Wednesday, October 21, 2009

We're Moving!

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

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

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Clemson Baseball for a moment

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

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

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

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Wake Forest postgame review

ESPN highlights.

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

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

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

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

First Half

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

CJ goes over 6000 all-purpose yards.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Korn just has no luck.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, October 17, 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Roll Tide.

Around the Southeast

Here is a look at games going on in the ACC today:

Wake Forest at Clemson (Raycom 12:00 PM ET)
Riley Skinner and the Wake Forest offense will come to Memorial Stadium to play the Tigers. Skinner, who it seems has been at Wake for about 10 years, handled Clemson in a sloppy, low scoring affair last season. Skinner is on quite a roll to this point, playing particularly well the past few weeks. Interestingly Jim Grobe has never won at Clemson. How the Tigers offense responds to a week off should give college football fans an idea of what to expect in the race for the Atlantic Division championship this season. Clemson finds a way to score at least two offensive touchdowns and holds off Wake.

FF Prediction: Wake 17 CU 24

North Carolina State at Boston College (ABC 3:30 PM ET)
Both of these teams desperately need a win and some momentum heading into the second half of the season, as Tom O'Brien faces his former team. BC is coming off of a thrashing to Virginia Tech, yet sits second in the ACC Atlantic race. BC has ACC wins over Florida State and Wake. NCST (0-2 in ACC Play) has played particularly poorly all season, emphasized by last week's tank job against Duke. While neither team is dominant, you know you are in trouble when you give up 49 to Duke. I look for BC to win big.

FF Prediction: NCST 17 BC 35

Virginia at Maryland (ESPNU 4:00 PM ET)
In what originally appeared to be the Al Groh farewell tour, Virginia has come to life after a horrid start to this season. Virginia is currently 1-0 in league play, sporting an upset win over UNC a few weeks ago. This team has, however, lost to William and Mary, Southern Miss, and a pretty good TCU team. Maryland is coming off of a loss to Wake and currently sits at 1-1 in the ACC. There is no other way to describe this matchup than two bad teams fighting it out. Maryland out-bads Virginia, and Al Groh lives another day.

FF Prediction: UVa 17 UMd 14

No. 4 Virginia Tech at No. 19 Georgia Tech (ESPN 2 6:00 PM ET)
This is the only ACC top 20 matchup of the week, and is a crucial game for the Yellow Jackets. GT is 3-1 in ACC play and is frantically chasing Miami and VT for a spot in Jacksonville. After getting beaten badly by the U earlier this season, this game is a must win for GT. Virginia Tech (3-0 in the ACC) is in the driver's seat for the conference championship and could back door it's way into the MNC game by running the table and getting some outside help. Needless to say, this is the biggest remaining regular season game for both clubs. Georgia Tech catches a break by having the Hokies travel to Atlanta for this contest. I see a hungry Virginia Tech team that is dynamic in all three phases of the game. While Virginia Tech's defense may not be as revered as in years past, it is fast enough to shut down GT's flex attack. On the flip side, the Yellow Jacket's defense (which has given up a ton of points all year) is no match for Tyrod Taylor and crew.

FF Prediction: VT 28 GT 17

No. 9 Miami (FL) at UCF (7:30 PM ET)
The U travels to Central Florida for a non-conference matchup. Miami (4-1 in conference) appears to be getting close to the championship form we all remember. Jacory Harris is a fantastic player who really has played well all season. UCF (1-2 in Conf. USA play, 3-2 overall) should not be a match for the 'Canes. The U rolls and eagerly watches the outcome in Atlanta.

FF Prediction: U 38 Golden Knights 10

Friday, October 16, 2009

Dalton Freeman to start against Wake, and what it means

Preliminary reports indicate that redshirt Freshman Dalton Freeman will start over Mason Cloy at the center position against Wake. This is encouraging news from this offensive line and overall depth for this unit. Along with depth, the move allows Clemson to try to shore up the tackle spot by moving David Smith from guard to tackle and possibly getting Cloy some snaps at the guard spot.

Freeman, a Pelion native, is said to have great footwork and pass protection skills. Going into fall camp, those in the know expected Freeman to push for a starting role all fall. He has received significant playing time to this point in the season. Greenville News has been following this all week, and has a pretty good outline of Brad's opinion on things here and Anderson Independent here.

Let's be clear what this actually means. Freeman currently sees significant playing time on a weekly basis, so the coaches have confidence in him. The important aspect here is trying to fix the glaring eyesore that is the right tackle position. Cloy has enough size to immediately take effective reps at the guard position, freeing up David Smith to add depth to the Cory Lambert Landon Walker revolving door, especially after losing Chris Hairston for a couple games earlier this season.

This issue has been discussed almost daily here, with most agreeing that we are in this situation because of good ole' Heinz ketchup-man himself. If you missed the problems up front, Dr. B gives you a pretty good idea of our overall problems here and here, so it is something that we all have been aware of for some time now.

In other news, the CU AD has slated the Halloween day contest against Coastal will begin at 1:30 and available only on ESPN360.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

A few links

-Bart Wright's response to the AOC stuff.

I can only take a few issues with what he says.
Another assistant had to separate them, said the anonymous writer who didn't bother to name a source or quote anyone on the record.

I'm sure Bart, or any other writer of record would NEVER give information out without quoting a source in the Athletic Department, revealing their identity and causing them to be disciplined and lose their job, then drying up the source of any new information?

No way, that would NEVER happen would it?

Its a blog, you can write whatever the fuck you want to write. I try to look at both sides of things before I post, or do some research to get things correct, but not everybody will do that. I still make mistakes sometimes, but go back and correct them when I see it. That doesnt mean you can't post heresay. If no one posted their 'inside' info, which is all heresay, then all you'd ever have to go on would be Bart's reporting prowess, ever.

