2010 Position Analysis: Offensive Line under Brad Scott and Dan Pearman

via clemson.greenvilleonline.com

Though the positions along the Offensive line are technically split between C&G (Scott) and Tackles (Pearman), its pretty obvious to anyone who watches the sidelines at games that the man doing the coaching is Brad Scott. You'd see Brad on one knee explaining things to the seated linemen as a group and Pearman would be standing over his shoulder uttering a few words, if he was noticed, to the tackles or a TE. Pearman may be officially the Tackles/TE coach, but it is Brad's group. Danny is just another set of eyes and another teacher in practice and his addition to the staff as Tackles coach (and not simply TE coach) was essentially an admission that the OL needed extra help. Brad approved their offers to Clemson when they were recruited and taught these guys from day one. Therefore, any blame or praise goes chiefly to him.

This does not absolve Pearman from a bad performance by the Tackle position either however. In case anyone wasn't paying attention, Pearman's new role with Caldwell coming on the staff does not include the Tackle position. Pearman will be solely TE and ST coach in 2011. However we review both Scott and Pearman in this article as if they were to continue in the position, just like everyone else. We will not review the TE position specifically in this series of reviews.

How we evaluate Pearman and Scott

  • Recruiting
  • Passing sacks allowed and pass blocking
  • Rushing statistics and overall tenacity in run blocking

We've always heard Brad Scott was a well-respected coach and was a great recruiter. He was brought in by Tommy Bowden after SC canned him as HC. Therefore he has been a common denominator during the last decade of ups & downs. His first job was TEs on Bowden's first staff with Rich Rodriguez, but we never threw to the TE. Rodriguez spread option had yet to incorporate H-backs significantly, though in subsequent years this and many derivative spread option systems have done so. After RichRod left, following the 2000 season, Bowden promoted him to Offensive Coordinator because he had experience with it at FSU. He went on to be the most predictable coordinator I've ever known and in many games his offense would totally disappear (a Clemson trademark, in retrospect)....Oh and we still didnt throw to the TE (Ben Hall).  In fact, I can only recall Hall as being a great recruit at TE who actually made it in school. Irvin Brisker was a 4-star in 2002, who never qualified and never played at Clemson. Phil Merling and Xavier Littleberry were TEs recruited as DL.

Then when the offense struggled in 2003, Bowden took the playcalling duties away to save his job. We recall how that turned out. Brad was demoted for QB Coach Mike O'Cain to take over the offense in 2004, after Whitehurst had come on to finish out 2003. I would think that if he was so well-respected that this would've never happened, and that if he wanted the job he'd be able to move elsewhere, but Brad was put on the OL before spring workouts in 2004 and has been there ever since. If I'm going to be hard on a coach, I'm going to look at the body of work he has put together, so now we'll look at Brad's record on the line.

In evaluating recruiting, I think its paramount to know how the staff works. As of now, the entire staff sees a prospect's film and decides to offer with the blessing of a position coach, and then the recruiter assigned to that prospect's area/state goes and builds the relationship. A position coach does not always recruit his position, and in many cases he doesn't get heavily involved until the end of the cycle. This is not how the staff has always worked though, and some linemen we have signed were not offered by Brad Scott. Everyone who we have signed since 2005 have been under him though, as shown below.

