Pitiful Preparation and Gameplanning Doom the Tigers

Yesterday was an epic FAIL from a football perspective. Losing a football game is bad. Losing because your coaching staff is inept is another thing. I will try to keep this short and simple so we can move forward to the rest of the season.

Why did we lose? Our coaching staff and team were not prepared to win. Our offensive strategy was crap. Clemson looked pretty flat for most of this contest but I am not sure you can blame the players when our wide receivers coach head coach, his offensive coordinator, and running backs coach have no clue how to progressively call plays and get the right players in the game.  Clemson repeatedly shot itself in the foot later in the game defensively and the Tigers could not come through against a UNC team that has a good bit of its star players suspended to date.

North Carolina is a team who has struggled against the run all year (giving up nearly 180 yards per game on the ground coming into this contest). Clemson made no effort to establish the running game and were quick to line up in bad formations. Why the Tigers will not commit to running Andre Ellington is beyond me. The statistics this season tell the whole story and the statistics from the UNC game mirror. He is a better running back than his teammate Jamie Harper, so give him the ball.  See yesterday's rushing stats courtesy of www.espn.com.

 Cu_unc_rushing_medium

The thing that makes me the most frustrated is Harper's rushing style and the lack of adjustment to improve this style.  Harper is a big guy who tip toes to the LOS.  JH would rather dance around than get North/South...as one of my buddies texted me yesterday "Jamie Harper touches the football and a Dancing with the Stars marathon breaks out."  There were plays in yesterday's football game in which it appeared as though Harper was actually decelerating as he approached the LOS. This is unacceptable as is giving him carries that should go to the team’s more productive back. At this point I would rather see Roderick McDowell get a chance to spell Ellington.

Our passing game, while improved over a week, still is not up to snuff. I was a little more encouraged by the young receivers’ (better) ability to make catches but think that we have a long way to go in this category. Considering how poorly our veterans have played to this point in the season, improvement here was not too difficult to attain. Since our "experienced" continued Clemson’s recent tradition of less than impressive play, we should see more of Brown, Hopkins, and McNeal as the season moves forward.

Clemson_receiving_unc_medium

I did not think that Kyle Parker played poorly as some out there on the net feel. He did have extra time to throw, so I can understand some of the fan frustration and request for Boyd to get more action. Parker did not make critical mistakes and definitely was not the reason that Clemson lost the football game. Clemson’s poor offensive strategy and its insistence of utilizing bad formations, poor play calling, and questionable player packages lost us the game. On the topic of KP, I will say that he has missed a few open receivers that probably would have scored TD’s this season and the game in Chapel Hill is no exception. Parker overthrowing a wide open receiver at the beginning of the fourth quarter was a big mistake that was followed by a field goal miss and Clemson coming away with zero points on a promising drive.

The thing that was particularly disappointing about the overthrow of Bryce McNeal at the beginning of the fourth is that Clemson did everything that it needed pre-play to assure that the play would be a success. Clemson motioned the back to move the defense around and create a single safety scenario. The Tigers then got a receiver into the seam and virtually uncovered but were unable to take advantage of this well designed play and (almost) decent execution.

I thought that our offensive line did a pretty good job on the day, especially in the passing game. Parker had a lot of time to throw the ball all afternoon. This, at least, was encouraging and a positive on the day.

Overall, the defensive performance was not bad. Clemson does need to make plays in important situations. I will admit that I was disappointed in the fact that our defense did not force a turnover on the day. Da'Quan Bowers is showing this season why he was the #1 overall recruit a few years ago. I was worried about his attitude and taking plays off but it appears as though he is taking the game a good bit more seriously this season as is required to be a star at this level.

UNC’s first score was set up by the Heels having a short field. UNC had to go a mere 48 yards to put its first 7 points on the board and was highlighted by a big fourth down conversion deep in Clemson territory.

Clemson shot itself in the foot at the end of the first half by allowing UNC to drive 80 yards and extend its lead to 14-3 at the end of the first half. Here Clemson gave up a big 51 yard pass North Carolina was able to take full advantage of this gaff and put the Tigers in an even deeper hole.

