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Post-Ball State Sunday Thoughts

Sep 8, 2012; Clemson, SC, USA; Clemson Tigers head coach Dabo Swinney (center) enters Memorial Stadium prior to the start of the game against the Ball State Cardinals. Clemson won 52-27. Mandatory Credit: Joshua S. Kelly-US PRESSWIRE
Sep 8, 2012; Clemson, SC, USA; Clemson Tigers head coach Dabo Swinney (center) enters Memorial Stadium prior to the start of the game against the Ball State Cardinals. Clemson won 52-27. Mandatory Credit: Joshua S. Kelly-US PRESSWIRE

First and foremost, we'll discuss the excellent television deal that our ACC leadership negotiated. Instead of doing a number of reasonable and smart things, the commish agreed to include Raycom the rights to broadcast games ESPN and ABC don't want. The result-I was more pissed at Raycom this weekend than I was at our defense. I've accepted the fact that the coverage will be subpar. The repeated dropped coverage, however, is unacceptable. It makes our conference look even worse than it already is and pisses off the fans. Who the hell (recruiting) wants to watch a football game that is constantly cutting out to local programming and blank screens? Not to mention the fact that it is impossible to keep up with game flow for the fans, this is piss poor. As soon as I get some decent contacts, they will be all over STS. This is bullshit and Clemson (along with FSU, and VT) provides a tremendous amount of football firepower to the rest of this lame ass conference and we shouldn't be stuck with this good ole boy bullshit from Swofford.

Here is what I thought of the game, when Raycom wasn't butchering the coverage...There were some positives but a lot of items that simply scare me from the Ball State contest. I'll first chat about the first half with some detail then give overall thoughts to wrap it up because we took most of our offensive firepower out of the game in the second quarter.

The first half went about as expected. We said in the preview that Ball State's defense was garbage and the Clemson offense shredded them through the air and probably could have pounded them if we wanted. I think (and hope) that this strategy was based on trying to work out some pass blocking deficiencies we saw last week against Auburn.

Clemson was 7-9 on third down conversions and had 21 first downs in the first half. Both QBs played well: Tajh 19/23 for 229 and Stoudt 4/6 for 40 yards. All three of Tajh Boyd's touchdown passes were to DeAndre Hopkins. Nuk-for the second week in a row-was a beast here with six grabs for 105 yards and the three touchdowns mentioned earlier. All the Spring/Summer/Camp hype we heard about Hopkins and his excellent work ethic are shining through here. He is off to a fast start and will put defenses in a pickle trying to decide whether to bracket him or Sammy. As a team, Clemson had 24 carries for 113 yards. Ellington had 41 yards on the ground for 2 TDs. It was nice to see Hot Rod show out with 34 yards on 8 carries and one TD. Like we've said numerous times, we need him and Howard to provide quality snaps so Andre Ellington can get some rest throughout the year.

I was pleased to see Peake make some big grabs though he did have a disappointing drop near the end of the half. Getting production out of him will be nice this year-especially when you consider how talented he is. Humphries had a nice half with 5 catches for 50+ yards. Brown and Ford both helped the cause with three catches a piece. If we can get these guys going in addition to Sammy Watkins, Hopkins, and Ellington, this offense will be very tough to stop.

I will say that I thought the WR blocking was pretty good, particularly on some of the early WR screens. Additionally, Brandon Ford did a good job blocking-per usual. Martavis Bryant needs a little work on this skill. Speaking of Bryant, he ran a reverse and was getting a good block/some interference by a hustling Tajh Boyd and likely should have turned that big gain into a touchdown. That is nit-picky but just something he'll need to work on. Bryant is so fast that he can be a big threat for this offense with just a little more development.

Defense was what we (kind of) expected as well. Ball State (despite their quarterback having trouble grabbing the football) moved the ball against this Clemson defense. They got a long touchdown run against a defense that took poor angles and was out of position. I got particularly pissed when Stephone Anthony blew up a play for a loss but couldn't wrap up the back and ended up giving up approximately eight yards on the play. The Clemson secondary was crap, particularly in man coverage against BSU's receivers. We gave up a 17 yard reception and committed several interference fouls to keep drives alive for the opponent.