Brad Scott Recruiting Signings, 2005-Present
NAME Position Hometown High School Ht/Wt/40 Rivals Rating Assigned Recruiter(s) Class
Shaq Anthony OL Piedmont, SC Wren 6'4"/260/5.1 3 stars Brad Scott   2011
Mike Bellamy RB Punta Gorda, FL Charlotte 5'10"/185/4.4 5 stars Brad Scott   2011
Martavis Bryant WR Chatham, VA Hargrave Military Academy 6'4"/195/NA 4 stars Brad Scott   2011
Sammy Watkins WR Fort Myers, FL South Fort Myers 6'1"/180/4.5 5 stars Brad Scott   2011
Martavis Bryant WR Anderson, SC T. L. Hanna 6'4"/190/4.4 4 stars Brad Scott   2010
Jake Nicolopulos LB Anderson, SC T. L. Hanna 6'2"/220/4.7 3 stars Brad Scott   2010
J.K. Jay OL Greenville, SC Christ Church 6'6"/275/4.8 4 stars David Blackwell, Brad Scott 2009
Dalton Freeman OL Pelion, SC Pelion 6'6"/270/5 4 stars Brad Scott   2008
Marquan Jones WR Blythewood, SC Blythewood 6'0"/173/4.4 4 stars Brad Scott   2008
Kenneth Page OL Columbia, SC A.C. Flora 6'4"/293/5.1 4 stars Brad Scott   2008
Jon Richt QB Athens, GA Prince Avenue Christian 6'2"/185/5 3 stars Brad Scott   2008
Matt Sanders OL Crestview, FL Crestview 6'5"/293/5.2 3 stars Brad Scott, Vic Koenning 2008
Mason Cloy OL Columbia, SC Spring Valley 6'4"/265/4.9 3 stars Brad Scott   2007
Jarvis Jenkins DT Central, SC Daniel 6'5"/308/4.9 4 stars Brad Scott   2007
Wilson Norris OL Pickens, SC Pickens 6'5"/320/5.2 3 stars Brad Scott   2007
Darius Gaither DB Winnsboro, SC Fairfield Central 6'0"/195/4.4 4 stars Brad Scott   2006
Chris Hairston OL Winston-Salem, NC Carver 6'5"/270/4.8 3 stars Brad Scott, Marion Hobby 2006
Thomas Austin OL Camden, SC Camden 6'4"/286/5.1 3 stars Brad Scott   2005

Brad's recruiting area has been a large segment of SW FL and the area immediately surrounding Clemson for the last two cycles. Brad has old friends in that area of FL since his days in Tallahassee, and keeping him closer to Clemson was thought to be so that he could stay close to Clemson and spend more time with the Linemen rather than on the road. We don't buy the latter, given the less-than-impressive performance up front.

Last year he was the recruiter of record for LB Jake Nicolopulos and WR Martavis Bryant, both from the area around Clemson (TL Hanna). My opinion is that if you can't get a kid from Anderson, then he doesnt want to be anywhere near home. We were not heavily in it with any other recruit in the cycle. 5-star OL Robert Crisp was at one time impressed, and Clemson fell off his map, and he went with NC State.

This season Brad Scott is listed as the recruiter for 3-star OT Shaq Anthony, from our backyard, and a legacy commit, as his dad Vernie played for Danny Ford. He is of course listed again for Martavis Bryant after the semester at Hargrave. His best job, in a decade, on the recruiting trail has been pulling in both 5-star RB Mike Bellamy and WR Sammy Watkins using his old Floridian connections. Its tremendous even if he took Jeff Scott to help with them. We were not heavily in it with any other Brad Scott recruit this cycle. 247Sports named him one of the nation's top recruiters for this effort, while Rivals named him a Top 25 Recruiter this year, and deservedly so.

In 2009 he signed OT J.K. Jay, from Greenville SC, our backyard, and there was no doubt in anyone's mind that Jay would come here. No other recruits. His last full class of signees was one that included C Dalton Freeman, WR Marquan Jones, OG Kenneth Page (miss in evaluation), QB Jon Richt (LOL), and OG Matt Sanders (miss in evaluation). He recruited OG Mason Cloy, DT Jarvis Jenkins, and OG Wilson Norris (miss in evaluation, though he was moreso a Koenning recruit) the year before this.  It turns out in the end that Page was a guy who had only a couple commitable offers to choose from (ND, UNC) and picked Clemson -- most everyone else retracted their offers. Many of these guys are from the area immediately surrounding Clemson, as you can see above, and most would've come here no matter what.

Why, if Brad Scott was as tremendous a recruiter as some Clemson fans would have us believe, did he not have a full plate of prospects each year? SW Florida is stocked full of them year after year after year. Its not like Miami is getting them all, since Shannon sucked as a recruiter. Upstate SC is not full of them. Brad didn't even go to Atlanta to recruit David Beasley until the end of his recruitment last winter. If he's not on the road, and the line can't push Coastal Carolina around, then what was he doing before this cycle?

