Yesterday was yet another strange day in college football and a strange day for the Clemson Tigers. Somehow, I guess by dumb luck and by virtue of playing in the ACC Atlantic, this team is a three loss team that is still in the hunt (you could probably say driver's or pretty close seat, because we anticipate a Maryland capitulation before it is all said and done and I could easily see NC State losing another game down the stretch) to repeat as the Atlantic Division representative in the ACCCG this season. All of this is happening while Clemson seems to be regressing as a whole on the field. We will go ahead and thank the defense for another good effort and leave the rest for discussion after the jump.
Somebody should have told me the dang circus was in town because I didn't see the freaking tents.
I don't think this offensive staff is going to get a favorable review this week from the good Dr. and they sure as all hell get the "pack your shit and get out of town" vote from me. I guess we saw tears of relief, as Swinney went from a fan-scathing press conference explaining the loss to, well, probably a fan-scathing presser explaining how our staff and team are the greatest group of people in the ultraverse and they deserve more respect and people out there don't know anything about _____ (you fill in what you don't know).
Overall and outside of the first quarter (and first series in particular), Clemson's defense was lights out yesterday. The team got critical stops all afternoon especially when our offense put them in a tough situation because of a turnover. Clemson, sans, the opening drive for the Pack, was able to keep Russell Wilson and a pretty dangerous offense out of the endzone for the final three quarters of the football game. The defense won the game yesterday and Clemson was VERY, VERY fortunate that the defense came to play and that NC State could not capitalize on very opportune situations during the game.
On to the
bad pathetic unacceptable and vomit inducing portion of the football game. Our offense flat out sucks, as does the majority of our special teams. I guess I'll get on special teams first, as it almost cost us the game yesterday then get on our offense because it should have cost us the game against NC State.
Why in the hell do we have three, yes three field goal kickers on staff and none of them can put the ball through the uprights? Yes I know that Richard Jackson allegedly kicked the ball from Greenwood all the way to Columbia once in high school but I really don't give a shit if he cannot make a 30 yard kick. Our scholarship allocation has been a touchy subject around here and if you include our special teams "specialists" we waste a lot of scholarships on players who probably should not be in a Division 1 football game.
Another special teams "specialist" who almost cost us the game was long snapper Matt Skinner. I don't know why we have a player on scholarship who does nothing but long snap, but don't care if he is jam up there and we don't have A SINGLE bad snap on the year. If we have ANY bad snaps, this is a misallocated scholarship as we could get another lineman or a linebacker to snap and occasionally screw something up (although there is no excuse). Skinner had two bad snaps yesterday...the first missed field goal then the punt near the end of the game. We are lucky that we have a punter (Dawson Zimmerman) with the athletic ability of an early ‘90's Ken Griffey Jr. to retrieve bad snaps and avoid complete disaster for this team.
FINALLY, I am tired of seeing our return men fumbling the football on returns. The bad thing about our fumbles is they have been unforced errors (ie, non-contact blunders). We cannot seem to cleanly field a kick then run during kickoffs. I will say that Marcus Gilchrist had a very nice (76 yard) kick return in the early part of the 4th quarter. I am only sorry that our offense completely pissed away this opportunity, as we will discuss below.
Clemson's offense is, well, offensive to watch. We have a QB who showed that he can sit in the pocket and throw well. Just when you get more comfortable with him tossing the ball, Kyle Parker starts throwing the ball across his body and makes critical mistakes. Our QB situation is frustrating to say the least. We did, however, get a pretty good idea of where the staff thinks we are personnel wise as Kyle Parker had all of the pass attempts (by one of our quarterbacks) on the afternoon. Maybe KP just needs to quit scrambling or trying to throw the ball after scrambling, I don't know.
We simply make way too many mistakes on offense to win football games. We had a stupid interception and put the ball on the ground a couple of times. These are things that our anemic (probably a nice way to describe it) offense is not good enough to overcome these mistakes. The most frustrating part about these turnovers was where they occurred. Kyle Parker's interception occurred deep in NC State territory. Assuming we figure out how to kick a reasonable field goal, that is the equivalent of giving up three points. On a side note, said error ALMOST lost us the football game as a block in the back was the only reason NC State didn't turn this error into six points. Another key error occurred deep in our own territory. Clemson does something good (blocked a kick) in the second quarter then Tajh Boyd cannot get the handoff to Jamie Harper, giving NC State the ball again deep in our territory. I know Boyd hasn't played much to date, but we cannot have these mistakes in such critical areas of the game and in critical areas of the football field.
That is one issue. We still have a play calling issue. 260 yards total offense (this number includes 21 negative yards accumulated by Parker) is unacceptable. I know we have a lot of specific issues but 260 yards total offense? 14 offensive points, seven of them coming on an extremely short field set up after your defense forced a fumble is not acceptable and the blame must start with the man who is orchestrating this thing, at least in title. After watching yesterday's performance, I don't think I would end the blame with him and would vote to fire the ENTIRE offensive staff (even, I hate to say it, Danny Pearman because of guilt by association). Let's look at this thing position by position:
Jeff Scott: We finally have better personnel on the field but are still dropping balls and had a fumble by a WR this week. The silver lining is that we are getting our younger guys into games and they are outperforming the veterans (seniors). The other side is that we still drop balls and this unit falls short.
Andre Powell: His comments a few weeks ago when comparing Ellington to Harper absolutely sealed the deal for me. We already told you that Powell should have been replaced after last season and results from this year further solidify those views.
Brad Scott: Did you watch our offensive line yesterday? Pathetic. NC State completely shut down our running game and were getting great pressure on passing downs. They simply whipped us all over the place, limiting Clemson to 260 total yards on the afternoon. We all saw McClain and Walker get rolled over all day against the Pack. The worst part about this whole offensive line fiasco is that we have developed little quality talent behind our starters (I would substitute the word "no" for little but that wouldn't be accurate as Mason Cloy has given the Tigers quality snaps during his career). This is squarely a Brad Scott issue and unfortunately he brings Danny Pearman down with him simply based on results to date.
Billy Napier: Billy is (by title) in charge of this whole thing. How much of this offense is really his is up for debate, but he is the offensive coordinator and by default is the man responsible for making this thing go. Thus, he gets the praise if we put up 60 and the criticism when we play like we have this season.
We are where we are and, save some miraculous run to end the season, these guys will deservedly be under pressure when the season ends. Whatever the reason (poor practice methodology, a clash in philosophy between the head coach/offensive coordinator, bad formations, poor personnel groupings, etc...), we suck on offense and need adjustments as this thing isn't fixing itself.
In short, Dabo and the offensive portion of the staff should be buying the defensive folks a few dinners for saving their asses again this week. I am happy that we are able to play decent defense for the most part but am, like most of you out there, tired of our offense and kick teams being a liability for Clemson's football program.