What was the "stay near your computer!" stuff last year about? Heresay. Right.

All I pointed out, after writing what I have heard, was that the reporters should question the coaches on this issue. They did, so I'm satisfied.

But he is right to tell people to take what they read with a grain of salt.

On the last play where Parker was sacked.
That was Parker's fault. It was a quick 3-step drop and get rid of the ball play, and Parker did everything but get rid of the ball. H ehung onto it and got sacked from the blindside, which is why he's not supposed to hold the ball.

Actually Lambert could've also made an effort to block the man who came RIGHT AT him, instead of standing there looking at the guy on Austin. The blitzer came totally free. Yes Parker held it too long, but Lambert could've blocked.

-Strelow goes into the rumor of the argument, then the troubles on offense making yardage.

-Jarvis Jenkins has quietly had a good season so far, being at some times unblockable.

-Greg Wallace talks about the OL production. There hasnt been that much improvement Greg.

-EDSBS talks about the clusterfuck that is the ACC regular season.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Wake in the Valley

The Tigers will hit the field after what (hopefully) has been an evaluation break for the coaches as well as the team.

What do we know?

Well, we do know that there is some sort of disconnect on offense that is not allowing Clemson to play with continuity and fluidity. We also know that there are issues with the wide receivers, offensive line, and quarter back play through the first portion of the season. We know that Clemson's defense has played pretty well to this point and that the guys up front and in the secondary are capable of helping this football team win some games. We know that kick returning is probably CU's best offense to the is point, that Richard Jackson has a tremendous leg but needs more accuracy, and punting miscues have hurt the Tigers. Finally, we know that there are inexperienced members of this program right now that will need to improve over time.

What can we do?

Continuity and fluidity start from the top and start with play calling. I will not expand on the possibility of a rift between head coach and offensive coordinator except to say that a boat with two captains sinks fastest. Arguably, the most complete drive Clemson has had all season was the opening drive of the game against TCU. One possible explanation of this that most football coaches like to script the first series (or at least the first few plays) to open ball games. This generally is used to set the tone and see what kind of looked you are getting from your opponent out of certain formations and scenarios. Clemson was balanced and utilized everyone on this drive, with the only disappointment being CU had to settle for a field goal. I am by no means advocating a fully scripted game, but wondering if this scripting concept can be expanded upon to keep the staff moving and thinking in the same direction. The other item that Clemson can address is to try to attain manageable 3rd down attempts. I know this sounds like an obvious statement, but 3rd down success is a function of 1st and 2nd down decisions. We would like to see the Tigers keep the ball on the ground more on 1st & 2nd downs (3-4 yards on 1st down, 3-4 yards on second down would make me extremely happy) to set up 3rd and 3, 3rd and 4. This is extremely critical for the Tigers, as it is tough to be successful with a freshman QB in such situations.

I am really not sure what Clemson can do personnel wise at this point in the season. CU obviously cannot pick up players off the side of the road, so we have who we have. What Clemson can start doing offensively to help with the struggles up front and drops by the receivers is utilize the TE's in a more efficient manner. Initially, we would agree that another TE would be a lot of help for either Lambert or Walker. These guys have looked like matadors at times this season, and a TE would help either a lot. We have discussed better use of the TE here on numerous occasions, as Palmer and Allen can both catch the football. Apparently Billy Napier has gotten more positive about using Allen, stating in a recent P&C article that Allen has nice upside potential and that the Tigers will have to find a way put the ball in his hands. (Note, P&C may be driving this bandwagon, with another article emphasizing TE play being run today). I am also a big advocate of a double TE set. Other than being utilized for spacing, the WR's have been more of a liability than an asset this year. If you have to, flex Allen out with Palmer in a 3-pt stance. He is a big target and would make a pretty good match up for CU in many cases.

Clemson's defense is the least of my worries. Steele has done a pretty good job to this point. If there is one spot I would like to see more consistency (and depth), it would be the LB spot. However, this unit has given the offense plenty of opportunities and has played pretty well all year. Overall, this is about what I expected out of this group--overall performance--with a lot more intensity than the past few seasons.

I would be surprised to see many opponents kick the ball to CJ for the rest of the season. His ability to take one to the house is incredible. There is no need for me to continue to state the obvious. With Spiller/Ford returning the football, Clemson is in good shape.

On the other side of the return coin, Clemson has done a better job of kick coverage this season. Most of the problems in this department have been poor luck/somebody not paying attention to what is going on. The big ones include the Georgia Tech and Maryland returns for big gains (GT went to the end zone, Maryland to the 1) that both ended up giving the opposition 6 points. We have beaten the GT bonehead call to death. What we can do is assure that the ball is kicked well and realize that there is no need to get froggy on kick team. Just kick the ball and make other bs.

I think we may have given Richard Jackson a little too much hype early. While you cannot deny that someone who banks home 50 yarders at will is impressive, Richard has to become more dependable on short- to mid-range kicks. This is particularly true when the game is still in balance. Regardless, Clemson should not need Jackson to kick 5 field goals a game. Overall, with all of the questions coming into the year, I have more confidence in the kicking unit than I thought I would...but we still have a ways to go.

Inexperience is pretty obvious, particularly on the offensive side of the football. Let's go ahead and get the QB spot out of the way. Early on, Parker looked like he was well on his way to Death Valley glory. He was making all the right decisions and throwing the ball with authority. Even against GT, he stepped in and was able to make decent decisions and deliver the ball when necessary. Since, he has looked more and more like a freshman. Parker is rushing to get rid of the ball and has gotten into a bad habit of not stepping up and stepping into where he needs to throw the ball. Couple that with dropped passes, and you have a young QB who seems to be reeling.

