earlier.

A stormy seven-hour emergency meeting of the Clemson board of trustees ended last week with two announcements: Bill L. Atchley, the university's president since 1979, would resign effective July 1, and Bill McLellan, the athletic director since 1971, would be granted his request for reassignment to a new position. What had prompted these startling developments? By all accounts, Atchley had sought to remove McLellan as head of the university's scandal-ridden athletic department, and some of the 13 trustees didn't like it. As things turned out, McLellan did lose his A.D. job. But the fact that he will be staying at the university in another capacity while Atchley leaves—"to unify the Clemson board of trustees," is how Atchley revealingly put it—was a singular defeat for the idea that university presidents should have the ultimate authority over their schools' athletic departments.

Knowing what happened 4 years later, that last statement is kinda funny.

Although it should be pointed out that the steriods and NCAA scandals were not the only things going wrong in the program, though this one is more of a personal nature than an indictment of the program itself, since it happens everywhere.

After this, an even worse decision was made in promoting the former golf coach, Bobby Robinson to A.D. We were stuck with him til 2002, when he "retired" and was then hired by GT. Bill McLellan ended up at Southern Miss eventually.

And then, finally, the man totally responsible for Ford's dismissal was hired in October.

Lennon was forced out by the BOT in spring of 1994.

Clemson lands Boyd

And now TNet will reach a level of homoeroticism not seen since the days of Will Korn's commitment to Clemson.

Now everyone will be sure to jump on Boyd's bandwagon and call for his PT in 2 years when they realize that Korn is not the 2nd coming of Jesus that they made him out to be, even though he's only going to be a RS sophomore this season.

The 6-foot-1, 208-pounder becomes the highest rated quarterback recruit to commit to Clemson in over a decade. The last QB to sign with the Tigers to own a 6.0 marker was T.T. Tolliver in 1996, under then head coach Tommy West, though Tolliver was as an 'athlete'.

Tolliver didnt do anything either remember.

My personal prediction: Boyd backs up behind Korn/Parker for one year. After that year, if they get the job done, he moves to WR.

Monday, January 26, 2009

A break for awesomeness

Recruiting News

Last week Kendall Kelly rated his visit to Clemson a "10", but he was at LSU this weekend and says "Its probably the best one I've been on. Just everything that went into it." When asked if LSU was in the lead, he said we're (CU, Bama, LSU) "all about medium now." He went on to say that he might visit Tenn. or Auburn next weekend. He plans to announce on signing day. LSU already has a large group of WRs in this class.

Tajh Boyd is planning to announce his decision tomorrow afternoon. Based on his father's comments, I'd say we currently have the best shot at landing him, but his dad did say that he doesnt know who Tajh will pick. He points out the family atmosphere at Clemson as positives, and the general sense (of many Clemson fans) of not knowing what will happen with the offense under Swinney and Napier as negatives. He spent nearly an hour on the phone with Dabo sunday, and Napier/Pearman are to be in VA today to meet him. Just cross your fingers.

OL J. Schofield reaffirmed his commitment to Tennessee this weekend, but hopefully Kirkpatrick will consider us for a visit this weekend. We still have a good shot with Tim Simon, see yesterday's blog for the link.

Napier was interviewd by The State here, and basically says the same things he said in his TI interview, but more focused on recruiting here.

Official visits for this weekend, as of Monday:
Blake Burgess-OL-6'4" 260-no star rating
Tyler Felt-OG-6'4" 252-no star rating, Shrine Bowl long-snapper
Darrell Smith-TE-2 stars, teammate of K. Kelly and Dre Kirkpatrick
Donny McElveen-QB-2 stars, Summerville QB

and a few kickers, none of which will get an offer, but I'm not covering kickers.

Kirkpatrick would be the best, but we wont know til mid-week.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Swinney interviewed

Dabo and Brad went to Aiken this weekend to talk to students about academics, not football. He was interviewed by the Aiken Standard here. Its a pretty basic, short interview.

AS: I know you can't speak on specifics (per NCAA rules), but how has recruiting gone so far?

DS: Recruiting is going well. We are going to finish with a strong, strong finish. It is not going to be a very big class, because we only had 17 scholarship seniors, but we will probably sign 17 to 19 kids and it is going to be a great class. I am excited about my first group.

This is a couple more than Napier has been quoted on. He went on to say the QB job is an open competition (which of course he should), we're going to have problems at safety, and the team is going back to work on fundamentals and the basics this spring (not a new offense).

James Davis was also interviewed by Scout just before the game yesterday.

An alabama blog talks about Clemson making efforts to steal Tim Simon away from the state, and Ole Piss.

An AJC article about the Clemson-GT game tonight is here.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Oh well....another day.

A look into how clueless our players were last night is right here. If your starting power forward does not know what UNC is doing, then that says alot about the team's preparation for the game. That forces me to put the loss squarely on Oliver Purnell. Here's a thought Trevor, if you want the ball, go to the basket with aggression when you touch it. If we cannot play tough inside, we are not going to beat good teams.

I am not calling for OP's head, because I think he's a good coach, and I have not forgotten the days of Clifford or Shyatt, but I wasn't happy with the halftime adjustments vs. WF, and wasnt last night either. We just have to improve in transition, and our ball-handling of our guards must improve. We have GT coming up, and cannot afford a letdown now.

RubtheRock has a two-part interview with Levon Kirkland that's fairly interesting, check it out.

SmartFootball has an explanation of a zone-blitz that Clemson fans are going to see alot of this year with Steele calling the defense. We're going to go through some defensive strategies this offseason, since I have a copy of Saban's LSU defensive playbook.


We realistically have a shot with 4 players: Tajh Boyd, Kendall Kelly, Tim Simon, and J. Schofield. Sam Montgomery, who the hell knows. Napier has mentioned that they will not be offering fallbacks, but I still think they'd offer Roderic Blunt. I think our best shot is with Kelly.

Dabo has his in-home contact with Boyd friday, and he is the last of the HC's to make their in-home visit (NCAA rules allow only one in-home from the HC). Tressel and Bellotti have already been in, and his parents did not accompany him to Oregon. I think its between us and Ohio State. Either way he'll have to RS a year, and then could be playing behind Korn/Parker or T. Pryor.

Schofield's parents love Swinney and Scott, but Tennessee is a childhood favorite of his, and he visits UT this weekend. It is his 2nd and final official. After his Clemson visit he did think we were even (he rated it an "8"), so theres hope.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Clemson @ UNC

Well theres not much point in previewing it, we all know the 0-for-53 record exists, and it may or may not piss you off. Some people don't care and/or are just resigned to losing tonight. I know that it is possible, since I was on the floor the day that we beat #1 UNC @ home (vs. Vanilla Ice), on the same day that Dale Earnhardt died.

We never got the press for it, all of about 2 minutes thanks to the Daytona crash, but we will if we do it tonight.

I don't buy into the 13.5 point line, there is no way would I put this one over 10, more like 6-8.

Plyler and Strelow have written previews, and there are others, but I think Strelow has it on the money. The book is out on Booker and Sykes, and if they don't step up inside, or at least have success passing back out to the open shooters and setting screens on the perimeter, we're not going to win. Conversely, our defense showed its weakness in transition, which has been the case for as long as I can remember for Clemson, to tell you the truth. The best teams are always great in transition, and we're not there yet, but things can happen.

