2010 has been, well, an interesting year for the football program and the athletics department as a whole. The poor play that we saw today out of our football team just put the nail in the head for this debacle of a football season which ironically, is essentially a microcosm of our athletics department as a whole.
First off, as we have repeatedly discussed, the root of Clemson's problems lie in the administration. We have a Athletic Director who plays the President like a guitar when the chips are down, a President who appears to care little about Clemson athletics, and a BOT that seems to care even less. The latter two seem to want to constrict the athletics department and will smile the biggest if Clemson is just good enough to shut the fans/alumni/boosters up but are not overly successful.
When your school president attempts to fire the AD and the AD tells him where he can go, you have problems. When the President and the Board will not do what is necessary to replace the struggling AD, you have big problems. When everybody listed above accepts the garbage that we saw on ESPN today you have monstrous problems. We will continue to see the same crap on the football field year in and year out until there is an attitude adjustment by those in power . Clemson doesn't care about winning and it is apparent by constant inaction.
What have we learned this year out of our football team? The obvious is that the combination of Dabo Swinney and Billy Napier is not primetime material. Clemson's offense was nothing short of abysmal in 2010. The lack of production was a combination of several items:
Poor play calling--Formations immediately indicate play calls. Play calls are thrown together haphazardly. There is no rhyme or reason to anything that we have done all year except for the opening drive against Auburn. Additionally, what happened to Dwayne Allen at the end of the year and why was he not getting the ball? We also have no identity which is further emphasized by the haphazard choice of play calls.
Poor fundamental play--Our QB had poor footwork and weight distribution all season. Our 2nd best running back is a timid rusher who will not hit holes. We dropped a ton of passes, and put forth little effort blocking at the WR position.
Lack of preparation--We play like crap because that is how we practice. As we have all heard, the boys avoid contact in practice and it shows in the games. We are not prepared for various situations and waste many opportunities because of this. Lack of preparation falls squarely on the coaching staff--the head coach in particular.
Poor choice of personnel--I still have no clue why Andre Ellington was not on the field more than he was and why (see poor play calling) he was not continually fed the football is beyond me. Why we Dye and Clear ever saw the field this season when the better, younger WR's (Nuke, for instance) clearly gave Clemson a better chance to win is also beyond me.
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Defensively, Clemson played well enough to win a lot more games on the season but did have its problems on the year. Part of the defense's issues lie with the Clemson offense being so inept. It never helps your defense when your offense commits bad turnovers in extremely compromising situations. Clemson's front four were arguably the best in the nation this season. Da'Quan Bowers was a beast and Thompson, Branch, and crew had an excellent football season. Clemson controlled the LOS most of the year and was able to get pressure on opposing QB's.
The linebacker play was not great but was improved over a season ago. The secondary had a couple of lapses on the year but the play was acceptable considering the Tigers lost two senior corners from a year ago. Only Alshon Jeffery and Leonard Hankerson consistently killed Clemson--Alshon through pure athletic ability and Hankerson via ability and strategic play calling/use of formation.
We did see the defense give up a couple of times this season. I don't condone such an attitude but can understand them losing focus after the offense repeatedly put them in compromising situations and contributing very little to the team's success.
Special teams was all right when we weren't kicking. Gilchrist, Hopkins, and Ellington were not exactly Spiller and Ford but did do a pretty good job bringing back punts and kicks. Dawson Zimmerman did a nice job especially when our snapper put him in a compromising situation. Snapping SUCKED. Placekicking SUCKED. These two areas contributed to a lot of missed opportunities and gave our opponent some golden chances over the course of the year.
Where do we go from here? We will further discuss the debacle known as the Muffler Bowl. We are putting together our position analyses and will more closely examine each position and coach on this staff. We will be fair but honest in analyzing these potions of the Clemson program. We will not, however, let the focus shift from the root cause of the state of our athletics program and football program in general which is up the food chain from Dabo Swinney.