Anyone not wanting to dirty their mind's is invited to stop reading.
Are fumbles contagious? Do you get infected with fumble-itis that much naturally take its course? Swinney apparently thinks that is the case in football.
The biggest issue I have with us on offense is the turnovers. This time last year we had one fumble this year we have eight. Its like a virus, its kind of got to run its course and hopefully it is through us, the fumbles have been a problem. It's just one of those things. We work on it. Some of it has been poor fundamentals. You know Tajh just had a busted play in the Florida State game, didn't see the guy. Sammy is fighting for yards in a pile and has good ball security and their guy just does a good job, rips it out. It's one of those deals. Again, my experience has been that it's contagious. Hopefully we can get through that. Our defense has been better in every area though. And that's why we are 7-1.
That's how we've been able to overcome those turnovers. That's the goal for us, we have to clean up some things. People always want to focus on the negative but we are doing a lot of good things. There are a lot of good things happening with this team. We always want to get better. Nobody's perfect.
So this is actually a legit question. What causes an uncharacteristic shift in the amount of fumbles during a season. Last year, as Swinney rightly pointed out, Clemson hardly fumbled at all. After the Orange Bowl debacle that saw a goaline fumble swing the momentum wildly towards West Virginia at the end of the first half, the staff made ball security a constant point of emphasis last year. New boxing gloves were used to poke at balls and innovative drills were invented by the staff. So why the change?
You could easily say that it is talent with Ellington being gone and increased workload for more upright runners like Brooks, Howard and to a lesser degree McDowell. An increase in running back attempts might mean that this group is regressing back to their mean after starting the season overachieving by not fumbling much.
This would support Dabo's claim that this will just pass. That every team and running back has a certain number of inevitable fumbles that just come over the course of the season. That this is just football, somehow.
I think that the fumbling, in this particular case, is all about being less physical in practice. To a lesser degree you could pair that with poor interior offensive line play and guys coming free on blitzes. You have more physical punishment and harder hits on running backs. But I still think that a lack of physicality in practice is the main culprit--it certainly isn't just a virus. Physicality often brings closer attention to detail.
One person that was infected this week was Chad Morris.
After you look at last week and being able to run the football for 235 yards, you have to say they are getting better without a doubt
Who are you and what have you done with The Chad. This infected Morris continues:
Giff played the majority of the game and played well. He did some good things. David Beasley, he and Kalon, did some good things. I don’t know the snap count. But when you rush for 200 something yards, you are doing something good. You hope that you are getting close. We have guys we’re getting comfortable with and they are getting better. I know Shaq has gotten better the last couple of weeks in some of his run blocking. But we obviously want to get those guys in there and continue running the football. I think that is as key as anything right now, helping Tajh. You know, just taking all the pressure off him.
I could be very wrong about this but my translation of this is, "Coach Swinney wanted me to be more positive this week." I saw an interior line that was regressing and getting stood up. I saw a line that got zero or negative push in the middle and running backs having to cut back because they just ran into the stood up back on their lineman. I saw a center and QB unable to call the right protections and lineman getting tangled and beat by running backs as they try to pull.
On the offensive line play, Swinney is more optimistic than most (again, he wants to paint a rosy picture and that is fine).
I know sometimes people like to say certain things. I know what we have on this football team and I know what we have done good and what we have done bad. And our offensive line has not been great, but none of us have been great. But they have done very well, you aren't one of the best offenses in the country, which we are, without having some guys do some good things upfront. Sometimes they get a little too much blame.
Maybe they do get too much blame but things aren't as great as Swinney is trying to portray (and of course Swinney knows this himself) because it finally sounds like the Battle plans are coming to fruition. Everyone who participates in the Devil's Playground (otherwise known as STS) realizes that the best offensive line right now starts Isiah Battle at Left Tackle and shifts Brandon Thomas to Right Tackle. Battle is just plain lazy in practice however (so is Jordan Leggett too by his own admission) but is starting to make things click like Vic Beastly.
I’m very encouraged by what I have seen out of him (speaking of Battle). I’m very pleased with where he is. He is coming. He is coming. I put him in the category of Vic Beasley last year. You know? You can just see it. The light is starting to come on and he is starting to like it a little bit. He is starting to see the big picture. Hopefully, we will have the same type of result that we had with Vic.
This doesn't mean that he is going to start but he will see more playing time. I think this is another motivational tool to let Battle know that if he performs and shows it on the practice field that he will be rewarded. This way the coaching staff can also save face when they play a lazy player (it is a delicate balance). At this point in the season though with the debacle at right tackle it must be done.
Why were we pooch kicking the ball? Our special teams coaching just makes me scratch my head sometimes. Hope you had a happy and safe Halloween (and yes, per the title, I dressed up as a fox).