What can happen to improve this play is for Parker to stop getting excited and quit trying to guide the ball. I would also like to see Parker run with the ball more when given the chance, particularly when he can pick up a first down without putting the ball in the air. The GT int throwing across his body to an open Ford is a prime example of this. While Ford was open, this was a difficult 3rd down pass to complete The freshman could have easily tucked the ball and gotten the short first down to keep the drive going.

Finally, we can slim down the playbook even further to ensure that Clemson is only running base plays. Pros to this idea is that we can actually execute a handful of plays, our players are not overloaded with extra information, and we get more reps in practice. Minus is you become more predictable. See the preseason post re Spence's complex offense to get more insight here. I am all for executing fewer plays properly as opposed to having more plays that look like crap.

WR's doing a better job of bringing in more passes would (OBVIOUSLY) help this position also. If we still cannot get things going, then you have to think about really shaking up playing time between Parker and Korn. Will Korn looked determined and ready to go in his lone series against the Terps.

The other inexperience lies in a first-year coach/first-year OC combination. We have all heard a lot about this situation, and I will not get into any hearsay or speculation, only look at the facts of the situation. First off, the decision to allow the program's two best recruiters to take over the football program was a big risk on TDP's part. In short, he gave up little in guaranteed cash to retain an unproven, yet popular coach in Swinney. This is a real risk for the former OSU front-man, especially coupled with the debacle known as extending Tom Bowden's contract several times over the past few years/not letting Arkansas overpay for his services. Long and short, TDP put Clemson in a situation where they will be paying TB a lot of money for quite a while (all during the worst economic period in 80 years). Thus, you don't need crystal ball to figure out what happens should Swinney fail...TDP catches it also. Phillips realizes that it will take time for Swinney to win...he is just hoping that Swinney's coaching abilities will catch up sooner rather than later.

I don't need to remind anyone that it is difficult to move from being a position coach to running the whole program. The second portion of the equation is Billy Napier as offensive coordinator. While I don't have a problem with younger guys being coordinators, it is tough to have a young coordinator with a young head coach (mainly because both really need time to mature in the current roles and more of a mentor). If you are going to have a young offensive coordinator, it is always nice to have an experienced coach to allow the OC to be creative, yet reel him in and keep him moving in the correct direction (as dictated by the HC). Since Swinney has no head coaching experience (nor assistant head coaching experience, for that matter) it is tough for his team to have an identity and vision this early in the game. This may trickle down to less experienced assistants going through similar growing pains...

The long and the short of it is what we have all known for the past year...Swinney is a rookie coach and is going to make rookie mistakes. All we expect here is realistic improvement from week to week, and understand that becoming a good football coach is build on experience. Swinney's decision to bring in an experienced defensive coordinator has worked out well. The inexperience in offensive game planning and play calling is showing itself in the early-going. The best we can all hope for is that these two gain valuable experience and move forward as the season progresses and get over the early rookie woes. These guys have largely been given a pass so far this season, but will need to steadily improve to escape some criticism here.

With a slew of less than impressive opponents (minus Miami) left on Clemson's ACC slate, there are quite a few winnable games on the table. However, this team must improve drastically to turn these opportunities into W's.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Inside the Clemson Offense: 34/35 Zone

The bread and butter run play of the Spence, as well as most one-back, system is the zone rushing play. There are several to pick from but here we'll describe a brief introduction to zone blocking itself, then the specific play.

Why do teams run a zone scheme?
-Adapts to defenses that like to stunt and stem quite a bit. Essentially no defense in major college football runs a basic front without some stunting. If they didnt stunt, you could call base blocking (just take the man in front of you head-on) schemes all the time. Since they don't do that, you have to have a scheme that can adjsut to everything the defensive front shows you.
-You create combo blocks on the LOS (double-teams) and outnumber the defense at the point-of-attack, and that should open up more holes and get the back to the 2nd level.
-Combo blocking generally means you dont need as many of those 6'6 330lb linemen, and you can make do with a little less talent.

What is zone blocking?

I don't intend to do a step-by-step description of it, but it does not necessarily mean that guys block a "zone" or "area", although that is one technique that can be taught (an inside gap usually) and is in the video above. If there is a man over the Guard or Tackle head-up, then nearly every time he will just base block him. Zone schemes apply to uncovered linemen. If I am facing an ODD defense (Nose tackle over the Center) then one of the Guards will not be covered by the other DT (assuming a 4-man front, usually the LG with the RG facing a 3-Tech), and that uncovered Guard will be asked to help the Center block most of the time. If its an EVEN front (nobody over the Center), then the Center will combo block with one of the Guards.

What the combo Olineman will do is block the DL for a specified count, then release to hit a LB. Thats it. Hopefully you can push that DL back far enough so that he interfere's with the LB trying to get to the play, then the combo lineman will not have far to go to make his block.

Covered linemen take a step to the playside, then the 2nd between the defender's feet, keeping their shoulders as square as possible to the line. Uncovered linemen take a big scoop step playside, then a 2nd step trails and pushes upfield. Imagine it as them trying to ram into the defender's shoulder. Generally the entire line will look as if they are shifting to one direction.

If you want to go further into zone blocking itself, I recommend these links:
Rocky Top Talk on Inside zones, and Tomahawk Nation's post on understanding zone blocking.

My biggest complaint with the zone scheme is that it must be repped endlessly, and teaching it to young linemen can therefore be quite difficult. They have to be taught how long to hold their block at the POA and then how to get upfield. All of them must handle their assignment exactly, and the usage of their hands and their first two steps is of utmost importance.

As for the 34/35 Zone rush play itself, you might want to watch this description by Brian Billick of the Denver Broncos stretch zone blocking scheme.

I've discussed play numbering before, but again the "3" refers to the Back (QB is 1, H-back may be #2, RB is #3) and the "4" or "5" refers to the hole he's supposed to run through. 34 Zone is designed for the RB to take the ball up behind the RG and into the B-gap, but being a zone play, a cutback lane may open behind the Center (because of the combo block) and the RB has the option of taking it there.

