Wow, this is a fantastic weekend for the professional game. I am not sure Roger could have set this up any better. We have two NFC teams who hate each other and Peyton vs. Tom once again. I'll discuss this action later on, first I'll hit my opinions on all things Clemson.
The Clemson basketball team is on a roll. I'll admit I saw just a bit of the Duke game and the latter parts of the VPI game, so my recent POV plus my amateur basketball knowledge should be taken as an "it is what it is" view. Clemson is a defensive team. Clemson benefits when the officials let them play. As far as the Duke game goes, Clemson definitely benefited from playing at home. The ability to hold Duke at bay late in the game combined with Clemson's ability to convert key possessions into points turned that game into a big, big victory. At VPI, we were able to do the same. Clemson played hard until the end and was able to convert free throws to seal the game. Brad Brownell deserves all the credit he is getting. Clemson (especially without a home while Littlejohn is being renovated) means he is going to have even more issues recruiting. Clemson will have to play good, solid defense and try to win low scoring games. If we can get a guy like Blossomgame to go nuts, that helps a lot too. We all know McDaniels is very gifted and have all seen him jump out of the arena. He has been a cornerstone of this team and we'll need more of that as we move forward. I won't lie, Clemson is playing better than I expected and North Carolina is struggling right now. Could this be the year? As an aside, I am away from the internet this weekend so I cheated and wrote this prior to the Wake game. Hence, nothing from Saturday's game is incorporated here today.
We are looking back at the Clemson '13 football season right now. I'll say that the defensive improvement is impressive and those guys definitely won a couple games for the Tigers last year. With Vic Beasley and the rest of the front seven back next year, you must assume that this will be the strength of '14's team. Safety play along with reloading wide receivers / replacing Boyd will be high on everyone's concern list going into next season. I have already given my opinion on how we can improve, so I won't bore you with discussions about S&C and such. Assuming Chad Morris is back next year, we should still be able to win a lot of games considering the schedule. Obviously I would like a better understanding of the progression once The Chad leaves (he has repeatedly stated that there are coaches in Texas High Schools who are as good as he is and that is the place to pull your talent) because I fear we'll simply push Jeff Scott up the ladder. That would negatively impact recruiting and would involve breaking in a coordinator with little experience there (though, to Scott's credit, he has been in the coaching game for some time and is good organizing recruiting items).
Major League Baseball decided to implement replay this season. I am a bit torn, as I like the fact that the game is subjective in some spots (balls and strikes, is a good example though thankfully those items will not be reviewable). I also like the interaction between the umpires and the managers. I hope that some of these items are not removed from the game. On the flip side, a pitcher losing a perfect game in the 9th because the umpire completely blows a call seems extremely unfair. I'll see how the process works (and if/how it impacts the flow of the game) this spring before coming to a definitive opinion on replay.
This weekend's slate of football games couldn't have worked out better for the League. The 49ers and Seahawks hate each other and--best of all--both play defense and hit hard. I like watching these teams play for that reason. The game is in Seattle, which is a huge advantage for the Seahawks. Kaepernick is fixing whatever slump problems he went through earlier this season and is rolling. Seattle has been rolling all year. Their defense is just sick. On that note, I heard yesterday that Pete Carroll attempted to implement a lot of this stuff at USC but his schemes were simply too complicated to implement at the college level (limits on player development along with time that players can spend on football related items). These items were implemented in Seattle with the right group of players and, well, you've seen the results this season. I don't now enough about Carroll's schemes to discuss which items he was able to implement or not implement but thought that was an interesting point to make regarding collegiate play/scheme/strategy vs. the pros.
Peyton Manning vs. Tom Brady is a matchup Roger would like to play at least once on Sunday/Monday night during the season and definitely during the playoffs every year. You know he was all fired up when he realized that these two teams would be the #1 and #2 seeds. I have already highlighted Belichick's brilliance and Manning's ability to implement what appears to be the entire playbook at anytime through an audible, so I won't rehash those takes. I'll only look forward to the matchups and see how it goes.
That's all I have this week. Recruiting will heat up to a blistering temperature very soon with a crescendo on NSD, and we'll follow that as well. Now that we know who will be back next season, we have a better view of what this team will look like from Spring through Camp and can give opinionated assessments accordingly and will probably have a take or two on the upcoming NFL Draft (i.e., will ESPN / Roger go all Brent Musberger and invite AJ McCarron to the greenroom just so they can install an "AJ McCarron Mom / Girlfriend" camera? Will Johnny Manziel stroll up to the podium slamming Scotch smoking a cigar? And, of more interest locally, where will the Clemson crew emerge and how bad of a decision was it for Bryant / Breeland to leave early? As always, it will be exciting and, of course, debatable.