What you can expect:
-Booker will foul out. My hope is that he hammers Hansbrough on every foul. They'll call it anyway, so he might as well. He has to play with authority and to the utmost level he can.

-Hansbrough will get alot of tickytack stuff from the referees, and likely end up with at least 10 FT attempts. Of course, he will never commit more than 2 fouls and never commit traveling, because he is the anointed one. There will be numerous stories about his parents, and at least 3 shots of them on TV.

-Clemson will choke at the FT line when we have a chance to win, but we won't get many foul calls and likely won't have 20 shots at the line. UNC will have at least 25.

-The 0-for-53 streak will be mentioned at least 5 times, more if the lead is large late.

-Dicky V will say "baby" at least 25 times. I suggest you take a shot for each one.

Go Tigers.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Monday News


McFarland hit in the looks to me like he just ran right into the stands, and the guy grabbed him to protect himself, then McFarland got ticked.

Ron Morris wrote a nice article about the WF game, a definite deviation for him from his usual bomb-throwing tactics.

That also is how long it has been since Clemson was considered a serious threat in ACC basketball circles. The difference is that Clemson now appears to be built more for the long haul.

The Tigers were not up to the challenge Saturday against what might be the best team in the land. Even in the loss, though, Clemson showed signs of being an outstanding team. It battled from 14 points down in the second half to within a point. At times, it forced Wake Forest into the kind of hectic pace that favors Clemson.

According to Tim Bourret, the noise level reached 110db in Littlejohn during the game when we got close in the 2nd half. It reached 112 at one point in the last top 5 matchup versus WF in 1997, before we got screwed on the foul at the end.

This week, the Coaches Poll still has us at #9. WF is the new #1, which they deserve.

Now we've just got to get the Chapel Hill monkey off our backs wednesday night.

Rivals has Clemson rated #20, and a good FREE article is posted here, previewing the season.

-Corey Addison, a SC committed Safety was in Clemson this weekend, but appears to be still headed to SC.

-Jonathan Scott, another Safety who visited the weekend previously, committed to West Virginia. Together, the two losses hurt Clemson, as we need at least 2 safeties in this class.

-Tajh Boyd rated his visit a "8.5-9" and said he thoroughly enjoyed it, Ohio State and Oregon have already recieved visits, and we're in his top 3.

-Kendall Kelly rated his visit a "10" and said that "Its special up there", his pickup would be huge. Clemson needs a second WR commit in this class. He still is planning to visit LSU and has visited Alabama.

-WR Jamal Patterson and RB Mike Gillislee were scheduled visits for this weekend, but have pulled off. That article also mentions DB Justin Green, OT Jerquari Schofield, and QB D. McElveen. McElveen will be here if Clemson offers.

-Committed LB Quandon Christian visited NC State, and didnt rule out the possibility of switching commitments, yet still says he's committed to Clemson.

Ron West has accepted the Co-DC job at Tulsa, per CUTigers.

Steele and Napier have had recent interviews that have shed some light on their philosophies for next year. I'll give a brief synopsis of each:

Steele: Base will be a 4-3, man pressure when necessary, but wont look much different from what VK has done, and he's trying to use the same terminology with his new playbook.
"I love to pressure. I love to create bad plays for offenses with pressure. It's got a lot of pressure in it. It's got a lot of fire-zone pressure in it. We'll man up when we need to, and then all-out blitz and deny the ball on down and distances that predicate that."

He hasn't decided whether to coach from the press box or not. D. McDaniel will move to SS.

Napier: The staff is going to visit Oklahoma and Texas during the offseason (Dabo has said so as well), where they'll just look at some concepts. Oklahoma's offense uses the Brad Scott hurry-up-and-wait concept alot, and we might see some of that this year. Expect them to study Texas' usage of Colt McCoy as a running threat, but we are not installing the AirRaid+Power-like scheme of OU, nor the Texas offense, just a few concepts. Otherwise, the offense will still be two-TE, multiple power system, with no-huddle. Zone Read plays will return to the offense next season, after being absent since the Dantzler days. He ran an I-formation offense with PA at Furman, but the I is not one of the things they intend to reinstate, unfortunately.

The Zone Read:

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Clemson falls to WF 78-68

Well by now, everyone knows we lost, and Larry Williams gives his views on it here. I was more pissed off about it earlier, but WF is the better team, and we're just not at their level quite yet. We're better than we played, but thats got to be proven on the court against top teams, and we haven't yet.

Early on, neither team shot well, and Oglesby was essentially the offense at the beginning, but like OP said in the LW article, we got out of our plan. OP didnt help by sticking to full-court the entire game either, in my opinion. WF was playing outstanding defensively, especially in the paint, but were too quick and generally sloppy as well, and Clemson never took advantage of it in the 1st half, when we were down 32-27.

Clemson didnt seem to adjust to the transition game at all. Purnell apparently elected to remain in full-court press, while WF cut us to pieces in the transition passing because we were never getting down court quick enough to stop them. When we did, backdoor cuts ate us up several times, and our poor presence inside never stopped the post baskets.

I believe Purnell should've gone to a half-court press at halftime, but he stuck with it. Give WF credit for beating us at our own game.

Our offense lacked rhythm the entire game. Bad a 3pt shooting, bad inside, OK in transition (offensively)...

If one player can be singled out for playing badly, its Raymond Sykes. Could you please work on your layup skills? I can't recall more shots popped back up to the basket in a game, and not gone in. Sykes is usually OK at defense, but not today, nor Booker.

I realize WF was all over us inside, but our inability to go to the post with authority (Booker too) was pitiful, and we never looked to pass back out to a shooter when they were coming open which would've forced WF to pull people off and not be as aggressive in their press. K.C. Rivers should not be playing at the low post.

The end of your life W....

No Clemson stuff in the house? Gimme a break.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Recruiting News: Jan. 17 visits

Corey Addison - S (6', 187lbs) - 3-star. Soft verbal to SC, but Charlie Harbison is making in-roads with him. He is visiting Illinois and Vandy next, but has offers from Miami and LSU.

Kendall Kelly - WR (6'4", 210) - 4 star. Rated #26 at his position by Rivals. From Gadsden, AL. Heavily recruited by Swinney, Rumph, and Harbison. He's already visited Alabama and has alot of friends there, and will go to LSU next week. He says we're in his Top 3. Dre Kirkpatrick, who was a big Clemson target before committing to Alabama, is his teammate.

Tajh Boyd - QB (6'1, 208) - 4 star. Rated #4 at his position. Changes his mind like a woman. Has been committed to West Virginia and Tenn. before, and was leaning to Ohio State two weeks ago. Now, it appears that he's an Oregon lean. We're lucky to get a visit, but thats all you can hope for really, and we will be his last visit. He's being recruited by Napier and Pearman.

-Eric Fields has the early makings of an academic casualty, but says he will sign. If a student does not have the test score, he cannot make an official visit. Its unfortunate, since he is an Under-Armor All-American LB. Here's a quote about him from ESPN:

Clemson's current top prospect would fill a major need for the Tigers. Under Armour All-American linebacker Eric Fields (Warner Robins, Ga./Northside) is still a bit raw and needs to add bulk but can run and has a tall frame. Fields has good range and can be an asset in pass coverage as a linebacker. He will make plays but will need to develop his game; he is best on the move and could have difficulty playing in tight spaces. Fields has good tools, but at this point, he may be a slightly better athlete than football player. Still, his upside is nice for Tigers fans.