Clemson runs the play from multiple formations, generally Ace Spread or Ace Pro Wing sets. In addressing the 34 specifically, you can run it on any down but should be most effective in short yardage situations. The fact that the QB's action is a bootleg keeps the sometimes-unblocked backside DE occupied long enough to get the Aceback through the LOS.

Depending on the defensive front, the Line (Center usually) makes 2 or 3 calls to control the LOS, designating who blocks whom.

RT: Depending on the call he will either step to the outside gap and work up to the LB, or combo block with the TE on the DE before releasing.
RG: If covered, nearly always base block. A "solid" call means he'll block to the outside gap, and a "Combo" call means he'll base block with help from the RT.
C: "Base" call=blocks the Shade/Nose Tackle. "Ram" call, if he's uncovered, would indicate he blocks to the playside gap. Other calls may indicate he could go straight to the 2nd level (e.g., "City") or to the left (Lion). He will make those calls pre-snap.
LG/LT: Either block base or "solid" meaning they'll block towards the playside gap. If the LG is covered, usually the LT will combo on the DT. The backside DE over the outside shoulder of the LT is meant to be unblocked by the LT, but this can change depending on the front they showcase (or a blitz).

H-back: Steps to the inside/playside to cut off the first man to the outside shoulder of the LT. He stays on the backside DE long enough to keep him from making the play in the backfield, then proceeds to the 2nd level to try to hit the scraping OLB.

TE/Y: Blocks base, but can adjust this based on the call between himself and the RT to help pick up any outside defender (like a blitzing OLB or SS). He aims to keep his shoulders parallel to the line, pushing towards the outside, but be aware of a pinch stunt (DE slanting inwards towards the Tackle).

X/Y: Both release upfield, then stalk block their Cornerback. The term "stalk" implies there is a technique to this block, based on the defender's alignment pre-snap. If the defender is further than 5 yards off, his aiming point is the outside jersey number. If the defender is loose, he is likely the secondary run support man, meaning his primary job is not to turn the perimeter run inside, but is the second man trying to make the play turn inside. If he's playing press/bump coverage, the WR's aiming point is the inside number, because he is probably playing primary run support. If the H-back is set out in the slot, he will also stalk block his cover man instead of the DE, but this adjustment is made in tandem with the LT.

Aceback: Runs a belly action, aiming at the outside hip of the RG, then receives the handoff. Either the hole will be there or to the inside behind the Center. He must sprint to the backside of the RG and then decide on his cut and hit the hole very hard.

QB: Opens to 5:30 position with the belly action, then runs a fake bootleg to help the H-back keep the DE occupied. If the same play is run to the opposite side, he opens to 4-4:30.

The 35 Zone is essentially the same, to the opposite side. It is shown against an ODD front in the picture with 3 wide receivers. Its very useful in setting up the countertrey, the countergap, and a bootleg/waggle pass. With the same blocking scheme you can also have the back run a Counter.

The same calls are made on the Line, but the X and Slot receivers sight adjust the OLB. If the OLB is lined up on the line opposite the slot, the slot man blocks solid on him, but if he's back showing his pass coverage the X receiver runs over on a slant route to crack him. In this case, with the OLB playing off, the slotman would run a wheel route into the CB towards the boundary. If necessary, the two receivers can make a pre-snap "Check with me" call to each other to determine who to block.

Z goes vertical to attempt to stalk the SS or man on the CB, while the TE runs a crossing route to block into the FS.

The TB has the choice of hitting the outside slice, or taking his cutback behind the LG.

This video is a good description of the 35 (first play) and a 2nd play appears to be a 31 or 33 inside zone.

Swinney Press Conference: WF

Notes from Today's press conference:

On Wake Forest:
Offensively they are definitely the best offense we've play. They are very balanced. Riley Skinner has 37 starts. He has a lot of experience and he really understands what he's doing... He's an excellent scrambler. The biggest thing he does such a good job of is scrambling around and finding a guy [downfield]. When he scrambles, he delivers the ball [downfield]....He dinks it out to a running back in the flat and you are out of position and he runs for 20 yards. He's what makes them go.

They also run a significant amount of misdirection with their offense. They are extremely athletic group up front. They are all redshirt guys and they all have a bunch of starts under their belt. They do a good job executing...They have good running backs- they are both veteran guys. Their wide outs are new guys but they have done a good job spreading the ball around.

They are definitely the best group we have played.

Defensively, they move and stem as well as anybody we play. They have a lot of movement right before the ball is snapped and as it is snapped. We have to be poised in our snap count and using that as a tool for us. They understand gap control. They do have a lot of first-year starters defensively but all of those guys have significant playing time and they've developed in their system. They do a great job of execution and that's what we have to do- execute. We have to eliminate the things that beat ourselves. I think this is going to be a big game for Kyle Parker. He's got to do what he's coached to do. We can't beat ourselves.

When he refers to "stemming" he means stunting and exchanging gap controls on the defensive line, generally on one side. It works off calls on the defensive line, and the offense can sometimes adjust to a stunting defense by going off the first sound, to try to catch them in a stunt and out of position. It also confuses OL in their blocking assignments.

In this terminology, a stem is usually the gap exchange of the linemen done before the snap, whereas a stunt is a gap exchange with a lineman and a linebacker or two linemen after the snap. For most intents and purposes they are the same things but if you want to be technical its a last-second shift on the DL (like everyone shifts over to the weakside at the last second, or everyone waits til the snap to put their hands down, etc.).

