Well that was just fantastic wasn't it? I could point to several reasons why Clemson did not win this game and has not won the last 4 years, but the primary reason is the one that matters and overshadows all the rest: We were dominated at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. Big games are almost invariably decided up front, and our 5 sissy OL got their asses handed to them, and our starting DL got pushed around. That's it. Four years ago SC hired Fitzgerald to oversee S&C, and 4 years ago they started pushing Clemson around up front. Now even without him, they've retained his core lifting philosophy (he's now at Penn State) and it has still worked against us.
Everything else is going to be exacerbated by that reason. Secondary sucks? Yes, its the worst Clemson product I've ever seen, but they'd look a little better if there was any pass rush from the down four. Linebackers not making plays? They need help from the linemen in front of them.
As I try to put some less ambiguous reasons why we lost down, I cannot get away from the S&C problem, so lets just assume its understood and accepted as a factor in all of them.
FIrst, Clemson's offensive gameplan sucked. No you idiot it doesn't mean we should fire Chad. It means he didn't make adjustments that needed to be made schematically to alleviate the issues we saw on the field. Clemson ran the ball all over SC in the first half, 110+ yards as I recall, and where was the commitment to continue it? We gashed them early, and then there was a drive where the SC defense stood up, and I wasn't seeing the same commitment to running Andre Ellington after that. If your QB is getting nailed because your OL sucks at pass protection, you run the football and use some misdirection. I would be the first to admit that using misdirection on a good defense could get you killed, but very few college defenses are going to be so disciplined as to not be susceptible to it. Even the Zone read beat Clowney several times tonight, as I expected it might because if you can't block a guy, you option him, but I never saw the commitment to it.
Tajh Boyd stunk, say it for what it is. It was pure shit. Brandon Thomas got his ass beat. Gifford Timothy got his ass beat. You knew they would be raped coming into this, so why didn't we keep a TE on the line and go max-protect? Why didn't you chip Clowney on every single play? If you're going to slide the protection, you still need to block the guy on the backside of the slide, so why leave someone like Taylor unblocked when you slide to Clowney? We have a fuckton of TEs on the roster, and why weren't they in there helping double the DEs? Far too often we were blocking 4 with 5, and we're not good enough up front to do that.
I also question why, if The Chad forces certain things by design in games, we didn't force the ball to Sammy's hands or Nuk's? A quick slant won't work? A fly sweep handoff can't be called? Why did we run Flanker Screens 25 times the last two weeks and not run ONE tonight?
Maybe you think they're jumping underneath routes? Well then the intermediates and deeps should get open. If you chip the DE or double him, then you have time to hit those. But I didn't see them jumping the underneath routes. I saw Tajh mostly looking downfield, deep downfield.
We've seen it time and again, if you get Tajh a few easy completions, run the ball a couple times, and run him once or twice, he wakes up and starts hitting deep balls. After those first few drives, I thought we were just looking at deep balls and hoping to blow it open early. The pass rush wasn't going to allow that to happen.
What we ultimately saw tonight was what scared me about this team, any offense will eventually have an "off" night. When that night happens, you better have a defense. We don't. Our defensive statistics will benefit from playing in the gloriously shitty ACC, but it is still the worst Clemson defense I have ever seen put on the field. Since midseason last year, we've been absolutely dreadful. We just happen to play some weakass teams that makes us look better.
This year we've done better about not letting 2nd and 3rd string QBs look like John Elway, or 3rd and 4th string RBs look like Walter Payton, but we did it tonight. Dylan Thompson should not be running rampant through the Clemson defense or carving it up like a turkey with his arm.
As much credit as I give Dan Brooks for improving the front this year, and yes we did improve quite a bit with those youngsters, they still are not up to par. The DE play has slightly improved, maybe from "shitballs" to "ass-ugly" but aside from Beasley are you confident in any great talent up there? I'm not. Clemson needs to recruit talent on the DL badly. We may not get the most out of them until a S&C change is made, but we need them on campus first. You need pressure from the down 4 to help the back 7. We blitzed heavily and left the flat zone open all night. I can't fault Venables so much for that because Thompson was kicking their ass, but it would've helped to get sacks with 3 or 4 rushers instead of seeing 2-3 more LBs rush and STILL NOT TOUCH HIM.
Our secondary has not improved. Its terrible. Its the worst I can say I've seen Clemson football ever put on the field. Our safeties don't help the Corners. No one reacts to the flats. SC didn't beat us with Justice Cunningham, they just dinked and dunked outside to the flat all day and we can't take the proper angle or even get there to defend the pass. I'd fire Charlie Harbison tomorrow morning. I'd have fired Joey Batson over a year ago. Dabo is here whether you or I like it or not. Even the Board members who are pissed will not fire him after another 10 win season.
Is there hope for either? Well Harbison and Dabo are friends, and Dabo has sworn all day long that Batson is the greatest ever. He even has the players say so to TI and other beat writers in articles. They brought in Paul Hogan to oversee OL training and I see the same product. I see DBs who cannot jam. Defenders who can't get off blocks and WRs that can't lay somebody out on a screen. I don't know what change will get made or if any will. I will however predict that if Batson is here next year, that Clemson will lose a 5th in Columbia. That would be the first time I ever predicted us to lose a football game to those sumbitches.
If you want changes made, I suggest you start calling/emailing those Board members.