-Terrell Mitchell plans to visit on the 31st.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

One more year...

Video produced by ShoelessCU

CJ coming back for 2009.

CLEMSON – C.J. Spiller said today he would return for his final season of eligibility at Clemson University rather than enter the NFL Draft.

Spiller, a junior from Lake Butler, Fla., took the decision to the wire. The NFL deadline is midnight tonight.

One of the most electric offensive players in Clemson history, Spiller was projected as a late first round or early second round pick.

He holds Clemson records for career all-purpose yardage (4,885) and has scored 30 touchdowns, 12 on plays of 50 yards or more including two kickoff returns.

Spiller has rushed for 2,335 yards in three seasons, caught passes for 915 yards and in 2008 passed for a touchdown.

Next year...

Did they really just do this? Les Miles Syndrome.

Please tell me crazy Jawja fan did not just compare God to Les Miles?

(Ok, I know the post is tongue-in-cheek, so here is our tongue-in-cheek response to it)

The 11th Commandment says: Thou Shalt not besmirch the name of Danny Ford. And you crazy jawja fans just did.

I recognized how analogous the two men are when Coach Miles called for the onside kick against Georgia Tech. It was wild! It was wacky! It was insane! However, it also worked, and not because of random dumb luck, either. It was a calculated gamble. Yes, it was bold, but it was also shrewd. It was the decision of a coach intelligent enough to make an accurate assessment of the odds and gutsy enough to run the risk of having the percentages play out differently.

WTF. Youre basing it off of that and the Treadwell kick? DF wouldnt do the crazy shit Les Miles does. There's a key difference between these two men: Les is stupid crazy, Danny was smart crazy. DF might not know shit about anything else, but he did know how to call a game.

We both hate Les Miles, especially as a gameday coach. The reason is that what DF did on gameday made sense, what Les does makes absofuckinglutely no sense. I've been here every year since Les came on, so I've seen all the stupidity in person. I'm going to pick a few stupid things Les did, which define the Les Miles Syndrome.

#1. The fake punt against Arizona State, in Les' first game (post-Katrina).

Lets just call a fake punt FROM DEEP IN LSU TERRITORY early in the game. Les said afterwards the punter made the call himself, horseshit Les, you fucked up and didnt want anyone to know how stupid that call was. Yeah, tell me DF would've done that. What followed was superior talent bailing Les out at the end of the game, which became his staple.

#2. The loss to Tennessee, after Rita ran through.

Leading 21-0 at halftime, and completely dominating Tenn. on a 100F monday night (where I lost at least 10 lbs.), Les decides to completely stop throwing the ball, and just runs up the middle every play for the 2nd half. Clausen, #1 asshole, flips off the student section after scoring the leading touchdown late. In what would become a hallmark of Les Miles football, he decides to start playing football again in the late 4th quarter, but makes a bunch of stupid ass playcalls and comes up short at the end. It was the most pissed off I have ever been at an LSU game.

#3. Auburn 2007, (hell the whole 2007 season) just watch the Clock. You're in FG range already, the clock is running under 15 seconds after the last play. What does DF do? He runs the clock all the way down, calls his last timeout, kicks the FG. See Treadwell.

That was the 2nd most pissed off I've ever been at an LSU game. If that pass falls incomplete, Les gets castrated on the spot by crazy-ass LSU fans and no national championship.

#4. Florida 2007. Go for 4th down 5 times and get every one. What coach in his right mind does that shit? I admit I wanted him to go for it for the ones in UF territory that were out of FG range, including the ones where you had to on the final drive. Further proof that LSU's superior talent saved Les from castration. You say: "well he's showing confidence in his team"...well that doesnt mean you test fate over and over again.

#5. The Les Miles offensive philosophy: "Run twice up the middle, get nothing, then throw a bomb" See the entire career of J. Russell. See Florida 2006.

#6. The 2008 season, the Dual-DC system. A year after all his playmakers graduated, Les decides to keep the fabulous J.Lee in each game long enough to throw enough pick-6's to lose every game. Instead of progressing after the Auburn game, he gets WORSE, as does the D. UGA-enough points on turnovers to make up the difference in score, Alabama-2 TDs in the first half because of Lee, Troy-dont get me started, Arky-WTF? Then, after the season is over, he puts in Jefferson and a gameplan, and thumps GT. Jefferson wasnt hurt all year, he could've come in, yet Les left him on the bench.

#7. Tulane 2007. LSU fucks around the entire game, then superior talent wins it at the end. Kentucky 2007, one big clusterfuck of shittyness.

Enough 2007 references? This man wins on the edge of his teeth every week. Les Miles is the LSU version of Ken Hatfield, but with a better record in big games. Les' saving grace is that if you give him a month to prepare, he will beat you, just like Ford. Les won't make it two more years at LSU.

Could DF have won all these games? There's no telling, DF's gameplan was entirely different, but he was a winner, and I'd say he'd have won a majority of them. Danny would go for a tie if he had to, to win the conference. He'd piss enough people off after he lost to be banished to the press box, but he wouldnt do stupid shit during a game that might cost his team a victory.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Wednesday News

Heather Dinich gives a short summary of the ACC season and then final power rankings, but basically all you hear is that Clemson is average and Bowden was fired, whoopee.

Kevin Steele talks about how he and Dabo met and worked the whole thing out. He mentions the defensive schemes he'll run, and points out that the coverage packages are the only difference between the Mickey Andrews' defense and what Saban runs. Saban tends to run "Robber" and combo coverages, while Andrews will stick mostly to a press or zone.
"The defense that Nick Saban ran at LSU is not really a whole lot different than Florida State's, to be quite frank with you, other than some coverage stuff," he said. "And it's not at all different than what we ran at the Carolina Panthers.

"That defense at LSU was run out of 4-3 personnel, yet the Miami Dolphins ran it out of 3-4 personnel."

Designed to take advantage of personnel mismatches similar to NFL teams, most of the differences will be subtle.

In fact, Steele said, after watching all of the Tigers' game from last season, he believes next season's team won't look "too terribly different than Vic and those guys ran."

Baseball again ranked 26th
This is the first I've heard of Kris Benson making a comeback. He was awesome here, but for some reason it never worked in the pro's for any of those great pitchers on that team.

National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association posted its preseason poll, and like the last one, we're opening at #26.

Dick Vitale finally writes an article about Clemson vs. WF, but he really isn't bragging about Clemson at all. Big surprise, but we'll get respect when we start beating teams like WF or UNC or Duke on the road. I have hope that we'll beat WF, but @UNC is another story altogether.

OH MY GOD A REBIRTH! Carolina wins the National Championship next year, just you wait and see. Thankfully Bart Wright has a little common sense though:
Usually, when there's history in the making on a college football team, you can sense it here and there during the season, but that was never the case in 2008 for the University of South Carolina.
Oh, they had their moments, like the early season loss at Vanderbilt that hinted it might be another of those seasons of Carolina underachievement their fans have come to know and loathe.

Recruiting News:
--Tajh Boyd is still considering a visit, possibly for this weekend, but more likely for the 24th. Napier and Pearman are recruiting him. I see us as an outside shot right now.