Brad Scott was asked about the OL and how they deal with this type of thing:
“Fifteen or 20 years ago, defenses played one, maybe two defenses. That was it. So you could really tee up and come off the ball. Nowadays -- y’all watch college football. I saw somebody made the quote that the day of the 200-yard offensive rushing day is probably more like 150 these days. …

“With the way the safeties are down, everybody is playing man coverage to get that eighth guy down in the box. You’ve got to run it up in there to keep them honest and to help you with your passing game. But I think there probably is a little bit of a trend where it’s a little more challenging to cover guys up. A lineman would love to just line up and come off the ball. That’s what all people want to see, and that’s what we want them to do.
But that guy that’s right there who you’re coming off on, he might just go two gaps over and be there, and that linebacker might be right there.
I don’t want to use the term slow step, but you have to play more under control. So it’s still an aggressive personality and attitude, but you better play under control, or you’re liable to completely miss guys.”

On the question of the playcalling and the argument in practice, that we brought up earlier last week:
The internet is blowing up with rumors of differences between you and Billy Napier. Is that true and have you overridden him on a bunch of calls this season?
Swinney: There's no truth to that. I hired Billy to be the offensive coordinator. I probably have over written three calls in five ball games. It's no different on the defensive side. I got a great relationship with Billy. I probably picked a bad day to invite people to practice. I don't know if y'all pay attention but we lost to Maryland. Everybody wants to write about me and Billy ... well what about Coach Pearman, and Coach Scott and Coach Steele. I have all the respect in the world for all my coaches. One of the things I like about Billy is he's got some fire to him. I had the band out at practice. It was one of those spring practice days where nobody was in good humor. And I'm glad about that. I don't know where that comes from. I don't override play calls or anything like that. I manage the game. I may say hey let's take a shot or hey let's run it. We aren't just randomly calling plays on game day. I don't know how else to answer that other than it's just way far from accurate. That's just part of this job.

Are you surprised that you've only overridden three calls?
Swinney: I hire people to do their jobs. I say three it may have been one or may have been five. I like to say I make all of the bad calls because it's my responsibility on both sides of the ball to make sure it's right. I've looked at all the film during this open date- sure there were times when you say well dad-gum that's a bad call. Most of the time, where we've had success it's been because of our crisp play and execution. When it's not going well, it's been a combination of us not executing properly or a missed assignment or a dropped ball instead of a bad call. That goes back to us coaching them better - bottom line. That's the attention to detail that we've focused on the last two weeks because if we execute we have a chance to be successful.

As I said in the Raycom blog over the weekend, I'll take his word for it even if I think he is exerting more control than that over the offense. Its Napier's head now for these silly play calls.

As for the argument, it is being overplayed. Coaches do argue on the field, but like he said, it looks bad because it happened on the field with the Band and others watching and our problems have been mostly on offense. Austin said he chewed everyone out on the team, as he should.

On execution:
What have you changed during the off-week? Anything?
Swinney: Yeah. We don't go to the next play unless it's right. It's got to be right. Got to do it right as opposed to get our reps in. I'd rather get less reps and get it right. Last Wednesday and Thursday were two of the best practices we've had. Yesterday was excellent. We will have a chance to have a much more successful start of the season.

Well what did you guys do this offseason? You said you simplified the playbook and pared things down. If its too complicated still, then you shouldve figured that out in MTSU-game week.
Is it enough to get better execution on offense or do you make personnel changes as well?
Swinney: We've got a good system. We have to execute better on both sides of the ball in critical situations. Certainly there is always the opportunity to make changes personnel-wise and we'll make tweaks here and there. We have to gain that confidence from practice to make that critical play that is required.

This week Dalton Freeman is getting alot of the reps at Center, partly because he can do it well, and partly because they want Cloy over at RG to light a fire under McClain's ass.
How would you assess the offensive line at this point in the season?
Swinney: Far from dominant but we are better. We aren't the same group without Chris Hairston. Glad to get him back at 100 percent but we are nowhere near where I want us to be. We are better- there's no denying that. You watch our game against Wake Forest last year and I can hardly watch it. We've done a better job of not getting sacked. Last year we had a bunch of sacks. We are one of the top teams in the conference as far as not getting sacked. We have to be able to run the football- but just one thing is first down. We have to be better on first down. That would fix a lot of our other issues. First down efficiency- that's a big focus for me. That's run, pass, play-action on first down. we don't need second and 12 or second and 10.

The debacle at Wake last year was the worst offensive performance I've ever seen, far worse to me than Maryland last week. I disagree with him that we are much better up front. Through 5 games I see hardly any improvement in run blocking except for a few less missed assignments. They hit the right guys, but they still dont do anything when they hit them.
How much of the offense 's lack of success is due to a first-year quarterback starting?
Swinney: He has certainly made mistakes but he's not the reason we are 2-3. He's given us the opportunity to win. He's going to make mistakes. He's a freshman. We have to do the best job of minimizing mistakes. He's made some really really good plays. He's made some big plays and had some little things like a third-and-five and he could have easily scrambled for it but he's looking for the big one or maybe missing a protection.

And having to simplify the offense means what? Either the QB isnt getting everything, or the whole team. I'll have to lean to the latter, but Napier coaches both of 'em. I expected Parker to have a few freshmen-like games, and I still expect Korn to play more this year than he has because of it. What Parker does well is throwing it away in trouble, too well lately. If he would step up in the pocket and become a run threat, it would create opportunities for receivers behind the LBs in the underneath zones, he has to be coached to do that...not just run to the sideline and throw it just out of bounds.

Strelow's blog mentions the tussle between Napier and Dabo as well, when asked about it today Napier said this:
"I heard that too. I also heard that I didn't go to the press conference after the Maryland game. A lot of things, when you've got a situation where you lose a couple of tight games and you've got a little of that looking for answers, and you've got people at practice who maybe aren't used to being at a college football practice, it's probably a little surprising, some of the things they see.

