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.