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March Madness Sunday Thoughts

The warmer weather and longer days are well appreciated--as are the items associated with with this time of year.  Spring football is up and running, college basketball provides a frenzy of excitement, baseball is fully rolling, and golf is in the full swing of its Spring affair.  Overall, happiness abounds.

Clemson was able to pull away from Georgia State last week and now hosts Illinois in an early Sunday tip.  K.J. McDaniels again will be the star on the court in this one and the Tigers will need him on his game to keep their NIT run going.  This should be an interesting matchup for the Tigers as Illinois will bring a bigger lineup to Tigertown.  The best comparison I've heard regarding Illinois and the teams we've seen to date would be Georgia Tech or Miami.

Baseball saw Clemson squander a very good opportunity to take the FSU series after winning the first game then getting rocked in the second, Clemson entered the 7th inning in game 2 of yesterday's doubleheader with a 3-1 lead only to see the Seminoles explode for 3 runs against the Clemson bullpen.  To throw salt on the wound, Jameis Winston was able to close out the last 2+ innings unscathed.  This series is a big one in the race for the ACC.  Clemson goes to Georgia for their mid-week game then heads to College Park for the weekend series against the Terps.

I believe we've all had a good opportunity to reflect on the 2013 season and look forward to 2014 as STS put the final touches on last season via our coaching critique and end of season summary.  One of the items of interest was the offensive line discussion and the impact S&C has on their development.  We also discussed the impact that commitment to the running game has on an offensive line and how a lack of commitment there exposes fallacies in S&C for various reasons.  These concepts are important enough to me to reemphasize them here today.  We had better stay used to Batson and his current role because Swinney will not push this change.

We here at STS have begged and pleaded for more emphasis on the ground game.  We've argued year after year that more carries for Ellington then Hot Rod would improve this offense.  We expected more of an emphasis on the running game when Morris was hired based on his track record at Tulsa.  In Morris' defense, having Sammy Watkins as a weapon is very tempting.  Also, Morris' offensive strategy relied on A to A running plays.  Because we are so poor getting push up the middle Morris cannot do what he wants there...if he tried it there would be no hole because most teams are smart enough to realize that if they play an odd front they can whip our center's ass play after play but that is a bigger topic for another day.  Moral of the story is that Clemson should run the football more and there are no excuses for not running the ball more (particularly when you see the success that we've seen over the past couple seasons when we actually ran the football) but Morris does have headwinds here and has to adjust his core strategy to overcome getting minimal interior line push.  I don't have time (or patience this morning) to get into short yardage woes today.

The other item of interest is Clemson's offensive line recruiting strategy.  Clemson's decision to minimally recruit and sign linemen absolutely drives the authors of this site nuts.  How in the hell you avoid bringing in the guys who are the keys to a consistent, successful offensive attack is beyond me.  From Dr. B's discussion of the offensive line last week:

However we still take issue with Clemson's OL recruiting, for the umpteenth consecutive year. We took two official linemen, with another that is likely to move from TE to Tackle in his time here. We took only 2 last year. We don't carry an offer board comparable to other schools in the southeast here, as Paul Strelow's work this week shows. I have been harping on this for several years but he laid out the numbers. Clemson has offered 81 WRs over the last 3 seasons, yet only 52 offensive linemen. For the last 3 classes, we've averaged 17.3 offers to OL. FSU has averaged 33.6, Alabama 25.6, SC 22.

This is ridiculous on many levels and you don't need me to spell out why.

The golf is really heating up now.  Most are watching for a reemergence from Tiger Woods.  Right now he has health issues and clearly hasn't been playing well.  His decision to bypass Bay Hill this weekend shows that he is indeed having health issues and likely won't be close to peak in Augusta in several weeks.  Right now, Adam Scott is cruising.  His ascent to become one of the best golfers in the world has been fun to watch.  His name will be repeated quite a bit this year.  The other item that got a ton of run this week was Bubba Watson's struggles.  Watson was playing well this year heading into Arney's Tournament but struggled tremendously before pulling out of the even prior to Friday's round.  I am sure he'll recover before heading into the first major as his tournament was derailed by Thursday's mid-round 11.  That is impossible to overcome so Watson probably realized he'd miss the cut so chose to move on a day earlier.

The Winston Cup series is in Fontana this week.  It is afternoons like this that make me quickly loose interest in the Cup series.  I get it, you can run Indy Cars as well as Cup cars at the track.  That is important for revenue streams and such.  These types of tracks are too similar to the other "new" tracks on the circuit and, in my opinion, are a bit boring.  The next month or so includes Martinsville, Darlington, Talladega, and Richmond (in addition to Texas) so there is excitement for me on the horizon.