"It was no big deal. It's a competitive sport, it's an intense sport. We've got to do our job as coaches, and that's to motivate our players. Coach Swinney obviously has to do his job as a head coach and motivate not only the players, but the staff. It was a very intense open date, Wednesday practice. Very typical of some that we've had around here in the preseason and in spring practice. You've got to do some things to catch their attention as players. I think it's really helped our guys, and they've fed off the intensity. And we've had better practices the last couple of days.

"I didn't think it was that big a deal. Obviously when you've got the band at practice, rumors are going to fly. Just a normal, intense practice with intense, competitive guys. Hopefully we'll have more like that."

What exactly did happen that triggered it?

NAPIER: "I think they were caught off by the vocal, just the loudness and really getting after the kids and the staff, getting the little things right. You guys have been in practice before, and it's a little violent. It's no different than it has been. I don't know if those guys have ever been to one....I think our players actually fed off of it. So it's been a good thing."

Napier goes further to say that the staff collaborates on the scripting of the first drive, and says they have looked at expanding that, as well as something to start the 2nd half. I wonder what took them so long to figure that out?

The rest of Napier's presser comes off the way he usually does: excuses and "we need to get the ball to _______ more often" and "we need to coach them better". I'm getting sick of hearing what he has to say honestly.

EDIT: Strelow gives the Steele and Napier interviews here.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The AOC and TDP

I'm sure nearly everyone has seen the Avenue of Champions blogs by now. Its a collection of guys who are respected on TigerIllustrated, that are totally disgusted with Terry Don Phillips' leadership of the Athletic Department. They get alot of press because they spam the various boards with their posts, which are intentionally controversially written to stir up disgust in other Tiger fans.

I have the same information to go on that they do, and could we could write the same posts, I just don't write them because I don't have information to present an alternate point-of-view to check the argument. I also don't have the strong feelings of hatred against TDP that I had for Robinson, so I have not subscribed to the vitriolic posts about him. Alot of what they say is slanted, but I have commented on their posts and agreed to an extent.

Like most of you, I want the Golf team to do well, the soccer team, rowing, etc....but I really don't give a shit if the volleyball team loses, I'm not losing sleep over it. Ever seen us make a major post here on any minor sport besides track? I evaluate an AD on the facilities upgrades he makes, the hires, and whether he can keep good people in the Big 3 sports. In that regard I give TDP a B-/C+ borderline grade.

There are facts in the posts the AOC has made, none of which I can flat out tell you are totally false. But, it does depend on your POV and what you have to go on. LW and Ard give information out on their boards, and their opinion influences others. They dont have the whole story either most of the time. If those people are looking for a reason to fire somebody, it just stirs up more hate.

Recently during practice, Dabo and Napier got into a very heated argument in front of the players. I heard this from a friend who works at Clemson, so it is heresay. That is corroborated by LW, as far as he knows (press is not allowed at practice) and I generally trust what LW has to say. So I'll take it on faith, you can make your mind up for yourself. The gist of the argument seems to be about the performance of the offense on the field in practice and in games so far, and there was some insubordination in front of the players and other coaches, and yes Andre Powell did have to split them up. It was also mentioned that Pearman did go to Dabo and tell him to stop changing the plays after the Maryland game, despite reports to the contrary this week that there was no changing of the plays. My post over on the Raycom blogs gives my opinion and views on that, so for whatever reason, neither of them is confirming it, and that means one or both might hang for it later.

Recently TDP was interviewed about his decisions and the overall performance of the program. I think this information should be shared since the AOC is presenting their side.

On the loss of Kyle Bunn, Clemson pitching coach, I'll paraphrase his quotes:
"We include outside compensation (youth camps, New ERA contracts) in the coaches compensation, we also pay their insurance when most schools do not. If you add that in, we're atop the conference. He did not leave because his pay was unfair compared to the rest of the ACC. We compare what we can do to the ACC."

Kyle did not have a paid car for his recruiting trips, and he did leave for more money at Alabama. What disturbs me most of all is comparing us to the ACC in baseball, even if we're in a very strong baseball conference. We have to keep good people when our baseball program has been rocky of late.

There was far too much comparison of Clemson's economical situation to the ACC in this entire interview, over all the big sports.

He went on to say that Bunn's replacement DOES get a car allowance, and is bumped up in salary. My question is why can't we make baseball generate more revenue? We've had good marketing people at Clemson before havent we? I think we should take a Minor League approach here, get some people in to try to build up the revenue stream. Its always going to be true that football and basketball bring home the bacon, but baseball can be a revenue-generator too, at least enough to keep itself afloat.

On the Tony Eubanks situation:
"Coming to Clemson was the first time I'd seen a Chaplain housed with the football office. There are legal issues there. Others had come in from other religious faiths and protested, and I told them to file a complaint, but I did nothing to interfere. I did not try to eliminate his position altogether.

Tony was under the FCA, and FCA is recognized by CU. The CU policy is that only recognized ministries can use University facilities. He has since been retained and kept a room where he can minister and advise as much as he wants.

There was an issue with NCAA Compliance in this respect, because he could do something in mentoring that he would be breaking a rule for, especially when not recognized by the University. That has been cleared up."

There was a contentious period there between him and Dabo on Eubanks, and he takes responsibility for not communicating these issues clearly to him. Even with Katie Hill around as the budget taskmaster and Becky Bowman as the NCAAnalretentiverules bitch, I would accept this explanation.

On facilities upgrades:
"I met with President Barker on the day i was hired and we started planning the WEZ from scratch. We needed upgrades and we got it done. At the time the baseball stadium had not been changed significantly, and the Indoor Track facility had just been graded.

OP wants a new basketball facility, and we're looking at 10-15 million for that. I met with Robert Ricketts about this a few days ago, and we've got to contact the architects and start forming plans...A new gym, weight rooms, and room for offices to be moved. Its an investment we probably need to make."

