Meeting Expectations: 2012 Tigers', mine, yours', Dr.B's

As a casual reader of the site – being mostly appreciative of the post-game play-by-play analyses - I couldn’t help but notice that there continues to be a fair amount of bluster about whether or not Dabo’s Tigers – and therefore Dabo himself - meet the expectations of the editors.

Note that on August 24th Dr. B posted a column entitled "What Are Reasonable Expectations for 2012". Make up your own mind as to whether or not the 2012 Tigers shaped up as I have highlighted Dr. B’s comments in bold and italics and posted those stats I could find for the season leading up to the bowl game ( is the originator of national stats, and the Clemson Athletic Dept. is the originator of Clemson’s stats).

I apologize if I have missed something somewhere …

"What is the most ‘reasonable’ set of expectations for Clemson in 2012? ...Before going further I’ll reiterate our standards for success

1. Win 10 games

2. Beat Sakerlina

3. Win the ACC Title

…and somehow manage not to have a "WTF" game like NC State or West Virginia where we get embarrassed again on a national stage or look like we haven’t practiced the game of football in a month.

I’m not expecting to win the ACC this season, but we have the best shot behind FSU, and it will probably come down to that game in Tallahassee.

….realistically we cannot expect Clemson to challenge for national championships every year, and we won’t this year.

If my expectation is that we will not win the ACC, then I may need to back off 10 games, but 10-3 does not look terribly unrealistic given the road schedule and our usual home success, plus a bowl game. It may be slightly optimistic, but not beyond reason.

A 4th straight loss to SC is not acceptable under any circumstance, and if Dabo hasn’t been taking them seriously before, then he better get with it now. I don’t see how he could survive 4 years of losing to SC here, unless we’re just whipping everyone else’s ass on the schedule.

…I do hope that… we do look like we’re getting better throughout the season. That is a big indicator of good coaching taking place."

So to summarize Dr. B'S ‘reasonable and achievable’ expectations for 2012:

1. 10 wins (including bowl)__________________________________Met - 1 better

2. Don’t have WTF game and/or get embarrassed on Nat’l TV____Met (unless you include USuCk)

3. Don’t win ACC because lose at FSU_________________________Met

4. Don’t challenge for National Championship_________________-------

5. Beat Sakerlina____________________________________________Failed

6. If lose Sakerlina, keep job by "whipping everyone’s ass"__Met

7. Get better throughout the season__________________________Met

One might say the team meets #6 primarily by setting an ACC record of wins over other ACC teams by 14 points or more (7 in a row) – all teams in the ACC but FSU were beaten by this margin of 14 or more, and only two of which were under 20 point margins.

Expectation #7 is hard to judge especially with the loss in the last game. If nothing else, the team progressed when it was most visible - from game 12 (UsuCk) to game 13 (CFA Bowl – LSU).

Thus the Team could be said to have met all but one expectation, losing to Sakerlina, and it was a difficult pill to swallow as well.

But Dr. B’s expectations did not include the possibility of a big-time bowl win against a Top 10 SEC team vaulting them to 11 wins. Not an even trade, but beating LSU has to be close….

In his column, Dr. B set out a few other specific goals as well…

"1. The backup RBs must do something in 2012… I still want Andre to get his 20 carries per game, and over 1000 yards this season... Right now, all eyes are on D.J. Howard."

Andre Ellington gained 1031 net yards, but did so with less than 20 carries a game – only 201 carries versus the 260 he would have gotten with Dr. B’s expectations of 20 per game. I’ll let the good Doctor continue his rant on The Chad’s apparent run phobia.

And though DJ Howard was dinged up much of the year, who could miss the progression in Hot Rod McDowell? He totaled 434 yards with 5 TD’s, had 5.6 ypc, and had a carry over 20 yards every 13 carries (AE was 1 every 22 carries).

"2. The OL has to at least be OK."

Sacks went from 30 in 2011 down to 26 in 2012. On a per pass basis it went down slightly from 1 per 15.98 attempts to 1 per 16.31 attempts. Surely Tajh’s mobility had something to do with this as well.