Our biggest complaint, even with the yearly ups & downs in recruiting, is Clemson's OL offer board. We never take enough linemen each year, and each year Brad plays musical chairs (except this year) with the Tackles and Guards by moving them in and out and back and forth between positions. If Brad knows his talent pool is small, why doesn't he fight for an offer board twice the size? Why wouldn't he fight to go get the offensive linemen that we need to become a consistently good offensive team? Why do we always have only 5 or 6 (max) guys that can actually play up front for the last 5 years? Brad has the pull within the staff, and has had it under both head coaches. His pull for Dabo may have swayed offensive staff meetings towards Dabo's 4-wide philosophy and undermined Napier's ability to call his own offense.

Then the Linemen we do pull in are rarely top-flight linemen. That tells you something about their regard for Brad Scott's ability as a coach. How many high draft picks has he had on the line? Yeah, you know. Opponents use that against us every cycle, UGA in particular hammers us with it. I don't think we've lost every OL recruit we fight for just because of UGA being UGA. Rodney Garner isn't shelling out all that money for these guys.

I could care less where Brad has coached, but I don't think he has been hungry to prove himself on the recruiting trail since he was fired at SC.

On the other hand, Danny Pearman is not known for being a recruiter. His background rarely ever communicates great successes as a recruiter. However, he was the recruiter for Tajh Boyd in 2009 (with Napier), since Tajh was from the Tidewater area of VIrginia, which along with a portion of NC, and the beach along SC's coast, is Pearman's zone. Last year he landed Josh Watson, and if not for Laurence Gibson's mother, we might still have him as well. We lost out on DB David Amerson and OL Ed Christian under Pearman's watch.

Pearman was given territory in South Georgia as well, which is almost as stacked as SW Florida. He had a bevy of prospects to recruit and we were really not in it with them. TE Jay Rome, arguably the best TE in the country and a legacy prospect, grew disenchanted with us back in the Summer, after all last spring we kept hearing how we led for him. We didn't even get an official visit, even after Napier was added to help with Rome. He managed a single visit from DE Ray Drew, who we also knew was going elsewhere for months because we completely bungled it early on. Two prime QB targets were also lost (Christian LeMay and Everett Golson). The only commitments Pearman is listed for are: gray shirt QB Morgan Roberts, LB/FB Colton Walls -- who don't even deserve a Clemson offer for one, and two is more of a Dabo-being-Dabo offer  -- and DT Jerome Maybank (a Brooks offer, but with some of the worst film out there). The staff didn't even review Maybank's film before offering.

I'm missing something here...why is one of the worst recruiters on staff given territories with some of the best prospects? Why wouldn't you extend Steele's region of the PeeDee to the beach so he can recruit Golson? Why did they give Charlotte to Pearman when we had a strong presence there with Napier? Dan Brooks (Kings Mtn) or Charlie Harbison (Shelby native) should have territories extended back into the Charlotte area. Additionally, If my main OL coach is the great recruiter everyone says he is, why would I not reassign some regions to him so that he is the one going after the best players? Why doesnt Brad even recruit a more talent-laden portion of S.C.?

Hits and Misses in Evaluation

Offensive linemen are the one position that are the toughest for a coach to evaluate in HS. Sometimes a guy could just be big in HS and not really be all that great. Sometimes his quickness is deceptive against weak defensive competition. Sometimes he could have everything physically and just be a wimp, like Cory Lambert.

I'm sure Cory Lambert would've been a flat miss anywhere he signed, and he could've signed anywhere. He just lacks the fire of a Nathan Bennett, which frankly I think all our linemen are missing. Perhaps under another OL coach, or 4 years of Pearman, he'd have become meaner and a great one, but thats pure speculation. All I know is that Lambert never did anything here, despite having all the physical gifts necessary for a Tackle.

Also notice the numbers that have been brought in on the below depth chart. There are several seniors and several freshmen, with few in-between. Linemen, being so hard to evaluate and so oft injured, should be brought in more. Even if you have to take a few extra non blue-chippers, then a minimum of 4 should be brought every season. A smaller recruiting offer board has contributed to this. Scott brings in Tackles and moves them all to Guard because they dont develop as Tackles. He brings in Guards and they get moved to Center. Thats the coach's fault: he has to motivate the player to improve and the strength/conditioning coach must keep a Tackle more athletic and in better shape than a Guard.  These items have turned the OL depth chart into one big game of Twister with most every player being moved around in the middle of the season.

