MIAMI GARDENS, FL - JANUARY 04: Head coach Dabo Swinney of the Clemson Tigers walks off of the field dejected after they lost to the West Virginia Mountaineers 70-33 during the Discover Orange Bowl at Sun Life Stadium on January 4, 2012 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
What we saw this season was an effort ole Tom Bowden would stand and applaud. Big wins, big losses, then finally break through to win an ACC Title only to polish off the year by getting steam rolled on national television. Somewhere out there, Bowden is thinking, "Man, those guys took my philosophy to the next level--all while getting pay raises along the way from TDP."
Then there is the Sweatshirt, our current head football coach. You hear Coach Dabo raising hell about "All In" and how nobody wants it more and blah, blah, blah, blah. Maybe the Sweatshirt ought to make sure his own players are "All In" before he lectures the alumni, donors, and supporters of this football program that pay his salary. Everyone has already seen this, but I'll quote it once again to restate this unacceptable garbage (from WV Illustrated):
The support for the Tigers had dwindled, and with it, the ACC champion had lost all confidence in itself. Sometimes you can look at a team and see that it has given up, but according to players on WVU's defense, Clemson took it one step further.
"There was like linemen out there talking about, ‘Good job, man, stop going so hard. Y'all got it.' I was like, all right," says senior cornerback Keith Tandy. "I never heard anything like that and they just made us want to go harder and keep making plays."
This isn't the first time opposing players have said the same. I am sure if we ran down some Georgia Tech and NC State players we'd hear the same.
That sounds like "All In" to me. That sounds like a football team that is tough enough to fight adversity. That sounds like a football team that refuses to quit...Oh wait, they did quit in the face of adversity. On top of simply quitting, they told their opponent they quit. But I guess that is what "All In" is about.
Per Coach Dabo following the ACCCG:
This is what it's all about. You don't quit. There are so many quitters out there. All these people that quit on us, they don't deserve this. This is for the players and the coaches and for all the people who were all-in all the frickin' time. I'm proud of those people. That's what this one's for.
I guess that the ACC Championship wasn't won for those players because they clearly gave up a number of times this season. These aren't our specifications and expectations; they came from the Sweatshirt himself following the ACCCG. So, Dabs, before you go out and lecture the fans, media, alumni, and all the other people who throw their energy and money into this program, you'd better give this speech to your own team.
I want everyone out there to remember this during the IPTAY state tour. They ask you for your money so you should be able to ask them uncensored questions. You should get your chance to ask the Sweatshirt about his soft football team. You should get to ask him why his guys quit on your university. You should get this chance, but unfortunately you really won't. "Coach" Don Munson will be present, filtering real questions so that you rogue Clemson fans won't get out of line. That is a freaking joke isn't it? These guys come to solicit cash for your university, then censor the supporters who show up and clearly care about the state of affairs in Pickens County. Coach Dabo will address critical questions like "How heavy is the ACC Championship trophy?" and "Did you eat a lot of oranges on the ride down to Miami?" Swinney and this university owe you answers to these issues because make no mistake about it, last Wednesday's game was a thorough embarrassment to your university and someone has to be held accountable for such a piss poor showing on national television.
The game specifically following the 1st quarter was a joke. The overall game from a Clemson defensive perspective was a complete failure. Clemson pressed following the goalline fumble and WVU made our Tigers pay. Clemson opened the game moving the ball fluidly against a very questionable Mountaineer defense. The big factor for the Clemson offense early was the running game. Ellington broke them off with several big runs and kept the WVU defense honest. Then Clemson fell behind and seemed to give up on the running portion of their attack. This allowed the opposition to sit back and force Tajh to pick them apart and Boyd is simply not a quarterback who is able to pick apart a defense at this point in his development. Tajh makes presnap reads then goes through his progression, often locking onto a receiver, which he did Wednesday even early. And early, Clemson's more balanced attack combined with athleticism on the perimeter allowed this team to move the football.
As WVU began to drop seven/eight men as Clemson showed no intentions of running the football, Tajh struggled mightily. We saw it several times this year, particularly against NCST. They dropped 6-8 players and dared Boyd to throw the football. It did not help that WVU was able to get pressure with just three pass rushers at times, but that is what happens when you have to press to keep up with the opponent-especially an opponent that drops 70 on our candy ass.
There lies the other side of the coin. Kevin Steele's defense has been pathetic against all things non-Virginia Tech this season. If they don't see a pro style attack they simply have not produced. I am not sure how this defensive staff had a month to prepare for the OB and this is the result. West Virginia showed us nothing that was new. They ran that little end around to Austin, some inside zone plays, the stick routes and the items that we pointed out here at STS prior to the game. If it is this obvious how another team will attack you, our defense shouldn't give up such ridiculous numbers.
I am not sure what the deal with Steele is. He clearly is a good coach (just look at his resume and listen to his peers, we know he can coach) but his defense was hot garbage for the majority of this season. We do blame S&C along with overall practice philosophy for some of these issues, particularly the shoddy tackling we have come accustomed to. However, his linebackers are the worst functional group on the defense. They look lost and a step behind all the time. It was evident watching them bite on play action only to allow a huge play behind them. I believe, like most, that Steele's scheme must be too complex for these guys because (A) they look confused all the time (B) they spend most of the presnap yelling at each other (C) they are always a step behind where they should be which leads to (D) they are having to think way too much in order to try to achieve their goal. Clemson simplified its offense this season (and mid 2009) and reaped wonderful rewards. I urge the Tigers to do the same this offseason on defense.
We repeatedly point out that there is a strength and conditioning problem that requires a major overhaul in the upstate. Clemson got mauled up front against an offensive line that was unimpressive in Big East play. We simply do not have the functional strength preparation necessary, period. Without change, you will continue to see us get pushed around by mediocre lines and demolished by good lines. It is critical, as we are very young up front on both sides of the football moving forward, to build functional strength as most of these young players were, as the coaches stated, simply not ready for the college game in '11.
In some positive news, Clemson played well yesterday in a big win over the Seminoles. We are desperately hoping that this team can shake off the poor December and gain some momentum moving into conference play.