And even though we played 1 less game before the bowl in 2012 than 2011, total rushing yards went up from 2026 to 2325. Again, Tajh played a big part in this. RB/WR only net yards went from 1826 to 1811.

Tajh’s completion percentage went up as well – from 60% to 66% - an indication they were at least giving him time to look & throw or look & run. This also appears relevant in that it seemed less receiver screens were utilized in 2012 and Sammy Watkins was never completely a factor long term in 2012.

"3. Progression of the offense, will it expand or get better?"

"Last season we probably got in 70-75% of the playbook, and this year will likely be no different just because of the OL’s youth and inexperience. Last year the sack rate went from 26th to 86th nationally."

Again, this year the sack rate went slightly down, and we were tied for 75th nationally.

"Last season, Tajh Boyd completed 59.7% of passes with 12 INTs and 3800 yards passing. The yardage should go up along with the completion percentage and the INTs need to go down. Overall we finished with the 21st ranked passing offense and 36th in efficiency."

In 2012 we were ranked nationally 13th in passing offense (yards) and 4th in efficiency.

"If the OL were veterans, my hope would be for 4000 yards, 6-8 INTs, and over 63% completion. The offense would put up about 300yds passing per game. I doubt it gets there with this OL. The best I think I can hope for is to duplicate 2011. If we beat that we're golden."

We finished 2012 at 319.6 per game.

"In Spiller’s last year it was 170pg, 40th nationally. I think the goal should be to get there or higher, but again with this OL I’m not sure it will."

We finished at 198.8 per game (before bowl), and 34th nationally.

"The 2011 Tigers finished 24th in scoring offense, at 33ppg. I think Top 25 is again attainable given the weapons we have. Top 30 might be more realistic, which should still be over 30ppg. The goal though is to be Top 10-20. If the 2012 team finishes in the Top 20 offensively, we should be very happy considering the OL inexperience."

In 2012 we averaged 42.3 points per game, and finished ranked 6th nationally.

"4. The defense has to improve, and can’t get any worse."

"The killer for us last year was rushing defense, which allowed 176ypg (86th nationally)."</

In 2012 the rushing defense gave up 161 rushing ypg, ranking 67th nationally.

(In 2011)"Pass defense finished 50th, at 217ypg, in a run-oriented conference."

The 2012 defense gave up 250 passing ypg, ranking 81st nationally.

"I think the talent and coaching is here to hit Top 40 this season. I'm just not certain there has been enough time of on-field coaching to get them any higher. We should be able to knock a TD per game off the scoring defense, from 29ppg to about 21-22ppg."

In 2012 Clemson’s defense ranked 48th nationally by giving up 25 points per game.

"But that is not really the standard for good defense. Clemson defenses should be in the Top 20 every year. We have way more talent on defense than most of this schedule does offensively.

These are my own thoughts on what good defense looks like: On 3rd and short, I think we need to be 40% successful in every game. Hopefully 3rd and long will be 70% for the year."

Clemson ranked 27th nationally in 2012 in 3rd down defense, allowing the opponents’ offenses to convert on 34.7% of their overall 3rd downs. That means Clemson was ‘successful’ (in Dr. B’s terms) 65.3% of the time for all 3rd downs. He asked for 40% on 3rd/short and 70% for 3rd/long.

"Scoring defense on championship teams should be in the 14-15ppg."

Again, Clemson allowed 25 ppg and ranked 48th.

"Total defense should be under 300 yards allowed.

Only 8 teams nationally hit Dr.B’s target of allowing 300 ypg, and Clemson was at 411 ypg (73rd nationally). 6 teams in the ACC were ranked ahead of Clemson in this category.

"NO more plays over 25 yards allowed, and sacks should come up to 1 out of 10 attempts."

Sacks came at a rate of 14.43 attempts per sack (before bowl) in 2012.

"Interceptions should come at a lower rate, maybe 1 out of 15 attempts."

Interceptions were made only 1 out of every 33.7 opponent pass attempts.

"Even though I am not a stats guy, these numbers would indicate good defense is being played."

These opinions are not necessarily those of the Proprietors of Shakin' The Southland.

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