The last UNC possession allowed the Heels to burn over 5 minutes and give the ball back to Clemson deep in their own territory with very little time on the clock. Overall, Clemson played well on all but the drives discussed earlier. Had the Tigers been able to force a few turnovers, our offense may have been able to do a little more. While these stats and views look good, I am not happy that Clemson gave up some big plays, made critical mistakes on third/fourth downs, and could not hold UNC to field goal attempts. We need more takeaways moving forward and this defense will need to step up to keep its opponents out of the end zone and at least attempting field goals in future contests.

 Special teams was not really a factor here. Nuke had a nice punt return that set up a Clemson touchdown drive and Catanzaro missed a field goal from 42 yards out that he should have made. Otherwise it was pretty bland. I, like most of you out there, do have a problem with Dwayne Allen’s special teams participation. The man plays every offensive snap every week, no matter the situation or formation. Why in the hell is he also out there playing special teams. I find it humorous that our special teams coordinator (Andre Powell) is also the same Joker who thinks that 15+ carries out of Ellington would bring "diminished results" yet has no problem with Allen being on the field for all the offensive plays and being forced to play special teams. NOTE TO DABO: Quit handing out scholarships to walk-ons and at least use them so that our best overall offensive player won’t have to do stupid crap like play special teams.

Yes, we have a lot of improvement that needs to be made if we are to win games.  I believe we have enough talent to win 10 games in this league but cannot get it done with a coaching staff that has proven week after week that it collectively doesn't know how to gameplan and get execution throughout the day on Saturdays. 

Again at the beginning of the fourth quarter the Clemson defense allowed UNC to methodically drive 76 yards and effectively put the game away. This drive was marred by a couple of key Clemson penalties (holding, pass interference, off sides) All of these penalties occurred on third or first down, with the first two giving the Tarheels a new set of downs and the last off sides turned a 4th and 9 situation into a 4th and 4 that was converted in Clemson territory. The pass interference penalty also negated a Clemson interception and allowed UNC to continue a drive instead of giving Clemson the ball in great position. This was nothing more than a gift flag and came at a very unfortunate point in the game. These mistakes really hurt the Tigers and gave a struggling UNC offense the extra chances that they needed to move down the field.

Clemson still is not physical enough here. Our receivers have had a tough time getting open and when they have gotten open AND Parker sees them, our receivers have dropped way too many passes on the season including a couple yesterday. The box score for the receivers is below. I was more happy to see the receivers contributing more with Nuke getting seven catches and Brown breaking them off with 107 yards receiving with 74 of these coming on his long TD grab. I will admit that I was disappointed with a few key drops especially ones that would have moved the chains. Hopkins had a big drop on a third down in the 3rd period as he was thinking more about getting yards after the catch than just making the grab.

The only thing more disappointing than our rushing strategy is the perspective of our staff. Obviously Swinney/Napier are fine with it because this combination makes the calls. RB coach Andre Powell is more concerned about "diminishing results" that could arise from running Ellington more. News flash: IF YOUR RUNNING BACK CANNOT CARRY THE BALL MORE THAN A DOZEN TIMES A FOOTBALL GAME, SOMETHING IS SERIOUSLY WRONG. Even if Ellington got all the carries in the game (a mere 23 rushing attempts) he still should not be even close to thinking about being tired. This may be one of the stupidest comments I have ever heard out of a position coach and just adds more evidence that Powell is not the best fit for our staff. We already know he cannot recruit; now he has shown he has no clue about the capabilities of his players nor does he realize that it is not uncommon for a running back to touch get two dozen carries in a single football game.

Clemson is nothing short of a disaster from an offensive strategy perspective. The Tigers look completely disorganized and lacked true direction in this category. Clemson finds something that seemingly works and then proceeded to move away from the items that work. This is something that I do not understand, particularly how you can have success running the football then inexplicably (A) change personnel (B) quit running the ball. If your back can get 4 yards a pop, run the freaking football. Run it, run it, run it. Run your back until his legs fall off if you can get 4 yards a carry. Now when you average 4.6 ypc with a back, there is no excuse in the world that you should not run that guy until he cannot physically run any more. 4.6 ypc repeatedly assures you win the football game. Choking off this source of production through substitution and playcalling is unacceptable.

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