Sunday, December 29, 2019

The National Champions are coming to the Big Easy

Just wanted to jot down some thoughts in the aftermath of one of the best games of the college football season tonight in the Fiesta Bowl since I'll be traveling all day tomorrow. I predicted we'd win by 7, so I was a little off, but I never lost heart in the Tigers no matter how we struggled early. This team has the heart of a Champion and I'd pick us to win against LSU in a couple weeks.

First, neither team really deserved to lose that game. That was a damn fine football team we just beat. Ohio State came to play us, unlike the last time we smoked Urban Meyer's ass 31-0 in the playoffs, and they made us earn this victory. We made mistakes, they made mistakes, but both teams came ready to lay the wood and that is the kind of game that toughens up the victor to win it all. Clemson made the plays they needed to to win the game, and Ohio State just didn't make them.

Early on, our run fits just weren't great at all, and we were getting pushed around. Pad levels were high, guys inside were getting swallowed up, and some linebackers weren't in position or weren't using their eyes on their keys. I knew Skeletor would get that fixed, the question was how deep a hole we'd be in. Dobbins was not going to run all over this defense all night, and then we'd have to come back out of the hole we dug ourselves. Thankfully they couldn't convert the red zone opportunities we gave them and it was only 16-0.

Once I saw we were starting to fit the run, I had hoped we'd run it ourselves, but ScElliott never got it moving for ETN. I think some of it was playcalls, as we had some obvious run-formations against a loaded 8 or 9 man box that we should've checked out of at the line. Clemson's OL wasn't going to run the ball against that interior line. Young is legit good, but we did well enough against him, it was their interior that stuffed the running game and as usual, we don't try after a certain point. Thankfully they got my man the ball in space and he finished with nearly 100 yards receiving, including the final score.

The targeting call turned the game. I agree its a stupid rule, as anyone who follows me should know. But a direct helmet hit on the QB is going to get called if you lower your head, and he did lower his head. If his eyes were up, its a no call and maybe we lose the game. After that score I knew we were fine. Trevor got a huge run to make it 16-14 and they were reeling a little, we just needed to get the passing game going better.

I figured OSU would give us another shot once we went up 21-16 and we made the bust in the secondary to give it to them. We made them earn the drive but Day just caught us in the wrong call with no safety help in the middle, no way was Turner going to stop that pass if it was thrown accurately. Day caught Venables in the wrong call several times tonight, its a chess match and we pulled it out, but it easily could've flipped the other way. Ryan Day did an excellent job preparing his team.

After the big plays by Amari Rodgers and Etienne to score the final TD, i did not think OSU could move down the field the full length to score again, but we went with some soft coverage on Dobbins that i dont totally understand and they made some plays. Nolan Turner kept his eyes on the ball when the WR slipped and we sealed the deal to get another trip to the natty.

Some general thoughts I have were that our interior DL did not do a good job getting any pressure. Foster, Davis... those guys need to get off blocks better. It can't all be slants and stunts. Davis showed flashes, but Fields still had way too much time tonight. This is very important to get pressure on Burrow.

Venables took away Fields' first read, which I expected, and due to some injuries maybe he didn't have the ground game he usually had, so a great job there. It was the sometimes soft coverage that irked me most.

Clemson didn't run Etienne enough, but some of it really lies on calls and not our inability to block a good defensive front. LSU is not as good up front as Ohio St, but they don't suck either.

TL was a off on his accuracy, and we needed some other guys to step up when Higgins went out and Ross got banged up. Ngata, Ladson, Rodgers, Overton, we needed them to do more tonight. TL didn't get a ton of time to get the ball out but these guys were not getting open. Typically we'd murder someone who gave us basically straight C1/C2 M2M coverage. We'll need them to make plays in the next game.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Thoughts after the UNC Debacle

First, credit must be given to NC and Mack Brown, they outplayed us and deserved to win the game. Clemson never really matched their intensity overall. That is on Dabo himself for not having us up for the game, but NC deserved to win and we really didn't. Sam Howell is a good Qb and he'll take NC far over his career in Chapel Hill if Mack recruits some weapons for him.

But I also know the rosters and NC shouldn't have even made it close today. We played like shit and it showed in the scoreboard. Our coaches did not do a great job this week getting us ready.

Clemson's defense had another good day. Venables earned another raise for keeping it close while the offense figured out how to not shoot themselves in the foot.

AJ Terrell had one really bad play, he just got beat for the first TD. It happens. AJ is a good player. The D gave up a score on a short field after Etienne fumbled, and then one bad drive at the end of the game where they had to convert a couple 4th downs. Skeletor figured it out after the first quarter and held them down until the end. Thats good enough to win a game, but once again, our D should not be saving our ass every week with the talent that is on this offense.

Clemson's offense had an awful day. I'm putting this one on the staff overall.

