Friday, January 2, 2015

Post-Tangerine Bowl Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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