Coach Morris starts us off with some straight talk about N.C. State that we all needed to hear. After blowing out three opponents and barely breaking a sweat, it can be easy to put the season on auto-pilot and look ahead to South Carolina (we were 9-1 when we played the Wolfpack last season as well). Turnovers in this game will not be as easily overcome.
Point blank, they got after our tail last year. They got after us. This is something that will not go unnoticed this week, as we continue to talk about a very sound defensive football team in State, and what they did to us last year. The same record, I think we were 9-1, ranked in the top 10. They embarrassed us. And that’s something that our guys, I don’t know if they were overlooking the game a year ago or not, it didn’t matter. They got after our tail. That’s something -- they’ve got five returning starters from last year’s team. They haven’t changed their system and what they do. If anything, they move their front more.
You know what you get from the Wolfpack at this point. They will pass to set up the run. Mike Glennon won't run out of the pocket but he thrashed our secondary last year. Swinney was correct in calling the Wolfpack offense a rhythm offense.
They've good backs and capable receivers. I think Underwood has 10 touchdowns. Their o-line is huge. They have a lot of size. They also do a great job with their tight ends. You better know where they are. They want to be a rhythm team. We will have to tackle very well and try to create some turnovers.
We need to get pressure on the QB and disrupt the rhythm of their passing game but since we aren't good in press man we need the D-line to continue its progress. This will be a good test to see where we are as a team but also as a preview for South Carolina. One match-up that I will be looking at is our LB's against their TE's. Can Spencer Shuey not get exposed in coverage? Our Safeties will need to play with more discipline.
On offense Morris surprisingly applauded the play of David Beasley and Gifford Timothy. Beasley was the lineman of the week and was challenged by reduced reps this past week. Ryan Norton is getting a good bit of playing time in anticipation for his taking a spot next year with Freeman's graduation (wish Battle had redshirted but Morris defended that move saying that .
Giff is getting better. He actually showed a few signs of kind of having some dominating performances out there. As a matter of fact, he showed kind of a hard edge, at times. I had to re-run the film to make sure. That’s steps in the right direction there...Still, we’ve still got a long way to go. But he’s played well over the last few weeks. It’s been good to see him gain some confidence. He’s been a pleasant surprise for us this year.
When was the last time we had a pleasant surprise on the offensive line? 2006? Those who were questioning the hiring of Coach Caldwell during the offseason were just plain silly (here I applaud Dr. B and STS who actually suggested this move well before it happened). We will see how GIff and Beasley hold up these last two weeks, which are the real test but Caldwell has proven to be a great hire.
On defense N.C State got healthy up front last year just in time to play us and they dominated the game. We didn't score a TD until late in the 4th in garbage time. They lead the ACC in sacks and are 10th in the country overall. This is an athletic front. People think we are just going to blow them out but I just don't see it yet. The real test will be our WR's against their DB's. They will play a lot of man coverage just like most of the teams we have faced since Florida State and how well David Amerson and C.J. WIlson play will go a long way in determining the outcome of the game.
We’re expecting to see a lot of man, a lot of cover-two. They do a really good job of disguising it...They take chances and they are aggressive – that is their style of play. And they are physical with the receivers. They were physical last year, and it was a battle. They got after us last year.
A quick note on Tajh: Tajh was asked about his NFL prospects and left the door open to potentially leaving early. While Nuk seems all but gone no one has thought much about Tajh. Swinney was even asked about it during the ACC teleconference.
I don't really have any thoughts about that. My thoughts are on N.C. State. And I think that's where his thoughts are as well. Personally I'll be very surprised if he's not back here. But that's not something we're focusing on. There's a time and a place for that.
The rest is for the recruiting junkies like myself (and goes on way too long). Swinney was asked about recruiting in the ACC teleconference and he laid out the most comprehensive statement on his philosophy that I have seen to date. He was first asked about the early signing period idea.
Oh yeah. Absolutely. It’s ridiculous that we don’t have one. It is a waste of a lot of time and people’s money. It would eliminate a lot of the garbage going on right now in recruiting. You know how I am anyway – if a guy is committed and he is taking visits, then he is not committed. That is their right, and I wouldn’t tell someone to not go and take visits, I would just tell them not to commit. But you can’t hold someone’s scholarship and have us more committed to them than they are to us.
Obviously this is Swinney responding to all the visits that are being taken by recruits this cycle. Normally I say to people who ask about Swinney's no visit policy that they have it wrong. Swinney will allow visits, just not secret visits behind the back of the staff. Here we see Swinney moving more towards the straight up visit somewhere else and you are not committed rule. I think Swinney is still battling himself a little bit here. I like a general guideline that can be adapted to circumstances but that can get dicey quick.
If you are committed, that is what it means. It would really be beneficial to both sides if you had a signing day. There are a lot of different theories. Take September 15th for example and look at us – we had 17, 18, or 19 commits before we ever played a game. If those guys don’t sign with you on that date, then you know they aren’t committed and you know you have to go to work. If he won’t sign with you then you know there is a problem.The flip side of that is that all the guys that do sign with you, they can enjoy their senior year and can enjoy having the confidence of knowing they have a scholarship and not have someone pull it in January. I think it would be beneficial to both sides. I think it would be beneficial because guys are committing so early. You get guys that are committed for two years – that is a long time. When you only sign 25 a year and only go by a need and get that one committed, you have to depend on him to be there and have a scholarship for him.If you have those and they don’t commit, then you could really target and move on to those that are committed.
The early signing period would be an interesting experiment but my fear is that you would just move up all of the bad parts of recruiting to an earlier date. Also the vast majority of recruits would have to produce as sophomores and juniors. The late bloomers wouldn't have a chance and senior years would become more meaningless.
I tell them up front - I just tell guys up front and I am sure the coaches cringe every time they bring me a prospect or I get on the phone with one. The first thing I do is I try to talk them out of it. Then I ask them if they are serious, and I define it so we can agree on a definition. But I tell them if they want to be a commit and take visits to other places, then don’t commit. Let us just keep recruiting you. I don’t know what is so complicated about it. We try to not operate like that here. I wouldn’t want a guy to not do anything that is not best for him. When a guy makes a commitment at Clemson, we define it up front. There is no gray area. We have to make sure we can cover ourselves. When people are committed to other schools and they reach out to us, then they are not committed to that other school.
I love the last line as a justification for not being hypocritical. It needs to be said from a PR perspective but I love nothing more than turning Dawg recruits away from Georgia. I do think Swinney is upfront with recruits and he certainly was with Nkemdiche. Swinney explains to every commit what it means to be committed to Swinney and Clemson (whether that changes from recruit to recruit is another story but again, something I certainly support).