Overall, I was extremely disappointed overall on defense and almost irate with Martavis Bryant. Before I jump all over the defense, I'll give props to Travis Blanks. He is a football player and is one heck of an athlete, especially as a freshman. Otherwise, the defense was horrid. Our defensive line got dominated. Linebackers made bad decisions then got sucked out of plays. Anthony looks like a guy who has a ton of talent but is trying to play too fast. Wrong gap then swept out of plays. I was particularly peeved when he had a man stood up for a three yard loss but couldn't wrap up and they got 8 yards. The rest of the linebackers were no better. I got a little mixed up with Corico's name change. I was used to asking "What the hell is Hawkins doing" and now I have to adjust. We got whipped up front all day and, the combination of the poor defensive play and the linebackers being suckers on any cutbacks, allowed Ball State to rip us for a lot of rushing yards. Don't think the defensive backs played well either. Brewer was garbage. I understand that Hall isn't what he was a couple years ago due to the injury suffered last season, but he has to be better than Brewer. Brewer is lost all the time and embarrasses the entire secondary. Otherwise, we gave up big first downs on pass interferences and such. If I were playing Clemson, I would fire the ball deep and often cause right now our secondary cannot handle such.

Offensively, we played pretty well. I was happy with the two deep moving through. The first team rolled (as described earlier) and the reserves put in a good effort as well. We saw that Stoudt is ready to step in and play. I think that Hot Rod showed he has improved and is ready to contribute. Humphries and Peake are ready at the WR spots and Ford rebounded with a couple catches. The one issue that chapped my ass today was the piss poor play of Martavis Bryant. Dropped passes are one thing-piss poor effort blocking for your teammates is another. Thanks to Bryant, one of our receivers got ass planted by the Hawk, Andre Dawson. We need Bryant because he has a lot of skills and potential. I am glad he got the late touchdown but we need more from this young man.

Last but certainly not least is our kicking game. I'll start with the bad and end with the incredible. Catman, WTF? Extra points make us want to break stuff and are completely unacceptable. Missing the PAT is just giving away points and is complete crap. Spencer Benton proved he has a cannon for a leg. 61 yards later this young man set a conference and school record for long field goal. I'll admit, I dropped several "Holy S__t" bombs following the kick. Wow, excellent job there.

All in all, there were good and bad things today. I think Dabo is progressing as a head coach and "executive." I was fairly happy with the way he managed certain portions of the game Saturday. We cleared the benches and got a lot of people critical experience in critical situations. Even when Ball State put early 3rd quarter points up, Coach Dabo was committed to getting players experience and understood the lead that Clemson had. I don't think Swinney has arrived yet (and definitely not immune from criticism) but do believe that he is much more mature as a head coach and made better decisions yesterday than he would have made a year or two ago. The big in-game gripe I have was the decision to go for two points early in the second quarter. Clemson successfully converted the single point after touchdown but a Ball State penalty allowed Coach Dabo to reevaluate the situation. He then pressed and went for two. I don't like taking points off the board and I equally dislike trying to make up points in this fashion this early in a game. How many times have you seen a team try this maneuver and fail then spend the rest of a football game trying to make up points that were needlessly lost. It is like buying a stock, watching it tank, then stubbornly holding onto the stock until "it makes up lost ground" even when the fundamentals tell you the value was lost for good reason. At some point you have to realize that you cut your loss and try to make up for the failure (in this case missed PAT) under the appropriate circumstances. Fortunately for Clemson, we converted the two-pointer else you would have to listen to me complain about this one for quite some time.

There are still gameplay items that I question out of Swinney. We displayed poor clock management/time out management last week. I continue to question the red shirt decisions by the staff and Swinney. Tony Steward got hurt and, with the emergence of two viable backs behind Ellington, the decision to play Zac Brooks looks more and more questionable. The Steward decision is irresponsible. He has too much talent not to save a year to get him into the LB rotation. Brooks is not physically ready to put in significant snaps. Unless they just have a package for him, it is inexcusable. Brooks needs to add about 20 or so pounds of college football weight and he could do it without burning a year of eligibility. Speaking of weight...what the hell is up with Spencer Region? I didn't realize they made gear that big. He has to shed some of that weight if we expect to get any significant snaps out of him. This is clearly a question of want and push by our S&C/coaching staff.

Clemson gets one more tuneup in the Valley before traveling down to Tallahassee in a game that could very well decide the Atlantic. Please use this game in a similar fashion to Ball State. Work on things and make a big effort to get quality snaps for the non-starters because depth will be a big deal this season.