Who has been a miss under Brad's watch? JaMarcus Grant, Lambert, Jamal Medlin (before injury), are definite misses in evaluation. Matt Sanders and Wilson Norris are misses.

A hit? Hairston was a late offer at the Shrine Bowl and is a hit, Thomas Austin had developed until last year, but then stopped improving. JK Jay definitely was a hit, which sucks now that he's gone. I personally think Dalton Freeman is a hit. Some of the rest were fairly evaluated, you can decide that for yourself. I dont know about LT Brandon Thomas yet but the staff thinks he will be. I thought he was good in HS.  As for the other freshmen and the recruits we've brought in, its too early to tell. I'm very high on David Beasley and Kalon Davis, if he gets in shape.


Prospective Clemson Offensive Line Depth 2011
LT LG Center RG RT
Brandon Thomas (So) David Smith (SR)   Dalton Freeman (Jr) Antoine McClain (SR) Landon Walker (SR)
Phillip Price (SR) Mason Cloy (SR) Matt Sanders (Jr) Reid Webster (Fr) Gifford Timothy ? (Fr)
Shaq Anthony* David Beasley (Fr) Ryan Norton* Kalon Davis (Fr) Isaiah Battle*

*-assuming no RS.

Obviously some educated guesswork goes into this depth chart. Robbie Caldwell could change things up more. I think some folks put too much emphasis on the chart, particularly on OL, but its here for tracking purposes anyway. For example, everyone will freak that I/we have Timothy at backup RT, but anyone with a brain knows that Price will go right in should Walker get hurt. David Smith could move over to LT if Thomas doesn't work out early on. Reid Webster could be moved back outside to RT. Cloy would go in at Center if Freeman gets hurt too, for example. There may be only 5 or 6 guys you can win with in 2011 here but 1's and 2's are really just practice units. Again, the lack of depth is due to not carrying a large enough offer board.

The big problem is if both OT's go down, obviously.

ALL will need to get in better physical condition. McClain is naturally strong, but is very heavy and won't be able to take the punishment of 80 plays in his current condition. Kalon Davis will challenge Reid for the 4th spot in the rotation, but his weight must come down to play in this system. Cloy would probably need to lose just a few pounds. Smith would need to lose a fair bit more, so I could see Cloy getting the starting nod back this Spring. It just depends on how Spring ball and summer conditioning works out as to who is listed as the starter at the start of August practice. Early word to us on conditioning so far is that the plan Morris gave to the Linemen is really kicking their asses, and that Batson does not like implementing it.

I do hope Beasley cracks the Top 4, or at least figures in the rotation. He will need to do so this year to get us some depth for 2012. If I recall he came in a bit heavy last August, which hopefully has been attended to.

Given that we project 70-80 plays per game, as opposed to 50-60 before, it is reasonable to expect to see the young guys on the field more than you're accustomed to. They will be required to, which only helps us later.

Incoming Help: I am going to assume Shaq Anthony (T), Spencer Region (G), Ryan Norton (C) all redshirt. All offensive linemen should redshirt. Jerome Maybank should end up at Guard, but is slated for DT to start. Joe Gore is one that could end up being moved to Tackle as well. Isaiah Battle is a Tackle, and likely a Prep placement at Fork Union. The best thing about their condition for this offense is that they have not yet put on too much weight with Batson's methods.

Pass Blocking

Clemson's OL has ranged from bad to very good in pass blocking over the last 6 years. Last year, aside from Derrick Morgan or when our Head Coach signals the wrong protection, our Line did a very good job protecting Kyle Parker. Two years ago it was off/on due to injuries and no depth (OFFER BOARD). This year it was similarly good/bad, but the stats do show relatively few sacks given up by the Tigers once again.

Clemson Sacks Allowed
Year Allowed/Games National Rank ACC Ranking
2010 18/13 26th 3rd
2009 19/14 31 2
2008 33/13 103 11
2007 35/13 100 8
2006 15/13 6 1st

I think it should be mentioned that Kyle has happy feet and eludes sacks so well that it behooves us to not take the numbers as literal proof of good pass blocking. Wake Forest and Boston College both got great pressure with only 3 down linemen.

