clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Syracuse at Clemson: Depth Chart Blue Chip Analysis

New, 92 comments

This week, our Depth Chart Blue Chip Analysis takes a twist as we compare some of our weaker ACC opponents to each other to get a better feel for the conference and our matchup.

NCAA Football: Syracuse at Boston College Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Once again, we've divided the offense and the defense into three portions each. For the offense, the starting QB, the starting O-line, and the 2-deep for the remaining skill positions (WR, TE, RB) are each weighted to represent one-third of the overall offense rating. Similarly on defense, the 2-deep at D-line, linebacker, and in the secondary are each weighted to represent one-third of the overall defense rating regardless of scheme.

This shouldn’t have to be said, but there are always players who over-perform their original star rating (e.g., Hunter Renfrow, Lamar Jackson) and as well as those who underperform their star ratings. As such, this is only one portion of the analysis we will publish on the upcoming game, but we hope this is an informative one.

We’ve done something a bit different with this edition of the Blue Chip Analysis. Rather than compare just Clemson and this week’s opponent, we’ve also included comparisons to some other ACC opponents we’ve faced (GT, BC, NCSU). This will give some context and provide additional comparisons.

Before we jump right into the offense, let’s discuss a few things about Syracuse under their new coach, Dino Babers.

Let’s start by candidly acknowledging most of us at STS were not fond of Coach Scott Shafer. He called Atlantans “soft-nosed” (maybe I am, but not all of us) and screamed curse words at Coach Swinney (nobody curses at our coach except us!). Additionally, Shafer was a poor offensive coach and did the ACC no favors by dragging Syracuse below mediocrity.

Well, he is gone and Babers has come over from Bowling Green and has brought an exciting up-tempo offense. While he certainly still lacks some pieces, he has almost immediately made them dangerous. Three weeks ago they had their biggest win when they knocked off ACC Coastal favorite Virginia Tech. They then went on the road and beat BC. Now they’re coming off a bye week before their trip to Clemson.

That’s not to say Clemson should be on upset alert. Syracuse is one of the two or three least talented FBS teams on our schedule, but they’re well coached and much more dangerous than the team that lost eight straight games a season ago.

You can’t hate a coach with that level of humility. Maybe, just maybe this will be the year we get through game week without any strangely aggressive bulletin board material from ‘Cuse players and get through the game without any coaches cursing across the field. Maybe, just maybe, with Shafer now gone, we can bury the hatchet in our weird psuedo-rivalry with our citrus fruit loving friends from New York after this week.

On to the numbers!

If Auburn and FSU were on this chart Clemson obviously wouldn’t look nearly as super human. Here we see Clemson compared to the three weakest ACC opponents they’ve faced so far and the upcoming Syracuse Orange. Based solely on the 24/7 recruiting metrics, their offense is one of the least talented we’ve faced.

14 of the 16 offensive players included in this analysis were three star recruits. The other two were 2-star players coming via transfer from GEORGETOWN! They have no four-star recruits in the analysis

The Orangemen on the O-line are going to have a lot of trouble slowing Clemson’s D-line, but unlike Jimbo’s Seminoles, they’ll use tempo and quick passes to negate Clemson’s big advantage there. It was more than a bit curious to see FSU let Francois sit in the pocket and scan the field for as long as he did.

Syracuse’s tempo and scheme are going to make them much more dangerous than some similarly talented teams. They also have two players who really stand out. These are QB Eric Dungey and WR Amba Etta-Tawo. Dungey has 2,631 passing yards (Watson has 2,328) and 289 rushing yards (Watson has 331). He has 15 passing TDs to 6 INTs (Watson 22-10). Amazingly, Etta-Tawo has 1,074 receiving yards, which accounts for about 40 percent of the team’s receiving yardage (Mike Williams has 648). With such a focused passing attack, one critical matchup to watch will be Etta-Tawo going up against CB Cordrea Tankersley.

Now a look at the defenses.

Without the notable standout players, a hair less overall talent, and no creative scheme to hide deficiencies, things look a bit more grim for Syracuse on defense. 18 of the 23 Syracuse defensive players included in this analysis were three-star recruits. Five were two-star guys. In particular, three of the eight DBs included in this analysis were were two-star recruits giving Syracuse very low 2.63 average for the secondary. As you can see, BC also had quite a low star average in their secondary and we pointed that out as the #1 weakness to exploit. We do it again this week.

Watson’s deep ball accuracy hasn’t been quite right this year. He missed a wide open Deon Cain on the third drive of the FSU game. It was a throw and catch that would have put Clemson up 21-0 and possibly made for a less thrilling finish.

Syracuse simply has not recruited the defensive players to slow Watson and our elite WR corps. This matchup, like the one against BC, presents an opportunity to work in some deep shots and hit some explosive plays. Hopefully it helps the Tigers not only win this game, but also gain confidence in the deep ball.

I don’t believe Clemson will completely thwart the Orange offense like we did BC. They’re too well coached and have a very good QB-WR combo. They’ll make some plays, but if Clemson plays reasonable well (i.e., not like they did against NC State), they shouldn’t have much problem scoring enough to avoid another thrilling finish.

Clemson - 38, Syracuse - 21

Lastly, let’s touch on the other ACC comparisons in the charts. It’s interesting how similar the teams are. Sure, NCSU traditionally has a strong D-line and we see that in these metrics. GT’s O-line is a bit better than some of the others, but by in large the talent is very comparable. I somewhat expected to see NC State and Georgia Tech a touch higher than Syracuse and Boston College, but there differences are mostly negligible. It’ll be interesting to see what the coaches can do with these programs over the next few years.