Hope everyone is safe after the floods and hurricane. I got stuck without power yesterday and most of today. I'll quickly summarize what I think are the main points from Dabo heading into the showdown with Duke.
Some player notes: Duke QB Sean Renfree has been medically cleared so I would expect he will play and play much better than he did against Florida State. He had the flu and a fever before the game and got knocked out with a concussion. On our side Bashaud Breeland is expected to play which should help our secondary. Duke schematically will try to confuse our secondary with formations and routes more than any other team we have played yet. They will put a lot of pressure on our Safeties to line up correctly and be in position. This is my greatest fear for this game. Desmond Scott, a converted RB to WR, is underrated and WR Connor Vernon is an All-ACC type receiver. Not a burner but in the mold of a savvy DeAndre Hopkins (but a notch or two below Nuk in hands and overall talent). This will be a good gauge of where our defense actually is.
On defense Duke will try to bring pressure and got burned over the top against FSU consistently. Will be interesting to see if they bring pressure against Clemson and leave our WR's in man coverage. We should abuse an improved CB Ross Cockrell (6) and especially DB Tony Foster (31).
Here is Dabo's summary of Duke:
They are very talented at wide receiver. Their offensive line is sound. They have given up some of the fewest sacks of anybody in the conference this week. We have to tackle well in space. These guys are good in space. They play with a fast tempo and their defense is playing well. They bring a lot of pressure. They are active up front and they play a lot of guys. They are confident in who they put on the field. They have a couple of really good defensive backs. They force you to make plays. They put you in situations and pick their spots with house blitz, cover-zero. That will be a key to this game. I'm impressed with this football team. They are dangerous in special teams. Their punter is averaging 44 yards per punt- leading the ACC.
Would love to see our punter get close to that average. Dabo deserves credit for the team not playing down to Wake and hopefully that will continue against Duke. We were horrid on the road last year and lost most of those games because, for whatever reason, we weren't mentally tough enough (although this is all pure subjective talk about 'toughness'). I do, however, find this stat from Dabo startling.
As I tell our guys all the time - it's about Clemson. Our focus. Our attention to details. This is our last road game and this is a great opportunity for us to finish strong. If we can win we will be 4-1 on the road for just the second time in 15 years. We talked coming into the season of taking another step about becoming a consistent winner. We need to put three, four and five consistent seasons together. This would be another positive step...That's what matters. We just try to focus on winning today and at the end of November hopefully we'll be a relevant football team from a national standpoint.
Only two times in 15 years?? That is not a national power and is a downright embarrassing statistic (Batson became head of S&C in 1997, I believe--coincidence??). Luckily, you have the Chad to give you the straight talk you want. I really think that Chad is helping Dabo improve not only his temperament but how he talks about the team. Dabo still is all about the sunny side but doesn't get as defensive about critical questions about the team like he did in the past.
This is Chad's take on the offensive line play.
I thought we played okay. I was disappointed we weren’t able to get the running game going. Yeah, they loaded the box, but so what? We took some pressure off the guys by throwing the ball. Even when they didn’t have extra hats in the box, we didn’t knock them off the ball like we need to, and we need to get that going. We are going to continue to work on it. There were some bright spots, but we need to knock them off the ball a little more. I am a typical coach, I want to line up and knock people off the ball three yards every play. You just wish you had some more competition to push those guys. To motivate a Brandon Thomas, to motivate a David Beasley. And we have Ryan Norton, who has come in and kind of given us that spark. But Ryan has to give us that spark at center and at right guard, but there really hasn’t been anybody at either tackle spot that has made a push. I think those guys would be a little bit more on edge if they knew their job was at stake every week.
Chad has gone away from the run too quickly but I think he sees man and zero coverage and just salivates and can't help himself. Duke runs a 4-2-5 and lots of zero and cover one so we will probably see the offense go away from the run again.
Lastly Dabo responded to the Steve 'look at me' Spurrier comments and showed why he has more class than Spurrier ever will.
Yes I heard it. It obviously doesn't take long in this world we live in. Look, people need to back off the ledge. Personally, I think he was trying to pay me a compliment. I know it was a round about way of doing it. It's like me telling my wife you don't look as fat in this dress. I think he was trying to pay me a compliment to use something I said to talk about one of his players. Again, prayers to Marcus Lattimore. I meant exactly what I said. He's a quality person. If anybody can come back, he will. I'm disappointed we won't get a chance to compete against him this year. I want to compete against the best.
Spurrier is kind of a media darling with his Free Shoes University and other jabs at rivals but this has to be the most awkward attempt at a backhanded compliment I have heard in awhile. Classless.
On a more positive note the practice facility could be ready to go by the end of the season, possibly in time for USC. Apparently the current practice fields are really beat up.