It's Summer (while the calender isn't quite there yet, the weather sure is) and, for the Clemson Tiger faithful, that means a couple months of down-time and anticipation of the upcoming football season. This Spring was an up and down period for Clemson athletics. We saw our baseball team get off to a terrible start, become one of the hottest teams in America, then choke against a good pitching UConn team in the Regionals. Golf had a solid but non-eventful session. Chad Morris and some other folks were brought in to improve the football staff. Meanwhile, our track athletes were assaulting each other with eyebrow razors and metal towel holders. The last action was a bit excessive when you consider we didn't score Fulmer Cup points in the process.
Football Staff/Philosophy Changes
We complained a lot about the offensive staff the past couple years. Fortunately, Dabo listened to our criticism and nearly gutted the offensive staff and upgraded with each change, though its more likely he was told to make changes from above. You know we are excited about Brad Scott moving to an admin role and Robby Caldwell filling his spot. I am disappointed that Caldwell won't get a shot at the media each week cause that guy is entertaining in front of a mic. Offensive Coordinator Chad Morris is implementing a much simpler, up-tempo "Wing-T on crack" offense for '11. I like the simplicity and I like the fact that Morris is putting the CU S&C program on notice. Joey Batson and crew will have to improve on their early-90's philosophies for football development or they won't last. Hopefully our offensive line will look less like a Jenny Craig convention and more like an athletic machine. One thing is for sure, they will be sorry if they show up for camp out of shape. Morris will run their asses off this fall if not sooner.
Morris is also more detailed oriented than past offensive coaches. He wants an offense simple enough for the players to completely understand. The chess game won't be pre-snap reads or read/react options, it will be through playcalling and formation adjustment. In years past, you had to be an astrophysicist to understand the offense. Even then, we didn't properly rep plays in practice and it showed in the games. Morris' playbook is extremely limited and he will assure that the core plays are emphasized in practice sessions.
Tony Elliott has made an impression on the recruiting trail already. Coaches around the Southeast have commented on Elliott's professional attitude and his advancement in spite of a limited background as a part of a major college football staff. This is a good sign for the RB position and the staff in general as we were less than impressed with Mr. Elliott's predecessor.
The guy we will be focusing on again this year is WR coach Jeff Scott. Mr. Scott has proven to be a pretty good recruiter, and we have taken notice of his successes there over the past couple years. We also recognize that Clemson's wide receivers have been pathetic over the past half-decade or so. This decline began when Rick Stockstill left to advance his career. Stockstill, a good recruiter and near-folk hero in SC, provided instruction and production not present with recent Clemson receiving groups.
My biggest concern is that Clemson will have, potentially, the most talented group of receivers in school history over the next couple seasons and these guys will not get the proper instruction to develop into elite players. If we see the same piss poor perimeter blocking and overall lackadaisical play as the last couple seasons, we will be presenting options for Clemson's future that do not involve Jeff Scott.
After last season's receiving debacle, my initial plan would have been be to move Swinney to a HC (figurehead)/Recruiting Coordinator (that would be the complete scope of the job) and go out and get a real WR or RB coach (I would assume Tony Elliott, a WR in his playing days, is apt to coach the receivers). We have repeatedly tossed around the idea of Woody McCorvey returning to the coaching realm and a reduced recruiting load may be enough to get him back in the game. Dabo to RC would ideally mean the following: recruiting would not lag (this is Dabo's specialty), wide receiver play would improve, and maybe Swinney would quit meddling in matters that he lacks expertise in (i.e., playcalling).
Clemson got the season off to a poor start but battled back after the disaster UNC series. Pitching again was the downfall to this Clemson season at the end, though they had a good season on the mound. We were not deep enough to withstand the UConn charge, especially when you look at the final game of the season. This choke job was particularly disappointing as the Tigers appeared to be peaking at just the right time and had UConn in a compromising situation early in the first of their two games.
I would like to take this moment to praise Brad Miller. He caught some grief last year because of his unpredictable play in the field. Mr. Miller's all-around play improved drastically and he deserves every award and bit of praise he receives, including being named ACC Player of the Year. He and Will Lamb were chosen in the 2nd round of this year's MLB draft, so I expect their days in a Clemson uniform are over. Lamb has already signed. Props to those guys as well as the current CU players and prospects that were taken earlier this month.
Allegedly, track athletes Craig and his GF were having some issues. I will only assume they were arguing about high jumping techniques or late-race sprint philosophies because those are the issues that typically put me over the edge. Allegedly, there was a laceration from a serrated eye razor and retaliation via a towel holder. All Clemson grads know this: C-House keeps it real from the mashed potatoes & gravy to the eye razors -- point is, don't eff around in the Clemson House. Long and short, Craig is suspended for summer workouts. Having JC on the team next year is important because Morris features Jet and Rocket sweeps through speedsters like him. Our receiving corps will be young in '11 and the loss of Craig would be a blow to the Clemson offense.