Far too often, when I hear the offensive coaches talk in the post game I hear phrases like these:
"Well they were playing us tight at the line, so we couldnt do ____"
"Well they were doing bump & run so we couldn't _____"
"Well they were taking away the run so we didn't ______"

I don't buy us requiring to be a reactive offense in terms of playcalling.  We have NFL-caliber players at nearly every position, and yet we only do things based on their alignment? If a team plays 6 in the box, we refuse to run. If they play bump & run we refuse to challenge that. If they play 2-high, we can't attack the middle or the sidelines.

Bateman called C2 high all day, which says "we dare you to run, we don't think you can" and yet we DONT give the ball to Etienne? Are you shitting me? A Heisman caliber RB and we don't give him the ball because A&M has 6 in the box and NC plays 2-high all day? When your RB is averaging 5-6 a touch, and they show C2, what do you do? You give him the damn ball. Dabo said afterwards they were inviting us to run, but watching the game, I don't see where the runs were called. I dont know what ScElliott are looking at.

We can dictate how the defense plays us. We're that talented. If they give you 2-high, you attack the MOF coverage with a TE and you run the damn ball until they drop that safety down into the box, then you bust them with a 50 yard pass to Ngata once they start playing 1-high. We don't do that. We refuse to attack what they give us to make them play us the way we'd like. Instead, we throw a screen, which a monkey can read the way we run them, never hit a TE and don't even call the plays for Etienne to bust their ass. Once he busts one they will drop that safety and hit Higgins/Ross, or you keep calling the run and let Etienne destroy them. It appears to me that we see a certain coverage and ScElliott don't adjust to it, they don't know what to do and it shows.

Clemson's OL didn't match NC's intensity up front. We didn't care as much. The Tarholes stunted and stemmed all day, and far too often I see a guy coming up the A-gap and a Center letting him go and the RB overmatched. No adjustment was made.

False starts on 3rd & short are just inexcusable. This killed a drive or two. Don't tell me its too loud, its Kenan Stadium and its half orange. We just weren't interested in being there today. That one is definitely on the staff, its not a problem we've really had under Dabo.
Historically we've self-scouted in the bye week and figured out what was done, hopefull y theres no prob

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Post A&M Thoughts on Clemson

I figured I'd at least put some thoughts out there even if i don't write every week anymore, if people read it, then great, but I do like to write for myself.

When I saw the line on this A&M game was running at 18-19 this week, I told everyone to take the points because there was no way we'd cover that. After how well Mond played against us last year, and how I felt they played during the rest of their season, I could not see us really stifling him and his receivers with what we've lost from last year's excellent team, especially up front.

But today's performance surprised me, Mond played like trash. He couldn't hit open guys at all until the 4th Q when we had already started running some backups out and BV switched to more soft zone. I don't think it was all our guys causing it either, Mond just couldnt get it going early. Jimbo was typical Jimbo, and had us in the 1st Q, while they were running the ball very well... and then in Jimbo fashion, stops doing what works and kills their drive, then doesn't come back to it again later.

Clemson's defense went with a lot of 3-3-5 for the 2nd week in a row. For GT I felt it was odd, maybe he saw something he was trying to exploit, but now I see theres a reason and its because our DL isn't what it was the last several years. I believe Skeletor is going with another LB as opposed to the 4th lineman because he knows we don't have 4 DL guys that are ready for primetime right now. He wants the flexibility to use the 3rd backer to blitz from different gaps and angles because the front 4 right now cannot get pressure on the QB. BV has always been an 8-man front guy by design, and he's still doing that, but with different personnel because the typical personnel aren't ready. Its plainly apparent when you see us using 30-fronts and getting almost no pressure at all on the QB the last couple weeks unless we sneak someone in around the edge or in a gap blitz. Four guys are still coming, but one of them is a LB and not an End.

Right now, the DL is just not getting any consistent pass rush. I think this is something we're going to have to develop over the entire season, and the 30-fronts and 3-3-5 alignments are just something we're going to have to run out there until the down linemen can improve their pass rush technique and the ability to get off blocks. The linebackers are going to be getting the sacks this year if we ever get close to the TFL/Sack production of the last few seasons.

Otherwise I think the D proved that we don't have a ton to worry about from them this season. If we continue to tackle well and can generate some pass rush, we should be there at the end.

That Etienne never got going didn't shock me. Elko is a good DC, and apparently they keyed on him all week in practice, so much that they relaxed for Dixon and he hurt them whenever he was in the game instead. Clemson's OL blocked well for him last week, not so much this week. The interior has to get people off the ball and didnt.

A&M also got quite a bit of pressure on TL until we were able to push tempo and gas them a little. I wasn't impressed by the pass blocking last week and early today I don't think they did a good job giving Trevor any time. As usual, its the OL that gives me the most heartburn.

Trevor was a little off last week and not quite as sharp as he can play today but the offense will be fine so long as the OL plays well and improves. I think that after the Bye week we will start running people out of the stadium, as usually that has been when our offense really runs on all 12 cylinders and I don't think this year will be any different.

Syracuse's new QB doesn't play as gritty as Dungey and I doubt we'll be in danger of any loss this week, even if they are a scrappy team under Babers.