I honestly have to give TDP a pass on any facilities argument. Some people apparently want everything done right now, and TDP got more done in the last few years than Robinson ever did. He might not be a "Dollar" Bill McLellan as an AD when it comes to money raising, but he has done things for the Big 3 and that keep me satisfied (note i did not say 'happy'). Clemson was hit by the SEP fallout as well as a couple million in lost sponsorships, along with the economical downturn. If not for those conditions, the nickel-and-diming of the AD would get more flak from both of us.

Is Tiger Field better than SC's or LSU's brand new baseball stadiums? Well no, but its considerably better now than it was and is comparable when you look at what is around the southeast....and yes I have seen several. Our's is still nicer than most of the SEC and ACC. There are a couple things they could do to it, and given what has been done, I'm sure they will be done.

On basketball, Littlejohn was a dump when I started at Clemson, and by the time I left it had been refurbished and the Annex built. Now I would call it nice. I don't know where they want to PUT a new stadium, but if thats the next thing on their list to fix, then go for it. Make the commitment to OP and keep that man here.

As far as an indoor practice facility for football, its not really needed other than recruiting. I parked beside LSU's every day for years, and they probably don't use it more than 3-4 days a year. You have to practice in the August heat (conditioning), and you have to practice in some rain, because you might play in both. I don't think its a big deal, but I personally believe Jervey and McFadden should be replaced altogether.

-On the point of him not appearing at IPTAY functions, he talked about his poor health (back surgery and ER visits), but admitted that he does need to rethink sending Billy D to every single event instead of himself. He does point out, rightly, that we want to hear Purnell/Swinney/Leggett instead of himself though.

-Alot of the interview rested on the football program, and TDP comes across as weak in most of his arguments, and he's obviously spinning things the positive way (as any AD would after a 2-3 start). He points out that we expanded the support staff per Swinney's request and the assistant's salaries by $600,000.

He did say that he thought Bowden was underpaid.
"So if you look over the period of time up until he got that last year and got that good bump, he was about half-a-million less per year than were some of his counterparts in the league who weren't performing as well as we were performing.

"So there's a margin there over a four- or five-year period where it was probably two or two-and-a-half million dollars of savings in salary, simply because he was making substantially less than probably where he should've been."

He knows that he sinks or swims with Dabo Swinney, however. He admitted that much.

So now I've tried to look at both sides of everything, you can make your own mind up.

This will crack you up

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Napier's fate is sealed

With the suggestions of Swinney overruling playcalling, my post as well as others have forced some of the beatwriters to ask Napier and Swinney about who is really calling the plays. David Hood talked with Swinney and he said this:
Swinney has come under fire for taking too much of a hand in the play-calling, and that the efforts of Swinney trying to co-coordinate with offensive coordinator Billy Napier are hurting the effort, but Swinney says he has very little input in the actual play calls.

“I am not calling plays,” Swinney said. “Occasionally, I might get asked to make a suggestion, but I am more in trying to manage the game. It might be a situation where I am asked, in a certain spot, do we want to be more aggressive or more conservative, that kind of thing. But I am not calling plays."

Coach Napier, when questioned by Larry Williams, said Swinney was calling "a couple a game." The questions Napier faced at his news conference from the other writers were total softballs. Not one of them questioned it. He also said "Maryland has just gotten better" when asked about our 81 rushing yards against a porous defense, and they had committed to stopping the run like BC did.

That seals Napier's fate to me, even if I think Swinney is exerting more control over the gameplan, and that is affecting these calls. Swinney has been up front about enough things that I'll take him at his word on this for the time being. If the offense does not improve, we will be calling for some changes on this staff come December.

Also, with the suggestion that we arent doing enough to improve our WR corps by giving them chances to catch the ball in space, and attacking the seams over the middle with the TE:
One reason for the lack of points on offense is the lack of production from a young wide receiving corps, and it has been suggested that the effort to get the ball into the hands of playmakers C.J. Spiller and Jacoby Ford, and as a result a lack of touches by the group, has halted their growth.

“Some of it is that,” Swinney said. “A lot of it is just poor execution more than anything. At Maryland, we had a young wideout who had practiced great all week, and then he dropped two balls and had a holding call. That is frustrating. You have to go back to the little things, and focus on the execution. Yeah, we have a lot of young guys, and we have to do a better job of giving them more opportunities.”

He also went on to say that the offense would be simplified considerably, which shouldve been done ALREADY with a young QB and WRs. I thought they did that this offseason? 25% of our possessions have netted 2 yards or less for Christ's sake. I would not give this team a single play that they don't execute in practice 20 times in a row perfectly. We should pare it down to about 30 plays altogether and tinker with formations more than anything...not until they prove they can get the job done. Its bad enough to watch without hearing yet another reference to how DABO is like DANNY.

I will only say one thing, if we lose to Wake Forest with two weeks to prepare, then Dabo will never get another comparison to Ford this year.

Friday, October 9, 2009

What "else" is going on around the country

The off week (and my extreme disgust with the level of play lately) gives us the chance to review this young football season outside of the Clemson spectrum. This will give us a chance to evaluate how some legitimate football teams play, overall takes on the season, what to look for down the stretch, and whatever other ramblings are felt necessary. I will look primarily at ACC and SEC teams, as that is all anyone around frequenting this blog really cares about anyway.

Let's begin at the top, the Florida Gators: The gators have been steady early in this football season. I was a little disappointed with their effort in the Tennessee game, as my disdain for all things Kiffin and UT begged for Urban to throw up half a C-Note on the Vols. After the Myer job done on UGa last season, this was nothing more than a let down.
I think everyone understands the ramifications of "As Tim Tebow Turns". We all get constant updates on him from ESPN errrrrr Tebow-TV. It will be interesting to see how these guys respond with or without Tebow. Either way they are talented enough to run the table. The other positive UF has going for it is Corrine Brown's sparkling endorsement. What more could you want on Capital Hill?

