2013 Position Analysis: TEs / Special Teams with Danny Pearman

Tyler Smith

Danny Pearman is a coach that the average fan doesn't hear much about because his duties are largely specialized. Pearman is the tight ends coach and special teams coordinator for the Tigers. We often lump the tight ends in with the receivers because they are frequently flexed or with the offensive linemen when they are lined up near tackle. Because of this, most of the Pearman discussions are focused on recruiting and / or special teams play.

Pearman, as most know, is a Clemson alumnus. Danny played ball in Death Valley under the legendary Danny Ford from '85 through the 1987 season. You'll likely note that the '86 and '87 teams won the ACC and rolled in their respective bowl games. Following his playing days, DP stayed on at Clemson as a graduate assistant and attained an MBA through this process. Pearman spent the early/mid-‘90's at Alabama. There he was on a national championship winning staff and coached with Dabo Swinney-contributing to their lines and special teams. He left for VPI prior to the '98 season then had stints at UNC, Duke, and Maryland in successive years before joining the Clemson staff in '09. At each of those stops, his focus was offensive tackles, tight ends, and/or special teams. Pearman began his tenure here coaching the tackles and tight ends. You'll likely remember that Brad Scott needed help getting production out of the offensive line and the result was to bring in Pearman. Following Brad Scott's retirement (OL/inside lineman coach), Caldwell's hiring, and Andre Powell's firing (Special Teams coordinator), Pearman's duties shifted to the tight ends and coordinating special teams.

Items of interest for Pearman include

  • Recruiting
  • Tight End Play
  • Special Teams

Recruiting

We've often lamented about the job that Pearman has done on the recruiting trail while at Clemson. He has been responsible for a critical area that includes the mid-Atlantic Region, the Pee Dee, South Georgia, and Charlotte (his hometown). If you've followed our recruiting coverage and general commentary you are aware that we are not impressed with Pearman's social media skills and have been generally unimpressed with his overall recruiting. This year partially bucks the trend pulling Adam Choice and having his name associated with Rivals 4 Star TE Milan Richard (though Jeff Scott and The Chad certainly helped with the heavy lifting there here as well). This contrasts his efforts in Charlotte where he was completely unsuccessful yet again. A major city within Clemson's footprint and we hardly get any good players from the area. At some point you have to get a guy into the Queen City who can pull that talent because so far Pearman has been unsuccessful.

If you are wondering, here are the signees we've credited him with since his arrival at Clemson:

NAME

Position

Hometown

Ht/Wt/40

Rivals Rating

Assigned Recruiter(s)

Class

Adam Choice

RB

Thomasville, GA

5'9"/190/4.5

4 stars

Danny Pearman

2014

Milan Richard

TE

Savannah, GA

6'2"/233

4 stars

Jeff Scott, Danny Pearman, Chad Morris

2014

Alex Spence

K

Florence, SC

6'2"/190

3 stars

Danny Pearman

2014

Maverick Morris

OL

Douglas, GA

6'5"/290

3 stars

Danny Pearman, Chad Morris

2013

Isaiah Battle

OL

Fork Union, VA

6'7"/265

4 stars

Andre Powell, Danny Pearman

2012

Kevin Dodd

DT

Chatham, VA

6'5"/277

4 stars

Andre Powell, Jeff Scott, Danny Pearman

2012

Germone Hopper

WR

Charlotte, NC

6'0"/165/4.5

4 stars

Danny Pearman

2012

Bradley Pinion

K

Concord, NC

6'5"/220

3 stars

Dan Brooks, Danny Pearman

2012

Isaiah Battle

OL

St George, VA

6'7"/260/4.9

3 stars

Danny Pearman

2011

Jerome Maybank

DT

Pawley's Island, SC

6'4"/335/NA

2 stars

Danny Pearman (Brooks offer)

2011

Morgan Roberts

QB

Charlotte, NC

6'4"/208/4.7

3 stars

Danny Pearman

2011

Colton Walls

LB

Charlotte, NC

6'1"/215/NA

2 stars

Danny Pearman (Dabo offer)

2011

Josh Watson

DT

Chatham, VA

6'3"/285/NA

4 stars

Danny Pearman

2010

Tajh Boyd

QB

Hampton, VA

6'1"/208/4.7

4 stars

Danny Pearman, Billy Napier

2009


Tight Ends

The Clemson offense has enjoyed a string of good tight ends. First it was Michael Palmer, then Dwayne Allen, and finally Brandon Ford. With Ford's departure following the ‘12 season, the Clemson offense essentially started from the ground up in '13 at the tight end spot. Sure there were players who were returning but there were no clear athletes that could step in with all-around play close to any of the three above-though it is unrealistic to believe that an Allen or Palmer will be in the starting lineup each and every year.