Around the football world, UGa/Missouri was so tough to watch I went to bed instead of watching the end. Both teams looked disorganized and flustered through three quarters of play and just not ready to play a nationally televised football game. LSU and Bama were both good teams to watch. Both understand how the game should be played. LSU gave me my weekly Isolation Play fix.

Arkansas, ha ha sucka. It only took John L. Smith two games to throw away the season...even before they got into conference play. Done Son! Now watch Arkansas win some games they shouldn't have and we'll all just scratch our heads. The only thing left with the Razorbacks is John Daly Tweets and me praying that John L. goes apeshit while talking to battlepig Holly Rowe.

Penn State got dappled in Charlottesville. The Nittany Lions may not win four games this season. Looks like the players who jumped ship made the correct football decision. The bad thing for the university and its fans is this will likely be the best season they have for many, many years. They are looking at Wake Forrest/Duke caliber football in Happy Valley for some time. Along those same lines, Miami is screwed for years to come as well. Then screwed the pooch yesterday as well, getting drilled by Kansas State. Now Kansas State is much better than Virginia but I expect that kind of performance out of the Canes for some time as they fear the pain of the almighty NCAA. Maybe that means we won't have to see Al Golden dressed like a complete douchebag on national television this year. Let me repeat what I've said before: Kicking it with a tie on the sideline is fine (so long as it is not a bowtie). However, do it right-the Schnellenberger way with a pimp ass suit. Hell, that is one of the rare occasions that a fedora is acceptable. Instead, Golden looks like the girls' soccer coach at your local high school-you know, the yahoo who wishes he had a girls' soccer jersey to wear to school on gameday but can't. Dude doesn't want to be left out of "dressing up for school" on gameday so he rocks a pair of Nike's with kakis and a tie...looking a lot like Al Golden on the sidelines.

After a 64 Saturday, Lefty and Vijay will dual on Sunday. Mickelson was incredible Saturday so, naturally, I expect him to do something stupid on Sunday. Westwood, McIlroy, and Scott are looming 1-2 shots behind. Either of these guys could rip it up, but Rory has been nails lately and could put a run together similar to what he did last week. Tiger is three shots back and has been playing well as of late, so don't discount the Man in Red on Sunday. I am pulling for Phil, so if you see some fired up tweets that is why. Phil could light it up or do something stupid like try and hit a ball right handed out of bamboo while jockeying for the lead at the Masters. You can never tell. The Golf Channel may very well have been the biggest winner yesterday. NBC chose to show Notre Dame football instead of a FedEx Cup golf tournament. In steps the Golf Channel which likely saw a spike in ratings as sports fans added the Golf Channel into the college football clicker rotation. Today should be a good final round with a trip to East Lake on the line (Top 30 advance).

The Neckcar Circuit is ready for "Playoff Racing." I was wrong the other week when I claimed Jeff Gordon had to win to make it in. Gordon parlayed a Top 5 finish and poor performances by his peers into a spot in the Chase. I am still not a fan of The Chase. They essentially take the first 2/3 of the season and throw it away. I liked the Winston Cup format where consistency throughout the season counted. Now, they take your points and screw the drivers who were consistent without wins. I agree that wins should have more weight than they used to, but this seems ridiculous.

I am not sure who to contact regarding the bullshit that is Raycom. Here is the info for the Clemson SID:

Assistant AD/SID for Football:

Tim Bourret, Notre Dame 1977

Associate SID/Secondary Football Contact:

Brian Hennessy, Clemson 1998

Sr. Associate SID: Sam Blackman, Clemson 1985 Libby Kehn, Clemson 2002

Associate SID: Philip Sikes, Clemson 2002

Assistant SID: Jeff Kallin, Clemson ‘2007

SID Office Phone: (864) 656-2114

SID Fax Machine: (864) 656-0299

Bourret E-Mail:

ACC Info:

Atlantic Coast Conference

4512 Weybridge Lane

Greensboro, NC 27407

Phone: (336) 854-8787

The ACC also gives you this crappy way to provide comments:

Last by certainly not least, contact Raycom DIRECTLY:

Raycom Sports
1900 West Morehead St.
Charlotte, NC 28208

Main Phone: 704.378.4400