--Schofield will be making a visit to Tennessee in a couple weeks, and then we'll see if we can pull him away from their list.

--Clemson has completely backed off Larry Raper.

--TE Terrell Mitchell, who was pushed back by the Staff for last weekend, says he is planning to visit this weekend. He is the only TE on the board this year.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Tebow chats with Erin Andrews, then announces his intentions...

And then....

MIAMI (SP) -- Shortly after leading the Florida Gators to a national
championship with a 24-14 win over Oklahoma, junior quarterback Tim
Tebow announced that he would skip his senior season and ascend
directly into heaven.

Tebow entered the press room to wild applause. A reporter for a 24-
hour cable sports network burst into tears when the 2007 Heisman
winner entered the room. Another threw a pair of boxer shorts on the
podium. Tebow smiled at the gesture and several sports reporters

"Sorry I'm late," Tebow began. "There was a six-year-old boy with
cancer in row 54 and I had to make my way through the crowd to heal

"I want to start by saying that playing quarterback for the University
of Florida, winning two national championships, has been a great
honor. There has been some speculation about my future and I want to
clear that up right now," he continued.

"Don't go, Tim!" a reporter shouted from the back of the room.

"After much consideration, I have decided to skip my senior season at
the University of Florida and ascend directly into Heaven," Tebow
announced. Upon making the announcement, Tebow was bathed in a
blinding white light and vanished.

In response to the news, ESPN announced they will have a month-long
tribute to Tebow. ESPN2 will now be known as ESPN-TEBOW and will
feature Tebow highlights (including home videos of Tebow's childhood),
re-airings of past interviews, Tebow-centric analysis by ESPN air
personalities, a Tebow quiz show and a reality show to find the "most
Tebow-like" person in America.

"He wasn't just the greatest player in college football history," said
a college football writer at the press conference, tears streaming
down his face. "He might have been the greatest person to ever walk on

Monday, January 12, 2009

Topic Jumping

Dabo came out with coaching assignments for the 2009 season today with little surprises in the mix. At one point I thought that he may go out and find an offensive coordinator with some coordinating experience, but it is obvoius that Swinney is comfortable with Napier. His move to award B. Napier the OC job was also made to lock Billy into this role, as he has done a good job recruiting over the past few years.

Speaking of recruiting, we all expect a few signatures to come from this past recruiting weekend. North Carolina native Spencer Shuey gave the Tigers a verbal. I don't know much about this guy, only that he had offers from Kentucky, Duke, and the Illinois Zookers. I am a little dissapointed that Tajih Boyd chose not to visit this weekend, and it looks as though he will roll with the sweater vest or sport some rediculous combination of green and yellow next season. It also looks as though Spurlid is banned from a high school campus sorry, your scholly has been pulled.

And for all the jackasses out there (i.e., Tigernet All-Americans) who believe that the medioracy that Tom Bowden brought to Tigertown was unavoidable, that Clemson cannot compete with such parity, and that the field is so level and Clemson at such a disadvantage needs to talk to Oliver Purnell. What he has done at Clemson is just short of turning water into wine, especially with the group left behind by Shyatt. While I do think that Clemson is getting a tremendous amount of hype, I will have to admit that I am (for the first time in a decade) actually expecting the Tigers to be successful on the hardwood.

Finally, who isn't excited about one more season of kissing Tim Tebow's ass. Yeah, I get it, the guy is a good guy. He is a missionary. He won a Heisman trophy. He has two championship rings. He rolls with well endowed women. All of this is great, but don't jam it down the public's throat every chance you get (i.e., Jerome Bettis is from Detroit, Phillip Rivers has a wife and kids, etc...). Also, he may want to figure out how to throw a spiral in order to play in the professional ranks. It would be nice for him to run for 2 bills and throw for 3 against the chickens in '09.

Swinney Post-Season News Conference.

Nothing came out of this that we dont already know, but several outlets are talking about it.

The most interesting piece is that Charlie Harbison will be splitting some DC duties with Steele, which I'm not really excited about. Harbison is a good coach, and his defenses have done well, but having Dual-DCs is a big clusterfuck waiting to happen. One man needs to be the boss. As I expected (and hoped), we'll be a 4-3 defensive base set.


-Ron West interviewed at Tulsa (again) and Presbyterian, and will have an admin position if he stays at Clemson. I don't see that happening, even though he's a Clemson man.
-Napier is OC/QB Coach, and still Recruiting Coordinator for now, but that might change. Woo. He merely says he's going to "attack" offensively.....hopefully more than you did in that Bowl game Dabo. He plans to use the QB to attack in the running game, which means option plays and designed keepers for Korn. Kyle Parker will miss only a few Baseball games because of spring practice, and he's discussing things with Leggett.
-Pearman is Asst. HC, TE, OT.
-Powell is RBs, ST Coordinator.
-Jeff Scott is WRs, might be the next Rec. Coord.
-Rumph is DE, Blackwell now DT.
-Fat Brad is C/OG coach.
-He doesnt think anyone besides CJ will leave early, but not sure on CJ himself.
-Rendrick Taylor is at 265lbs, which makes him and H-back/TE type, and has 7% bodyfat. Christ.

My only hope, now that things appear final with the staff, is that Napier and Swinney (who thankfully isnt afraid to interject in play-calling) do institute more of a run-oriented spread option attack, and ditch this multiple power "pods" formation crap we've been running. If youre going to run a spread, run a spread, but be able to run the ball between the tackles. Bunching everyone up close and using tight splits only to throw the football from that (when you cant execute play-action or run the ball) makes no sense to me.

Of course if they teach Korn how to run PA and can run the ball otherwise, I think its fine, but none of them on the staff have proven they can do that.

Recruiting news:
Spencer Shuey committed over the weekend, and we made some progress on OT JaQuari Schofield (4), S Jonathan Scott (3), and DB Justin Green (4) and Tim Simon. While Shuey is only a 2-star, I think its important to note his size (which is big for a HS LB). This kid displayed his talents at the Shrine Bowl, and both Clemson and UNC came for him late. Roderic Blunt looks to be a fallback choice.

Sam Montgomery has been the eye of Steele since coming on staff, and hopefully we can talk him into an official visit. He's been here several times on unofficials. LSU is still the team to beat, but changed DL coaches recently so we have a chance.

TE Terrell Mitchell, the only real TE on our board this year, did not make his visit. "No more room" when we only had 13 guys slated to come in? That sounds like we're slowly backing off, and will be using R.Taylor in the TE rotation.

Basketball is now ranked #9 and #10 in the Coaches and AP Polls, respectively. Hopefully we can back it up over the next couple weeks, but my opinion is that we're a little high right now.

And something funny....

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Dumb shit on TNet.

I generally don't call individual TNetters out and point out their screennames unless they go and say something really fucking stupid.

Well this particular idiot did.

Right HC in place? Explain it to me how the RIGHT HC FAILED to win the ACC, despite having better talent the last few, and beating FSU soundly? 2008 was an "off" year, what about a GINORMOUS clusterfuck starting from day one, kinda like the start of 2003, the end of 2006, 2007. If the RIGHT HC was in place, he'd have fired Spence or taken away his playcalling duties long ago. If the fans never bitched, we'd still be running a Brad Scott offense where I can could the plays from the sidelines myself, with no background in coaching. I'm supposed to put up with losses to fucking Wake Forest and Duke after stomping FSU or Miami the weekend beforehand?

