The Clemson Tigers offense maintained its high level of performance again this past Saturday, despite the absence of Sammy Watkins for the 3rd time in 5 games this season. DeAndre 'Nuk' Hopkins picked up the slack and once again showed that he is one of the more explosive receivers in college football with another outstanding effort against BC.
|Category||Top 25 Goal||Top 15 Goal||BC||2012 Season|
|Red Zone TD%||66.7%||69.2%||71.0%||73.9%|
The only real negative for the offense was the 2 turnovers--clearly, averaging 2 turnovers per game is outside the Top 25 expectation. Worse than that though, is that the two turnovers Saturday came directly after the D had forced a BC turnover (a turnover on downs and then the Garry Peters interception)--for all the struggles the defense has had so far this year, the least the offense could do is put points on the board when they get them the ball and not give it right back to the opposition. Further, both could have resulted in the kind of momentum shift that has buried past Clemson teams on the road. Early in the 2nd quarter when the defense held on 4th down, BC was quite possibly looking at a 24-7 deficit that would have been very difficult to overcome, but Boyd gave them the ball right back (two bad decisions...the first was the bizarre play call and then Tajh's decision to throw into double coverage).
In the 4th quarter, the fumble gave BC a short field on the heels of the Peters pick. Up 14 points and with less than 6 minutes left in the game, that is the time when you want a long drive that ends in either a score or the clock hitting double zeroes. Minor in this game, but the type of miscue that could result in losses down the line against better competition.
Overall, despite the turnovers, Tajh Boyd had a very efficient game and ended with passer rating of 175.6. Clemson QB's have a combined passing efficiency of 157.09 on the season--24th highest in the country. The third down conversion and Red zone TD % rates continue to be stellar, as well. Over 60% on 3rd down against BC and now converting at a 50%+ clip on the season. The RZ TD % rate continues to be over 70%, well above the the Top 10 goal.
|Category||2012 Top 40||2012 Top 20||BC||2012|
On to the defense, where there were some bright spots on Saturday (finally!). At this point, level of competition doesn't even matter for this defense--we saw Furman and Ball State have success moving the ball, so any resistance out of this defense is a positive development.
Let's start with the best stat so far this year, despite the other struggles--3rd down conversions. The defense held BC to sub-30% on 3rd downs and the season number is now just over 30%. The only downside this past Saturday was the two 4th down conversions that were successful by BC...one of which led to a TD on the next play and the other which was a TD pass.
The defense held BC to 51 yards rushing--30 yards below their season average--on 28 carries, had two sacks and two interceptions. All very positive developments in the statistical realm, but, as importantly, you could start to see a little bit of confidence starting to show and that seemed to translate into some better play only giving up 10 2nd half points.
But, enough with the positives...there are still too many issues on the defensive side of the ball for sugar coating. This defense is still giving up way too many yards and way too many points--over 430 yards per game and 26 points a game. Further, with 44 pass attempts, the 2 sacks and the 2 interceptions is still below the per attempt expectations of 1 sack per 10 attempts and 1 interception per 15 attempts.
I don't expect many defensive categories to improve against GT--they are currently rushing for 329 yards a game and scoring 39 points a game. There is a reason the over/under on this game opened at 73.5 and has gone up a point on some boards from there! All signs point to a shootout in Death Valley on Saturday--it's a cliche, but it may apply here...last one with the ball might get the W.