This was simultaneously the Clemson coaching staff's greatest evening from one perspective and at the same time, their most epic failure.
Back when the Winston crab legs incident occurred, we at STS of course, had a good laugh at FSU's expense in the comment section. An FSU fan and frequent poster here decided to change the subject and get a dig in by asking, "when do you think you will catch up with Florida State in terms of talent?" The answer to that question is this year.
From a player development and talent perspective, Clemson showed that they can develop elite level talent. Clemson went in to the preseason #1 and defending National Champion's stadium and out-played them in the majority of the "mano y mano" matchups. Our front 7 was dominant. If you had told me that we would hold FSU to a ridiculous 0.5 yards per carry and that Sean Maguire's TQBR would be 26.4, I would've have thought we won comfortably.
If you would have added that we would get 7 trips to the redzone and they would've had just 2 (counting the bomb), I would have thought we probably won by 30 points.
However, therein lies the stat of the night. Coming into the game FSU had allowed 100% redzone scoring and 80% of the time had allowed a TD. In our 7 trips to the redzone we managed only 17 points. FSU scored 14 in their 2 trips. That's the game right there.
There were so many mistakes in scoring range, that this loss falls directly on the offensive coaching staff and the head coach. There were plenty of blunders in fundamental play and decision making. Had we managed points in any of the other 4 trips to the redzone, quite simply, we win. We could've absorbed the coverage bust and there would've been no overtime.
That's the minimal assessment. The maximum assessment involves getting 7 TDs and returning the blowout favor from last year. Instead, I'd love to erase the memory of the low pass to a wide open TE, the FG misses, and the high snap, but unfortunately, this will be one I will remember for a long time.
I'm not going to pile on any one individual player here. They know they messed up and for the rest of their life, they will think about those crucial mistakes. I will be doing a film review on the defense and there should be a lot more positives than the offense and special teams delivered.
I will say that a lot of kickers are head cases and I often think it has as much to do with their teammates, and not being "one of the boys" as it does the game pressure. Kickers are ostracized in the locker room, and made to feel like 2nd class football players and it's with everybody from equipment managers to the Senior star player. In fact, the walk-on who will never play has a higher standing in the locker room than the kicker. Kickers hear a lot of negatives and some don't handle it as well as others. I once played with a kicker who could make game winning FGs under pressure but routinely would miss extra points. It's just a psyche-oriented position and you really don't know what you have until game action.
I will also say that I would've liked to have seen a challenge on Davidson's goalline run where he landed in the endzone. The head coach has to have overall awareness to throw the challenge flag and needs to have people around him telling him to throw it. He does not need to be thinking about approving what play we're going to run and what Morris is going to do next unless you can do the head coach's job first.
If you got a chance to read my "Paper Test" post on Saturday evening, you saw where, unlike last year, the stats suggested that Clemson was the better team heading into the game even with Winston in there. Well, we were the better team and we still lost.
All of the sudden, that once silly "5 of 10" comment that Dabo got hammered for last year, seems to hold a lot more water now. I still don't think we would have won 5 of 10 last year but, I also don't think FSU would win 5 of 10 against us this year.
So, the one positive here is in player development and recruiting. The talent gap, that was so apparent last year, is completely gone this year. We should expect to be able to compete athletically with Florida State in the future and expect to beat them at home as we did for most of the past 10+ years.
The obvious negative is that you never know when you're going to be dealt a Royal Flush and have everything fall into place for you to have that one magical season; that one season where Dabo, Morris, and Venables justify their high salaries and buyouts; that one season where we can hit the recruiting trail claiming to be the big dog in the ACC; that one season that boosts our program up to elite status and creates confidence and a championship attitude; that one season where we make the playoff and get a shot at a 2nd National Title.
We squandered our chance at that special season last night. You will get no coot logic/ "wait till next year" bs from me. This was another golden opportunity for the program to the next step and our Tigers failed in grandiose fashion on the national stage. This time, though, we held our own. There were no smoke and mirrors. We didn't need a 4th and 16 conversion, trick plays, or poor coaching decisions by the opposition. I'm also of the opinion that we didn't need Winston to be suspended to win that game either.
So, the question remains: When will the moment not be too big for Clemson?
<object width="425" height="350" class="mceItemFlash"> <param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/yjW9UXoKU2s"></param> <param name="wmode" value="transparent"></param> <embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/yjW9UXoKU2s" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" wmode="transparent" width="425" height="350"></embed> </object>
To Be The Man (via krayven76)