Bobby Bowden had a different situation in the beginning, but he also actually WON in the beginning, which helped him get a solid footing for the up & down years he had in the '80s. If Tom had won the ACC a couple times, he couldve finished with the same record that he did when he was fired, and he'd be here today.

How is it an undefeated team BACKED into a National Championship? We beat the #3 defending NC Georgia team early, and Pitt LOST the last week of the season to Penn State, knocking them out of the #1 spot. The Sugar Bowl loss by Pitt had zilch to do with it.

Then, as people tried to tell Mr. Dipshit how wrong his facts were, he tried to tell them otherwise and committed a cardinal sin.

The greatest coach in Clemson history isnt the standard? The guy who won all those ACC titles and a national championship isnt the standard? If Danny Ford was not fired by that sumbitch Max Lennon, you're the type of dumbass that would still be clamoring for his job because he doesnt throw the ball.

Maybe you should stop listening to your Clucker friend's bullshit about NCAA investigations. Do the research asshole.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Breakfast with Danny Ford

Obviously both of us are huge Ford fans, as we both grew up in the '80s and can recall the days when we used to dominate people on the field. However, I had never met Coach Ford in person until a few weeks ago when my mother arranged it all as a birthday present to me.

Since I'm at LSU for most of the year, and thankfully this semester will be my last, I always have meetings arranged by family members at home with other prominent (read, rich) Clemson grads to help me find a job somewhere close to home after I finish the Ph.D., when I'm able to come home to visit between semesters. So, when my mother told me she had arranged for me to meet someone who was a Clemson grad in Anderson, who held a position above hers in her company, I wasnt surprised. I tend to find it odd that these people request to meet me sometimes, but thats another issue. (She probably brags too much)

On the 22nd, she said she was getting me up early to go meet this guy in Anderson for breakfast or lunch, and that he knew Coach Ford and that she was taking things along to give him to have Coach Ford sign for me as a gift. So, I picked up my favorite block-C hat and my game-used Clemson helmet.

The next morning when we got to Clemson, we went into Knickerbockers, Variety and Frame, and Tigersports Shop and a couple of the other stores to find something I wanted signed if he got the chance to sign them. I of course went in and looked for another block-C hat, but didnt find one of the style he used to wear (like the pic on the right), and I dont like the blue one that much (link). I have since found a good (close) imitation here.

Anyway, the only thing I picked up for him to sign there was a few tiger rags and a lithograph from Variety and Frame and went back to the car, where I saw her pick up her cell and call someone. When she said the words "Coach Ford" my jaw hit the floor.

He said to meet him over at Dyers Restaurant (a little ways from Mac's) and not a couple miles from his farm. Of course I'm flipping out at this point.

So now the back story:
My mother is a member at a driving range in Boiling Springs where the owner is friends with the director of the Spartanburg Touchdown Club, so he gave his number to her. She then called him and asked if there was any way she could set up a meeting between me and Coach Ford as a birthday gift. She had joked about this to me a couple times in the past, but I never paid her any attention.

He gave her Coach Ford's number, saying "Be sure to tell Danny that you gave me $20 for it."

Well she just called him up one day, and told him about me, and how I gave up playing football the day he was fired by Max Lennon.

When she said she gave $20 for his number, he said "you better not have, I'll kick his ass."

He said that he'd meet her one day and they'd talk about how to set the whole thing up. This was back in October, and although I did get to come home for the GT game, she couldnt arrange it for then.

But she called him again late in November, and asked if they could set it up for my birthday (end of Dec.). He said he was speaking in Union that night at the Armory and that he was on his way to Spartanburg to see his dentist. She called and tried to get a ticket, and couldnt, then called him back and he said to just follow him from the dentist's office down there and he'd get her in. She asked him which dentist, and he said, "Hell I dont know, some foreigner"...she asked him what time and he said, "I dont have an appointment, I just show up" but he did tell her where it was so she met him over there and followed him down to Union, where he pulled up at the front door onto the grass. Danny Ford don't need no damn parking spot.

When he walked in the door, that cocky arrogant attitude we all remember came back, and its a definite change from the approachable man he is otherwise.

So after the meeting she talked to him just a minute (since people hound him) and said she'd call him in a couple weeks to set it up. It turns out that he was going to get his grandkids in after Christmas, so we'd have to do it before my birthday.

Now, we're driving over to Dyers that morning, and I see this old Ford diesel with no bed sitting outside, covered in mud and thought to myself "That's gotta be his."

I walked inside and saw him surrounded, by waitresses and old folks just jabbering in his ear, and shook his hand. He didnt want breakfast at first, but after I ordered mine he piped up. He said he ate lunch there just about every day and it was usually packed. He asked me what my degree was in and figured I was a "pretty smart fella" to be getting the doctorate in this stuff.

We sat there with him for about an hour, where we talked about horses (we used to raise them), his farm, and what he thought about Dabo Swinney and the way things were going. I asked him what he thought of Dabo and he just said, "Well we'll see in a couple weeks. He's got some of my old boys on his staff now." I didnt get the sense that he felt sure about the Dabo hire, but that's just my impression, not words from his own mouth. After meeting him I can tell that he's pretty measured in what he says, since most stuff gets published (and I guess I'm doing that here, but I wouldnt post that he didnt like Dabo even if he'd said it).

She asked him about Arkansas, and he said, "...didn't have no players...but the last year (97) we played alot of freshmen who did well later" (Ford commented back in the day how shabby the program was when he came in 94). Nutt's first team in '98 won 9 games.

Of course all I wanted to ask him was about 1989 and the rumors about 1999, but I didnt muster up the courage. I figured that he didnt want to or wouldnt answer, or is just tired of hearing that stuff again and again. Most of the time with him I was just sitting there listening.

He was going to a funeral of a UGA booster that day, and I asked him "Why would a Georgia fan want you there? I figure he'd hate you," to which Ford chuckled and said, "Well he cain't now, he's dead."

After I had him sign some things, and took the pictures, he commented on my size and I told him that if that sumbitch Lennon hadn't run him off, I'd have played for him. He said, "Yeah, he was a piece of work wasnt he?"

She did ask him if he missed coaching, saying that she could still see it in him, and he just winked and looked at me, "Your mama's pretty smart."

Well I was lucky to get a good one.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Recruiting News

Clemson visits for Jan. 9, with star rating:

Roderick McDowell-RB-4 already committed
Spencer Shuey-LB-2 6-4, 240lbs., but being recruited by UNC and Tenn.
Sam Barrington-LB-3, this will be his last official visit-CANCELLED
Quandon Christian-LB-3 already committed
Quinton Washington-OT-4, still coming as of Jan. 7, but SC is the team to beat here.
Justin Green-DB-4, already committed to Ohio State
Terrell Mitchell-TE-3, recruited by UGA and Kentucky, UGA is the team to beat.
Corico Hawkins-ILB-3, already committed
Eric Fields-ILB-3, already committed-CANCELLED
Brandon Thomas-T-4, already committed.
Tim Simon-OLB-3, an Ole Miss commit but we have a shot.
Roderic Blunt-ILB-3, son of Rodney Blunt
Kyrhi Thornton-DT-3, another Hargrave player-CANCELLED
JerQuari Schofield-OT-3, very big at 6'6" 300, already committed to Tennessee.
Tevin McCaskill also cancelled.
Jonathan Scott-S-3, also coming in this weekend, Scott also has visited USC, West Virginia and Alabama and is down to those three with Clemson. WVU lean.
Tyler Shatley-ATH-3, already committed, but we dont know quite where he'll play at the LOS.