Clemson's TE participation can be seen below.

#

Player

Position

Total Snaps

2013 G-S

86

Sam Cooper

TE

384

12-3

16

Jordan Leggett

TE

166

10-1

46

Collins Mauldin

TE

1

2-0

89

Jay Jay McCullough

TE

65

9-0

81

Stanton Seckinger

TE

394

13-10

Clemson used Cooper, Leggett, and Seckinger extensively and sprinkled in McCullough in blowout situations in ‘13. None of these guys were as good as their predecessors-particularly when you look at the blocking aspect. It seemed like week in and week out we were screaming about the inadequacy of Seckinger's blocking. Frankly, he sucks at it. We absolutely cannot have our tight end -- flexed out or not -- whiff on these efforts. He cannot come across the line and completely miss his assignment on the edge. That stuff kills plays before they even have a chance. It gets his QB killed. Both he and Cooper really need to improve in this area because it is essential to the success of this offense. I'd also like to see Seckinger put on a little more weight again this offseason. I realize he came to Clemson as a lanky receiver but it is critical to get another 10 good pounds on to be a bit more forceful as a TE.

The passing numbers played out as follows:

NAME

REC

YDS

AVG

LONG

TD

Stanton Seckinger

21

244

11.6

24 (TD)

4

Jordan Leggett

12

176

14.7

44

2

Sam Cooper

6

50

8.3

13

1

Jay Jay McCullough

4

17

4.3

6

0

Totals

43

487

11.3

44

7

It is pretty clear that Seckinger was the main tight end target over the course of the year. Using him as a receiver makes sense as he was converted to the TE spot from WR several years ago. I am a little surprised to see only six catches beside Sam Cooper's name, half that of Jordan Leggett (though Leggett got most of his playing time in lesser games). Sam just doesn't have great hands, but we felt his forte would be line blocking with the ability to sneak out and be a threat, but he wasn't able to do either. He gets a bit of a pass for the injury and working hard to come back (probably sooner than he should've, but this is expected in the Larry Bowman school of medicine), but with half the snap total he really should've been able to put up better numbers and blocks. I really don't have too many qualms with the TEs as receivers other than they absolutely have to hold onto the football when it comes their way. They are nearly always in traffic.

In the future, we think this spot is Leggett's to lose, as he clearly has the talent beyond the others. He has yet to put in the effort or we think you'd have seen him starting. By his own admission, he is lazy. He's lazy in practice and it shows in games, but he's got the makings of a good receiving TE. If he really puts his nose in the playbook and works on his blocking, he'll take this spot full time. It won't happen before then.

When compared to previous seasons, this year's squad had reduced production. This should be no surprise and we expected it in the preseason. The wide receiver personnel were better than any in Clemson history and the Tight Ends were unproven. Who do you think The Chad and Tajh are going to be more comfortable giving looks towards? Here is how 2013 totals compared to years past:

YEAR

REC

YDS

AVG

LONG

TD

2009

55

621

11

26

8

2010

45

465

10

47

4

2011

65

782

12

54

10

2012

54

608

11

69

11

2013

43

487

11

44

7

It is clear that production peaked with Dwayne Allen and crew back in '11. Last year's group saw a drop in receptions and yards but was able to contribute with 11 touchdowns. The numbers, again as expected, fell across the board in '13.

Overall, I was really not too surprised with the output from this unit. Looking at the personnel, blocking was a big concern early on, especially with a former WR lining up in this role. The Clemson offense was keen on getting the ball to their fantastic receivers and, without a big-time player in the TE role, the receivers saw their opportunities increase at the expense of the tight ends. I will say that these guys did contribute in the passing game. The big ones that stand out to me include the Seckinger touchdown towards the end of the UGa game and the final score against Ohio State. On the flip side, momentum was stalled early in the FSU game following a 1st play fumble.

I believe that Jordan Leggett will push both Cooper and Seckinger this Spring / Fall. We've already said we think he'll take the starting role if he puts maximum effort in, so saying he'll take snaps from the more veteran players is not surprising. I am not really sure what to expect out of Jay Jay next year. He doesn't seem to have a secure home. However, we have discussed his utilization in the H-Back role. We saw some use of him in the backfield last year so maybe he'll be used in more situations that feature another back or where he is shifted into the H-back role next year. I suspect he'll need a good spring as Cooper/Seckinger/Leggett already play a lot more than him and there are two good TE recruits who will be on campus ready to press the incumbents, though we expect Richard/Smith to RS.