Landon Walker does an average job overall of pass protection at RT, Hairston at LT is better. Both can be beaten by quick moves and stunting, but Walker seems to be beaten inside less. Hairston at times did get outmaneuvered by quick ends. He does tend to hinge more than Walker, and this lets faster ends Speed Rush him around the corner.  Some of this, in our opinion, is due to his conditioning. Remove the spare tire from his belly and I think he'd see more in foot quickness. Possibly enough to move his grade from a late round pick to a midrounder.

The other problem, and likewise correctable, is his pad level. Hairston doesn't get low enough. Punches drive him backwards too easily because of this problem. Without going into the details of pass blocking here, we can only say that the low man wins and when youre stood up by faster ends they can get around you much easier.

Interior linemen are less about pass protection, but of all that stand out, its McClain that gets whipped the most often because he stops moving his feet and loses leverage. His footwork is terribly sloppy, and at times he just looks totally confused. Smith suffers the same problem to a lesser extent, but usually when you see a guy blowing through the backfield its because McClain got beat inside (See Boston College).

Overall I think Brad has done a good enough job when it comes to pass blocking during his time here.

Run Blocking

Probably the most subjective evaluation of any position on the field is the ability to run block. Brad Scott says a grade of "75% is winning football". Thats a direct quote from Brad early last season. Thats awful, 75% = 7-5/8-4 seasons. In our opinion, the grade for winning football should be at least 85%. Bear in mind this score usually counts run + pass plays, but since we've evaluated the pass blocking as generally very good, the bulk of the missed assignments are coming in run blocking.

What I generally saw on the front was the left side moving someone and the right side not, particularly Landon Walker. Landon took McClain's spot on the shit list this season for being blown up by more Ends and not moving people at all whatsoever in run blocking. Usually when you saw the right side not moving people, it was because Walker stood up and lost pad level. I found it laughable when Walker responded to a TI interview boasting of the right side's ability to run block. We could probably count on two hands the number of times Walker has successfully hooked a DE on a reach block this year. This issue was prevalent last year as well.

McClain can absolutely maul people, when he's motivated to do so. Usually he is not, and takes bad angles, then he whiffs an assignment. McClain did substantially improve in the latter this season compared to 2009.  Dalton Freeman, in general, is a good blocker, but when he takes bad angles it gets him beaten soundly. Mason and David both take bad angles at times as well but they certainly execute better than the right side. Unfortunately, most gap scheme run plays go to the right side (strongside) of the formation. Inside Zones can usually go anywhere inside.

Since 2006, when injuries cost us our best against Virginia Tech, we have not zone blocked consistently well at all. One game will look great, and the next will be total garbage. The kicker is that zone plays are a base component of our offense and essentially all spread offenses. It does not matter if its a 2 point or 3 point stance when guys don't know where to go. Shotgun runs and most single-back sets run zones. Brad has never excelled here at teaching and repping zone block schemes. Dan Pearman's addition has not improved this.


We said before that no member of the offensive staff deserved retention, and we hold to that. Both Scott and Pearman should be fired. Brad Scott using his contacts in South Florida once every 10 years doesn't make up for years of doing less with more on the line. Pearman's Tight Ends and recruiting don't make a great case for his retention either. Dwayne Allen can't be persuaded to give full effort on the field to maximize his talent potential, and none of the others have been developed to get any snaps.

As long as Dabo is here, Pearman will be. Their wives are best friends. Moving Pearman off the OL makes good sense. He wasn't helping as much as intended. If he was excellent there, he'd have been given the entire OL. He worked under Frank Beamer on Special Teams, and I think he knows what he's doing with the TEs. We support that change.

I think it behooves Dabo Swinney and Jeff Scott to reassign Pearman's areas in-state and beyond in recruiting. The weakest recruiters should not be given better areas.

We can't express how excited we are to have Robbie Caldwell take over the offensive front. Moving Brad to an administrative role was his own decision, and Dabo/Brad made the correct choice to bring in Caldwell. At one time Brad Scott may have excelled at recruiting, but that time is long ago. He didn't have the passion or the drive to really improve his Line and didn't put forth the effort in recruiting every year.

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