Jamal Patterson - WR - Stanford commitment "considering" a visit.

Izaan Cross was mentioned, but hasnt confirmed his visit.

This is probably the biggest weekend we have left, but we do still have prospects coming on the 16th and 23rd.

Bryce McNeal, the #1 WR in Minnesota and #14 nationally, picked Clemson at the Army High School All American game over the weekend. He was recruited by Dabo and Jeff Scott. This was a guy we were lucky to get a visit from, and it was our visit that swayed him over Oregon and Oklahoma. Unfortunately he pulled a Holtz, and when he announced he said "University of Clemson." Hopefully he's smarter than Granny Clampett.

Clemson is competing with BC for a visit from Tajh Boyd, and if the rumors of Jagz' firing are true, we may get lucky. Unfortunately TNet believes he's the next Korn, and people already think he'll only sit as backup one year here after the RS....which proves the vast stupidity of TardNet. Boyd is a 4-star QB and possibly a Woody/Vick clone.

*****As of tonight, TI reports we are getting the visit from Boyd this weekend*****But this has been retracted and he is not visiting this weekend.

Dabo had an in-house with Leon Mackey, DE from Hargrave, and pulled in another 4-star commitment.

Expect Clemson to oversign by 2-3 players in this class, because a couple of these guys are on thin ice academically.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Gator Bowl Grade Sheet/Looking Forward

Clemson couldn't seem to put everything together offensively. The long reception by Ford was refreshing. Drives and playcalling seemed a bit out of rhythm, with Clemson being unable to capitalize on excellent field position throughout the first half.

Passing Game: Cullen Harper had happy feet all day, and subsequently his stat line read 17 for 37, 206 yards passing, 2 TD's and 2 INT's. He also had -42 yards rushing, including a piss poor sack taken at the end of the game.

Running Game: What running game? We were unable to produce nice stats in this area. When Clemson sustained drives with a consistent rushing attack, the Tigers would get in the Red Zone and start throwing the ball. You are not going to be successful at Clemson (especially with the poor play by your signal caller) without being able to run the football.

Play Calling: The pace of play in general seemed choppy. Drives stalled in certain places due to the choppy playcalling. 37 passes compared to 20 rushing attempts is too lopsided.

Intangables: Clemson's offense sputtered all day, but the worst part of the gameday execution was the first play of the football game. Clemson has had a freaking month to prepare for this game. We come out and try to get cute on play #1 and waste a timeout to regroup and run the same damn play. The goal is to get 10 yards every four plays not build a rocket, so why are we overcomplicating matters and why can't we at least be prepared for the first (hopefully scripted play)?

Grade: D+

Rushing: Nebraska had a couple of big gain plays, but my opinion was that the defense played the run well. We (especially early) played well up front and limited the Nebraska offense. I thought Clemson looked very physical up front.

Passing: Ganz stat line was very similar to Cullen's (minus one int). They completed some nice TD passes that were perfectly thrown balls. Clemson was able to successfully employ some blitz packages and got to the QB all afternoon. Bowers played extremely well, and I am especially excited to see his progress next season.

Intangibles: Clemson played hard on defense all afternoon, scoring a touchdown and holding their own against Neb. I thought the Tigers got hosed on the TD called back (I think that the ball was knocked out before the knee hit the ground), and was pleased to see a more aggressive blitz package.

Grade: B+

Special Teams: I thought we fixed this crap, but we had a punt and a field goal blocked. This area of the game really let the Tigers down, as the punt resulted in 3 easy points for the opponent (luckily only 3 points) and the failed field goal (for those scoring at home) would have given the Tigers 3 more points. This combination would require that Clemson kick a field goal at the end of the game to win. The Cornhuskers also started the 2nd half with great field position on the half-opening kickoff.

Grade: D

Coaching: This was really a tale of two staffs. The defensive portion looked good. The players were ready to play and were well prepared for Nebraska's attack (as evidence by the lateral returned for a touchdown). The defense came out and confused Nebraska with blitz packages that were missing earlier in the year. Neb sustained three (3) drives all afternoon. The offensive side of the ball looked less orgainized. We took the field and could not execute the first offensive play of the game without burning a timout. Our running game was non-existant. The signal-caller thinks he is Randall Cunningham. There were too many shades of the Rob Spence and his beginning of the year debacle. The special teams woes were chronicled above. I wish I could give grades for independent units, but this staff is one staff (grades are lopsided, as the defense immensely helped the other two facets of the staff).

Grade: C

Overall: Tom Bowden would not have gotten this team to the Gator Bowl this season, much less been able to play with Bo Pelini's squad, so at least we are in better shape now than we were in August. This team played hard all afternoon, so you really cannot fault the effort. Offensively, I am not sure that the Swinney/Napier combination with playcalling has enough real-time experience yet. Good coordinators are able to not only gameplan throughout the week, but also make adjustments as the game progresses. Defensively, we played well up front and did a good job of confusing a pretty good Nebraska offense.

Closing Thoughts: We are still missing a few pieces to the puzzle. Offensive line upgrades/underclassman experience upgrades will help. I also believe that having Korn or Parker under center next season will be an upgrade in talent and decision making.

The loss of Aaron Kelly next year will not really effect gameplay, as he had as many big drops as he did big catches. I am also eager to see Xavier Dye in the mix, and will miss seeing Grisham make his routine plays. The big loss to the WR corps would occur if J. Ford decided to enter this year's draft. I think this would be a bad decision for the Junior, and know that Clemson would miss his speed on offense (assuming we decide to get the ball downfield more often).

Up front offensively, we are pretty young in the two-deep. Hutchinson is gone and Thomas Austin may leave early (the latter would be a big loss to this group). Otherwise, Cory Lambert will be the only senior linemen next year (and he really hasn't done much since arriving on campus). I am really hoping that McClain and Page both contribute a lot next season, as they are both highly prized gigantic linemen from this past recruiting class.

At running back, we will miss James Davis. He ran hard an had a good career with the Tigers. This unit is in for a big shakeup should CJ also choose to turn pro this year. We are all hoping that Jamie Harper lives up to the big billing he got when he signed with Clemson. I am not really sure what role (if any) Rendrick Taylor will play on the '09 team.

Defensively, we will should be outstanding up front, losing only Jackson (and he did not play for most of this season) and Scott. Bowers, Alexander, and Sapp have all played well over the course of their careers. The biggest shoes to fill will obviously be Dorell Scott's.

We have everyone coming back from our linbacking corps. I would like to see Scotty Cooper on the field more as well as more agression in the blitzing category moving forward.

Losing Michael Hamlin will be a blow to the secondary. Otherwise, we should be a veteran group and perform as well as they did this season if Hamlin's void is adequately filled.

