Inside the Numbers: Clemson's Offensive Playcalling vs Georgia Tech

We have repeatedly had complaints about the Clemson playcalling.  Please do not get me wrong, we are pleased to get a win against Tech, were happy about the overall offensive numbers (yards and points), and were pleased with the way that our defense played last Saturday.  Thus, there was plenty to be pleased about, including shutting up the Jacket faitful who were quick to tell us how superior Tech is/was at the game of football.

I do however, think that we are not utilizing all of our weapons as well as possible.  Let's give this one a look.

We will start with Andre Ellington:

Quarter

Rush Att.

Tot Yards

YPC

1

7

78

11.1

2

1

42

42

3

2

5

2.5

4

10

41

4.1

Total

20

166

8.3

After ripping it up with 7 carries for 78 yards in the first quarter, Ellington carried the ball a mere three times in quarters 2 and 3 combined, with his lone second quarter carry going for 42 yards.  These numbers tell me one thing:  Ellington needs to touch the ball, preferably more than eight times a half especially when the man has 120 yards on those eight carries.

After seeing this 1st half production, the Tigers came out and rewarded the ACC's most productive back with a whopping two carries in the third quarter.  I understand that there were a couple of things we may have been trying to work on and players that needed reps, but 2 carries?  That seems way too few.  Ellington then came back and got to the magic number of 20 carries in a game on a long 4th quarter drive that we were all happy to see.  We need to see Ellington get more carries throughout the game.  (more after the jump) 

One thing that we heard here from many places is how Clemson ran the ball 37 times and threw a mere 27 times (obviously a +10 in the number of rushes category).  First I would like to look at the overall play breakdown per quarter then give you a cumulative percentage as the game progressed.  You will notice that the majority of our rushing attempts outside of the 1st quarter occurred only when we were trying to run the clock out to preserve the victory.

Hence, here is a play breakdown per quarter:

Quarter

No. of Rushing Plays

No. of Passing Plays

Total Plays

% Rush

% Pass

1

12

12

24

50%

50%

2

3

7

10

30%

70%

3

2

6

8

25%

75%

4

20

2

22

91%

9%

Total

37

27

64

58%

42%

Clemson was definitely balanced in the first quarter but was extremely pass happy in the 2nd and 3rd periods.  Clemson then needed to burn time and ran the ball effectively in the fourth quarter.  Clemson has to do a better job than we did Saturday with mid-game playcalling.  70-75% of the plays in the 2nd/3rd quarter passes?  Especially when we ran the ball so well with Ellington?  I understand that Ellington's long run in the 2nd took away possible future running attempts but this ratio seems extremely out of whack.

We put together cumulative stats (totalled at the end of each quarter) and these statistics tell a clearer tale:

 

% Rushing Plays  (Cumulative)

% Passing Plays(Cumulative)

Through 1Q

50%

50%

Through 2Q

44%

56%

Through 3Q

40%

60%

Final

58%

42%

Through three quarters, Clemson, which had been able to run at will, passed the ball on 60% of its plays.  This negates the arguement that Clemson repeatedly ran the ball just because the end statistics showed nearly 40 rushing attempts on the afternoon.

Another statistic that I thought was interesting was the yardage gained quarter by quarter and cumulatively over the course of the football game.  Even with the limited number of carries in the 2nd quarter, we were able to gain over 50 yards in this period and had more yards on the ground despite the fact that we threw the ball 70% of the time in this quarter.  I will say that we did throw the ball 3 times as much as we ran in the third period and pulled in 64 of our 69 yards through the air here.  The fourth quarter was dominated by the ground game. 

Quarter

Rush (yards)

Pass (yards)

Total (yards)

% Rush

% Pass

1

103

71

174

59%

41%

2

51

46

97

53%

47%

3

5

64

69

7%

93%

4

78

3

81

96%

4%

Total

237

184

421

56%

44%

 

The final statistic I will share is the cumulative (after each quarter) yardage gained.  Here you will see that despite the near abandonment of the running game in the middle of the contest, rushing yards were a major contributor for this team through the 3rd period and, obviously, through the 4th:

 

% of Totlal Yardage Gained Rushing (Cumulative)

% of Total Yardage Gained Passing (Cumulative)

Through 1Q

59%

41%

Through 2Q

57%

43%

Through 3Q

47%

53%

Final

56%

44%

The long and the short of this article is that I believe that we cannot abandon the run, especially when we have a lead.  Additionally I would love to see our best rusher, Ellington, get consistent carries throughout the football game.

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