Alabama may very well be the best overall team in all the land. After battling early mistakes to beat a good VTech team, Bammer has looked nothing less than fantastic this season. In the Tide's victories over Arkansas and Kentucky, UA did whatever it pleased. Rushing the football, Ingram and and freshman T. Richardson have blown it up. The real surprise has been the Greg McElroy. A 9:1 TD/INT ration coupled with over 1000 yards passing allows the Tide to Roll seamlessly even with the loss of JPW. The biggest concern for Bammer will be the loss for the season of LB Dont'a Hightower during the Arkansas win. Hightower is a dynamic player and was a key to the Tide's defensive success last season.
Bama's schedule lays out nicely for a return trip to Atlanta: Ole Miss (in the Grove), the Cocks in Denny-Bryant, LSU at home, and a trip to the Plains rounds out this year's key opponents. This is a program that will be fighting for a MNC each and every year under Saban. Nobody is more excited about this than Bamafan:

Staying in the SEC West, we get to discuss a program that no one can understand--the Bengal Tigers of LSU. No doubt LSU has talent. No doubt LSU has tradition. The only doubt is when the luck will run out. Yes, Les Miles is the freaking wild card who, by some unexplainable and mysterious turn of events, will end up winning in spite of some of the stupidest decisions in the history of college football (see Dr. B's previous assessment here). LSU has looked less than impressive to this point of the season (sloppy game at Washington, somehow holding of Mississippi State at the goal line, and screwing around with a mediocre Gerogia team last week). The Tigers host #1 Florida and #17 Auburn over the next two weeks then a trip to Tuscaloosa the first week of November. Judging by the play to this point, it is very likely that LSU will lose two of these three games...particularly with Joker Les steering the ship.

Virginia Tech will win the ACC again this year. Their victory over a good Miami team (in the rain, though) a few weeks ago and ability to overcome and obvious letdown last week against Duke indicates this is the ACC cream of the crop. While Tech has looked sluggish at times this season, I have been impressed with their play against quality opponents, particularly playing tough in the season opener. VT continues to do what has made it successful in the good defense, don't let your offense fuck it up, and score a couple TD's on special teams.

Miami has been a pleasant surprise this season. After an entertaining start to the season against Florida State, the Canes have impressive victories over Ga Tech and Oklahoma. The loss to Va Tech was extremely sloppy, and weather conditions seemed to adversely effect the high flying offense all day. Miami should be able to cruise home, as the only currently ranked foe left on the schedule is South Florida, with other opponents including reeling Clemson and North Carolina teams. Miami's qb, Jacory Harris has been extremely impressive in his sophomore campaign. In early ACC play, he showed great mobility, arm strength, accuracy, and awareness in carving up both FSU and GT's defenses. Props to Randy Shannon for straighting the U's train wreck out. Is the swagger back?

Auburn has been impressive this season (at least in comparison to the previous season's Tony Franklin experiment). While I am not sold on Gene Chizik over Tubberville, Auburn has played well against their (weak) opponents to date. I am not sold on Auburn, as their only achievement this season was a close win over an average Tennessee team. The final evaluation on this squad will definitely need to wait until they get a little deeper into their SEC schedule.

Ole Miss has been what I expected them to be all along--overrated in the preseason. Miss looked extremely sloppy in the season opening win over Tommy West's Memphis Tigers and looked absolutely pitiful in their trip to Williams-Brice. I will be eager to see if Jevan Snead can overcome the woes experienced against Carolina and Memphis and live up to the preseason hype. There is no doubt that he is talented enough, as Snead would more than likely be starting at Texas now if it weren't for Colt McCoy. Dexter McCluster was really impressive against South Carolina, and Ole Miss probably wins that game if they get him involved earlier. We will get to see what the Rebels have this week against the Tide...I expect a huge letdown from the boys from Oxford.

South Carolina...this one is difficult because I really don't know what to expect from the Cocks. Steve Garcia is much improved from a year ago. Getting rid of John Hunt and getting an offensive line coach seems to be paying dividends for USC to this point. Currently, though, I am not sold on S. Carolina. Georgia is not that good of a football team this season. SC could not put away Ole Miss and almost gave that one away. To date, I think that Steve Spurrier (or whomever is calling plays) tries to get a little too cute with the playcalling. For instance, why they would attempt to throw the ball up 16-3 in the 4th qtr against Mississippi? I really like their big TE, and everyone knows how good Norwood is. After UK this weekend, the schedule toughens to include a trip to Tuscaloosa on the 17th, @ Tenn, @ Arkansas, the gators, then CU. SC lacks defensive depth, and constant power rushing turns the area between the tackles into I-95. I don't expect too much from this team down the stretch.

I will give a shout out to Texas. After getting over TT the other week, it is an obvious statement that Texas should be the in the National Championship game this season. Oklahoma should not be the constant thorn in UT's side this year. With OU's problems (mainly injuries to Bradford and Jermaine Gresham and an inexperienced offensive line), the rest of the schedule sets up fairly nicely for Mack Brown. No surprises here.

Georgia is one team that everyone loves to hate. Consequently, no one outside of Athens is crying over the fact that Willie Martinez is getting his ass handed to him on a weekly basis. I don't think that Richt can cover for this guy again, especially with the uproar by the UGa faithful. I don't have time to get into all the problems with Georgia defensively and philosophically, but the guys over at have put together a comprehensive look at Martinez after last season's loss to Ga Tech here. The gist of the defensive failure of Georgia in my opinion lies in the lack of aggressiveness by the defense. Too often you will see the Georgia football team sitting back and waiting for things to happen to them. Their DB's play 9 yards off the freaking football and really don't make plays. When UGa has the ball, I really have not been impressed with anyone but AJ Green. You have to give credit where is is due, the Summerville native is one hell of a football player and will be playing (a lot) on Sundays.