Special Teams: I am not too excited about having a kicker who was acedemically ineligable for the bowl game, but I guess Jackson will finally get his chance next year. Dawson Zimmerman should be comparable to the departing Maners.

Overall: Next year could be no worse than this. I am anxious to see how well Dabo bounces back on the recruiting trail and how good the CU defense should be after the new DC (likely Bammer's Steele) is in place. It appears as though B Scott will remain on the staff. Offensively, it will be interesting to see game strategy next season and, hopefully, a better offensive line. My early predictions have us winning 9 games next season.

Kevin Steele brought in as new DC

When it was first mentioned that Steele was a candidate for the job after VK left, people said I was dumb to even think about it. Now I think Swinney pulled off a small coup, stealing Saban's finest recruiter who has a great resume of coaching LBs. Although I've not seen his $$$ terms, I expect him to be making $375K. This move forces Clemson to push out one assistant: Blackwell could join his old boss Paul Rhoads at Iowa State, and TI reports that Ron West is interviewing for another position. One or the other will be gone in the next few weeks, and West is the poorer recruiter.

Steele is a native of Dillon, and went to Furman for one year before transferring to Tennessee and graduating in 1979.

1980-1981 GA at Tenn.
1982-OLB at UT
1983-New Mexico State (LB)
1984-1986-Oklahoma State (LB/TE)
1987-1988-Defensive backs at UT
1989-1994-LB Coach of Nebraska, who won the national title in 94.
1995-1998-LB Coach Carolina Panthers...think Kevin Greene and Lamar Lathon
1999-2002-Baylor HC, 9-36 record, ran a 3-4 defense derived from Dom Capers' system
2002-2006-LB Coach, FSU
2007-Alabama DC
2008-present Alabama Head Defensive Coach

A few things stand out from this, he won a national title at Nebraska and was on the team that played FSU in '92 for the title. During his six years in Lincoln, the Cornhuskers went 60-11, appeared in six bowl games, won four conference championships. Those teams ran an aggressive 4-3 defense, but also alot of 3-4. Then he went to Carolina, where Capers' made the defense good for a few years, going to the NFC Championship game in '96. Those teams ran a 3-4, and ran a complicated zone blitzing scheme. Apparently he couldnt get it to work at Baylor, never going better than 3-9, and going 1-31 against the Big XII. No prominent HC job is going to come his way anytime soon.

Afterwards, he went to FSU and worked under Mickey Andrews, who we all know uses a 4-3 that isnt terribly complicated, but blitzes quite a bit and plays alot of press coverage. Dabo Swinney has intimated that this is the style of defense he wants. In 2005, while working for FSU, he was named Rivals recruiter of the year after they secured the #1 ranked class that year.

When Saban was hired to Bama, he went out and tried to get the best recruiters around who could also coach, and picked Steele. People will point out that Alabama's defense was not awesome last year, but I think everyone who watched them last year knows they were pretty damned good....its just that the defense fell apart towards the end. Alabama's lack of depth and the IMMENSE complexity of a Saban scheme were the major contributors to their slide to finish 7-6. One point that I must concede is that this is Saban's defense, and he calls the shots. The DC is a title, who calls the plays, but everything goes through Nick Saban.

Following last season, South Alabama offered Steele their HC job, and Petrino offered the DC job at Arkansas to young Kirby Smart. Sensing that he was about to lose coaches, Saban "promoted" Steele to Head Defensive Coach and Associate head coach, and Smart to DC and gave them a raise.

Why would he leave Alabama though? Saban is the man who calls the shots on defense, a chance at autonomy and a possible raise, not to mention that Saban is a prick to work for are probably the true reasons. He may believe that this is a better shot at a HC job.

What will he run defensively? While Steele ran a 3-4 at Carolina and most teams in the '80s did as well, I don't see him doing the same here. Andrews' 4-3 system is heavy on the blitz with press coverage, while Saban's is considerably more complex out of a base 3-4 set, but uses alot of 4-3....basically you could see anything out of a Saban defense. Saban's later teams at LSU ran a 4-3 base set, and this year at Alabama he mixed it up considerably when Cody was in the game at NG. EDIT: In Steele's own words, published recently on TI, he will be running a base 4-3 that is considerably different from VK's, as we suspected.

For research on Saban's defense, see this article released before the Clemson/Bama game.

Saban's philosophy is this:
“[Our] philosophy on first and second down is to stop the run and play good zone pass defense. We will occasionally play man-to-man and blitz in this situation. On third down, we will primarily play man-to-man and mix-in some zone and blitzes. We will rush four or more players versus the pass about ninety-percent of the time.

“In all situations, we will defend the inside or middle of the field first – defend inside to outside. Against the run, we will not allow the ball to be run inside. We want to force the ball outside. Against the pass, we will not allow the ball to be thrown deep down the middle or inside. We want to force the ball to be thrown short and/or outside.

“… Finally, our job is to take the ball away from the opponents’ offense and score or set up good field position for our offense. We must knock the ball loose, force mistakes, and cause turnovers. Turnovers and making big plays win games. We will be alert and aggressive and take advantage of every opportunity to come up with the ball . . . . The trademark of our defense will be effort, toughness, and no mental mistakes regarding score or situation in any game

From the article above, I'm pulling out the most pertinent information for Clemson fans. There are two basic schemes Steele will 'likely' run here.

Cover 1 “Robber”

Cover 1 is maybe the most common defense in the SEC. (Though “Cover 2” is close if you lump together all its variants.) Base Cover 1 is quite simple: the “1” refers to a deep safety who aligns down the middle, while all the offense’s skill guys are covered man to man. This doesn’t necessarily mean it is bump and run – it could be loose coverage – but it often is bump and run. The defense needs a great centerfielder back at Free Safety who can stop the deep ball and cover sideline to sideline.

The nice thing about this defense is it is simple and, once you’ve locked in five guys in man and a free safety, you can do whatever you want with the other five. And, maybe most importantly, with just one free-safety deep, the defense can get in a lot of eight-man fronts. On passing downs, the defense can find ways to creatively blitz five guys, have a deep safety, and all the while still account for all five of the offense’s receivers. The defense cannot really outnumber the pass protectors, but it can still collapse the pocket. That’s base Cover 1.

Cover 1 “Robber” works the same, except there are only four rushers and, along with the deep middle safety, another defender comes down to an intermediate level to read the QB’s eyes and “rob” any pass routes over the middle, like curls, in routes, and crossing routes. “Robber” is the most popular term for this technique but Saban’s is “Rat.” (I was always partial to Homer Smith’s term, “floaters,” which is the most descriptive.) There’s nothing magic about this coverage; every NFL team and most BCS college teams use it. Indeed, despite all the bluster about the Indianapolis Colts being a “Cover 2 team,” on first and second down you see lots of Cover 1 and Cover 1 robber from them, except they use their strong safety, Bob Sanders, as the “floater.” The key is for the floater to be able to read run, screen, or pass, and to use his eyes to get to the receiver and the ball. It’s particularly effective nowadays with the increased use of spread formations which most offenses use to open up passing lanes over the middle. Floaters or rat players can stop these inside passes and make game-changing interceptions. Below are some diagrams, and I expect to see Saban use this coverage a lot this season. (As a final note, Cover 1 Robber is useful against spread offense teams with mobile QB’s because the floater’s job becomes to not only read the QB’s eyes on passing downs but also to watch him for scrambles and to simply mirror the him on run plays like the option and the zone read.)