Special Teams

Clemson Special Teams really didn't ping the radar either way this season (which is generally a good thing). The Tigers seemed to improve in areas of kick-coverage. Clemson allowed 5.44 yards per punt return and 19.44 yards per kickoff return. These were good for a national rank of 31st and 25th, respectively and neither group gave up a touchdown on the season. In the case of punting, this gave the Tigers a net average of 37.7 yards per punt with one touchback. The net punt average ranks 43rd nationally. This surprised us with Pinion's leg, but something happened and we haven't been told what that was. He was booming 50 yarders and they suddenly dropped off. You'll recall the 2012 effort in both areas was piss poor as we could not properly run lanes-especially defending kickoffs. It was good to not have to hold your breath every time we kicked the football.

We saw continued mediocrity / poor results in return areas. This is slightly confusing to me given the large amount of skill talent on this team. This struggle is apparent when you look at the core numbers from last season:


Net Yards/Att

TDs

Ntl. Rank

Punt

8.34

0

58

Kickoff

18.79

0

105

I can understand the logic behind saying that teams intentionally kicked the ball through the endzone to defend against Clemson's extreme talent or that Clemson chooses not to typically return punts because its offense is so potent that they don't want to risk doing something stupid. Even so, I'd certainly expect a better kick return average and could tolerate the conservative effort from the punt return team. These numbers certainly won't kill your football team but they don't do you any favors either...unless your conservative punt return strategy results in very few turnovers.

This was not the case in the regular-season finale. Punt return errors (both miscommunication resulting in a turnover and a returner putting the ball on the ground for another giveaway) were a big cause for failure down in Columbia last November. Adam Humphries is catching punts because Pearman and staff are comfortable that he will secure the ball. That means he should be told to either fair-catch or let the ball fly over his head. If the staff wants to get risky, put Sammy back there and see what happens. We saw him fumble against Georgia but we've also seen him blow up kick coverage efforts during his freshman year.

Catman had another solid season converting 13/14 field goals. His only blemish was a missed extra point halfway through the Orange Bowl, leaving him 60/61 in PATs and 99 total points on the year. Back in 2010 everyone (including yours truly) piled on Catanzaro after a rocky freshman season. Swinney stuck by him (citing his excellent practice performance) and Catman leaves Clemson as one of the most reliable kickers-probably most reliable-since the days of Gardocki and Treadwell. This was especially true his final two seasons.

The overall view of 2013 special teams at Clemson was that of mediocrity sans the field goal unit. Clemson improved defending returns but were poor returning the ball. Turnovers by the punt team were a significant contributor to the failure in Columbia.

Overall

Pearman is a good tight ends coach. There was a drop-off in tight end play but personnel were the cause of that decline and we all saw this coming into the '13 campaign. Next year I believe you'll see Leggett press for more time and McCullough used in spot situations that require an H-Back. Seckinger and Cooper have to get better all-around or they will get passed by Leggett. Seckinger has to bulk up a bit and become a better blocker. Cooper has items to work on as a receiver and blocker though is in better shape from a weight/frame size. I'll also point out that Milan Richard is coming to town to push the veterans. Richard has more natural talent than those on the '13 roster but he still needs a lot of technical work.

His special teams this past season were overall average, generally not detrimental to the success of this football team (sans the miscues against Carolina), but certainly (aside from the field goal success) not taking any games over or positively turning momentum. With Coach Dabo on the sidelines and the fact that many others contribute to ST, I've come to accept that we'll always have confusion on 4th down so it is tough to directly blame the special teams' coordinator for stupid timeouts. I also believe that special teams play is an extremely important part of the game that should not be taken lightly. As such, I approve of one special teams coordinator instead of the piecemeal approach we've seen at times in the past. I would like the overall staff to be more prepared for 4th down scenarios to avoid wasting timeouts, but that is a different conversation for a different day.

Pearman's ineffectiveness recruiting Charlotte and the mid-Atlantic region absolutely cannot be ignored. While we acknowledge the recruitment of Adam Choice and give him and assist on Richard, he has struggled to pull players out of his territory. This is a critical recruiting region for Clemson and we cannot continue to fail given the quality of talent and geographical location to Clemson.

Given that our special teams are mediocre and Pearman has not shown the ability to pull players from Charlotte / the mid-Atlantic reason, we think Dabo should reassess Pearman's role within the football program. It is tough to justify having just a Tight Ends coach who struggles recruiting in his talent-rich territory (that lacks an elite in-region football power to recruit against). Had special teams had more of a pop, maybe. At a minimal, we need someone to recruit his territory well.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Shakin The Southland

You must be a member of Shakin The Southland to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Shakin The Southland. You should read them.

Join Shakin The Southland

You must be a member of Shakin The Southland to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Shakin The Southland. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9347_tracker