Clemson/GT Sunday Thoughts

ATLANTA, GA - OCTOBER 29: Mike Bellamy #5 of the Clemson Tigers fails to pull in this reception against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Bobby Dodd Stadium on October 29, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Back to reality. Clemson lost the game last night because GT wanted it more, plain and simple.  We got whipped up and down the football field.  We were fortunate with a couple of items and official's calls that went our way but ultimately poor defensive play, inability to properly respond to Al Groh's pressure schemes, and our offense turning the ball over/not capitalizing when opportunity knocked that caused last night's loss.  Yes, it has been a good ride.  Yes, the bubble has popped.  No, the season is not over.  I'll remind you of the STS expectations...we expect 10 wins and want an ACC Championship.  Both of those goals are still attainable if we can figure out how to play better than we did last night.  If you're new to the site, here are our expectations

These were defined last season after the Auburn game when we correctly hammered everyone associated with the Clemson program in advance of what will forever be referred to as the "Debacle that was Clemson's 2010 season."  We saw it coming, warned everyone, then got hate mail from those with orange glasses on because they couldn't see the forest for the trees.  This year's football team is much different and we are definitely not saying that the sky is falling after last night's loss.

We lost the most important thing last night, the belt.  It was a nice run and I only hope to chronicle this College Championship Belt in the future.  I will go ahead and drop this picture (the Sweatshirt rocking the 10 lbs of gold) in because, plain and simple, it is awesome.  Should we win our division and Va Tech win out, we could possibly get another shot at the belt in Charlotte.  That is a long way off, but still a possibility.

Dabo_belt_medium

We have pimped Kevin Steele pretty hard here over the last three years or so but my patience with his "system" is running low.  A Georgia Tech offense that struggled the past couple weeks looked like a well-oiled machine following Steele and the Tigers' visit to Hotlanta.  Paul Johnson whips Steele's ass more than Steele and our fanbase would like.  Two in '09 and then last night, Paul Johson 3-Kevin Steele 1.  It appeared as though Steele paid more attention to Beavis and Butthead's return to the "M" than he did looking at the little things that allowed GT to control the football on the ground last night.  Apparently Steele missed Dr. B's assessment on how to beat GT, because we didn't hit their QB, instead I think our guys were giving high 5's to the QB for his good plays instead of putting him on the ground.

Annually we get some excuse about being young and thin.  Those are things that you simply have to overcome.  Our linebackers are not young, yet still are not properly positioned.  We are thin up front, but depth had nothing to do with Brandon Thompson having the ability to disrupt plays by pushing the center 3 yards into the backfield and, instead of effing up their world with penetration, we line him up at a three technique and allow the Tech offense to work our defense.  It is no wonder they killed us with the dive then midline...we gave it to them on a silver platter.  I still don't know what is wrong with our secondary.  I will assure you it is not Coach Cheese and think most of the gaffs can be attributed to an inadequate practice philosophy. 

Clemson's practices are soft compared to the practices you would have seen 25 years ago.  This softness results in poor tackling technique, an inability to get off of blocks, and our receivers not being able to get off of a jam.  Tech taunted us with man coverage but, because we cannot defeat a simple jam.  I believe we have discussed getting off a jam here before, but have it on my list for the offseason.  Essentially, you can either use quickness to avoid a jam, physicality to get through the jam or some combination of the two.  Rip and Swim techniques are the most popular and effective techniques to fight through and defeat a jam.  Our receivers didn't use these techniques last night and got embarrassed at the LOS.  There is no excuse for a guy like Martavis Bryant to end up in the first row of the stadium.  He is a big guy and, I would wager, has better size than the corner jamming him.  Because we are not physical at practice and because we do not teach proper technique, we are getting beaten every time a play turns physical.  We have been jumping up and down yelling about this topic for quite some time.  I understand that coaches don't want to have their players hurt in practice BUT blocking, jamming, and tackling drills are a necessity as they are the only way to repetitively instill proper technique and assure the other team doesn't manhandle you the way GT did Clemson last night.

All that being said, Clemson squandered its chances on offense last night.  The defense put us in excellent position with about 10 minutes left to cut the GT lead to seven and miscommunication/a missed read by Tajh Boyd gave the Jackets the ball back when Clemson should have pounced.  Also, we turned the ball over four times on the night.  I don't want to hear any crying out of our running backs when their asses are on the bench because they cannot hold onto the football.  Mike Bellamy in particular.  He is a stud athlete but that does you no good if he carries the football like a loaf of bread.  He has been careless with the rock all year and last night it really, really hurt our squad.  I cannot wait for Andre Ellington to be back to full strength because (A) he is good and (B) he understands the importance of securing the football.

Again to repeat:  Georgia Tech wanted this one more than Clemson.  Clemson is still a soft team because that is how we practice.  Kevin Steele again got worked by Paul Johnson, not because of overall philosophy but because of little things like CU's inability to defeat cut blocks and poor decisions regarding player alignment, especially up front.  Clemson was careless with the football and Georgia Tech minimized our possessions which further magnified the ball handling gaffs we saw out of the Clemson offense.  Finally, the season is not over...this team still has a chance to accomplish a lot of its goals and, most importantly, hit the metrics we at STS believe to be reasonable. 

Two wins and we win 10 regular season games.  A win in two weeks and we secure the Atlantic Division so that we ultimately have a chance to win a conference championship.  Nobody was expecting a national championship back in August but we have consistently set the regular season win mark at 10 and the goal to win the ACC.  While we are never happy about a loss and want the mistakes to be corrected, we are even-keeled and look at the big picture.  As much as we criticize, we also want to give credit where credit is due.  If Clemson runs the table, and particularly if our Tigers can win the ACCCG, the season is a success and we'll refer to the GT game as an annoyance that could happen to anyone.  If we don't rebound to hit 10 wins, though, we'll have other opinions.  I won't open that box just yet as we think that this team has the aptitude and attitude to get achieve the items we've requested.

Let's see if the Sweatshirt can regroup after an off-week.  One victory over Wake Forest and we can start thinking about a trip to Miami for New Year's.

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