Zone blitz

Saban’s most common coverage behind a zone-blitz is a 3-3 or three-deep and three-intermediate defense with five rushers. Cover two behind a zone blitz is often dangerous because of the added uncovered deep seams, but most defenses feel comfortable with the 3-3.

The thing to remember is that for years, when a team blitzed it was playing either Cover 1 or Cover 0 man (or simply left holes in its zone), and quarterbacks were coached to throw the ball where the blitzer had come from. Nowadays, there’s a common perception that a zone-blitz works because a defensive linemen gets in the throwing lane – no. What the dropping defensive end in the diagram above does is allow the defense as a whole to stay in zone coverage, and further notice who is covering the area where the blitzers came from: the strong safety, who is usually an effective pass defender, certainly moreso than a defensive end. That is how zone-blitzes cause confusion.

If you wish to read more, see the article above. We'll be breaking down the finer points of the Saban scheme during the offseason.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Gator Bowl review, Clemson falls 26-21.

This was a tough but ugly game, both sides continuously made mistakes to try to hand it over to the other team. Fumbles, interceptions, muffed punts, etc. Overall, the two teams looked pretty evenly matched with Clemson having an edge in overall speed. In the first half Clemson's defense made Nebraska look bad, we blitzed heavily and controlled the line of scrimmage. Ganz's receivers were stuck like glue to Clemson defenders and the pressure we managed to get forced some poor throws.

But Clemson's fortunes on offense were evident from the first play of the game. We came out in a standard split-I set and changed to a Wildcat formation, and called a timeout....and then came out and ran the exact same thing after the timeout. What the hell? You have two weeks of practices to do that on the first play?

Then theres the awesomeness of Cullen Harper.....who came out with a bewildered look on his face and decided to jump out of the pocket on nearly every single pass play when a Nebraska player came within 10 feet of him. Had Cullen been coached properly to just stand in the pocket and wait for someone to come open a second longer, we might have capitalized on the great field position we had during the entire first half, particularly the first two drives.

And, as you would expect if you've watched Clemson play all season, the "Thunder" fails to arrive. Clemson showed some rushing early, on the two drives where we moved the ball, we basically ran it down their throats between the tackles....and then when close to the goalline, we stop and throw it. James Davis did not do much with the carries he got, but CJ Spiller showed up today ready to play.

To start the 2nd, Clemson runs the ball all the way down the field, and a horse collar on CJ puts us at 1st and Goal. One run up the middle by JD gets nothing, then Harper does something stupid and tries a pushpass that luckily falls out of bounds, then two more pass plays fail to score, forcing a FG that came up low and bounced off Suh's elbow.

Then Clemson decided to quit running the ball. Nebraska brought up their LBs on run pressures, and after a few gains of zero yardage, Swinney and Napier decide to completely abandon the running game against a team who doesnt substitute their DL often.

Thankfully, the defense did show up ready to play. McDaniel, coming on a blitz that Ganz pointed out before the play, forces a quick pitch on a shotgun read option and knocks the ball loose, picks it up and runs it in 28 yards for the first score to put us ahead 7-0.

Nebraska then went to a quicker paced hurry-up offense and had success, but we got our hits on Ganz nonetheless. Clemson brought 7 guys on several blitzes at the end of their FG scoring drive, something VK would not have done.

Immediately after, Cullen's pass to Spiller in the flat is tipped at the line by Steinkuhler and intercepted. You can't blame that one on Cullen, despite weak throws in the half.

On the next Nebraska play, Clemson blitzed Ganz and C. Butler intercepts one in almost the same place, and is pushed out of bounds inside the Nebraska 20. Clemson scores 2 plays later on 2nd & 22 (following a sack) from the 30 on a good throw by Cullen to Kelly in the corner of the endzone.

Then, for some reason, we stop blitzing Ganz.

To start the 3rd, Nebraska comes out firing and marches downfield and one big play on the sideline put them around the CU 20, and a great play by the NU WR makes it 14-10. We simply got beat on this drive.

Nebraska forces a 3&out on the first Clemson drive of the half and then fails to catch the punt, and Chad Diehl recovers the fumble near midfield. Jacoby Ford outruns the CB and gets behind the safeties and runs down an overthrown Harper pass for the 41 yd TD to make it 21-10. FINALLY JACOBY GETS A DEEP BALL.
The vertical release by the TE forced the Safety to stay close, allowing Jacoby to get behind him.

But the back & forth continued....A 58yd run by Castille (and two missed tackles) put NU at the Clemson 20, and two plays later Ganz found Peterson over the middle on an In-N-Up route for the TD. I wish Cullen would step up in the pocket like Ganz did on that play, instead of running off and tossing it away.

Now, all I wanted Clemson to do was go back to the running game, but apparently rhyme & reason left the offensive staff, and we looked helpless for the rest of the half. Much of the playcalling made no sense after this point, there appeared to be no apparent plan of attack.

On Clemson's next possession, a pass by Harper bounces off Ford's pads and NU intercepts at the Clemson 10. Thankfully the defense forces the FG. 21-20.

Nebraska forces a 3 & out, and Sadat Chambers fails to block Thenarse AT ALL, and they block the punt. Clemson is handing the game back to Nebraska on a platter and is clearly losing focus on offense. The defense forces another 28yd FG, 23-21.

On the next Nebraska drive, Kourtnei Brown puts a hit on Ganz to take him out of the game. Witt comes in on the next play, runs up the middle and fumbles on another big hit by Brown that is returned for a TD by Byron Maxwell, but the review shows that his knee was down at the same time the ball came loose and Nebraska retained possession to punt.

Nebraska scored again on their next drive after a big play put them around the Clemson 10, and the defense forces another FG to make it 26-21.

Clemson's offense managed one good drive to finish the game, after looking awful and confused since the earlier TD. Running a quicker no-huddle, Harper got us to 1st and Goal at the Nebraska 10. Cullen STUPIDLY took a sack and pushed us too far away....THROW IT AWAY IDIOT....The one time he doesnt throw it away or run out of bounds....A pass skipped off CJ's hands on a post and the next one sailed incomplete and the game was over.

Thank God Cullen Harper is leaving this team. His "deer in the lights" look and pisspoor play cost Clemson this game more than any other factor.

For those who think I shouldnt bash a player, I point out that Harper lost that right when he danced on TB's grave. He's a player, not a fan, he should keep his mouth shut. Him and his dad can both stay gone for all I care.

Clemson's defense dominated the LOS today and we ate their rushing game alive. The one 58 yard run was their only real lapse. We were in the backfield on nearly every run. In the first half we blitzed often, and in the 2nd there was a dropoff in pressure. Ganz is a good QB, but had all day to throw at times, and a good QB can pick a zone apart if he has time.

Clemson's offense was anemic, scattered, and completely confused....the playcalling was the same, and the rushing game disappeared. Nebraska did stop what few run plays that were called, but if you just decide to stop running the ball then you should expect to lose the game....have we learned nothing from the Bowden days?

We had every chance to seal the deal, and let this one go. We blew a 14-3 and 21-10 lead. At the end, it looked like Nebraska wanted it more than Clemson. It was a game Bowden would've lost, and Swinney lost it too.