clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Clemson is in a Bad Place

New, 158 comments

What is going wrong for the Clemson Tigers??

NCAA Football: Troy at Clemson Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

The first step toward recovery is to admit that you have a problem. This team is not an offensive juggernaut right now. This team continues to have shaky special teams play. This team continues to struggle with late game defensive lapses. This isn’t the time to panic though, we are still 2-0 and the talent is in place, but the offense needs a hard dose of reality. This isn’t about crying, it is about correction.

Positives

Well this will be short. Kickoffs were deeper (Huegel is generally better at home). Defense was stout for much of the game up until the second half of the fourth quarter. The defense defended 17 possessions. 17. That is an insane workload given to them by the offense and special teams (definitely a positive that Brent Venables didn’t quit after the game or spontaneously combust in the middle of it). Clemson is extremely lucky to have BV as our defensive coordinator. Christian Wilkins is good at batting balls and Dexter Lawrence is still a beast (you can see the crazy difference in talent when he isn’t in the middle).

Hunter Renfrow. Refs gave us some huge breaks. We saved the legs of Wayne Gallman because he only had 9 carries in the game (oh wait, that isn’t a positive). Dabo was right that we couldn’t have played worse on offense--we now know the ugly floor.

The padding around the goalposts is now rounded (I guess there was an improvement to be made?? Now who was agitating for that?).

Umm...we get to play South Carolina State next week?

Negatives

The ACC is presented by Mellow Mushroom? MELLOW MUSHROOM?!? Well, it certainly reflects in the shoddy camerawork.

Give a lot of credit to Troy, but Troy also made a lot of unforced errors in the game. You can play the, well, Clemson should have had points from x, y, and z game, but so could Troy. Kickoff out of bounds, blown snap on a FG, missing a 48 yard FG, a third and a foot direct snap that sailed over the RB’s head on the edge of field goal range, going three deep at QB (where Joseph’s Int. came from).

OFFENSIVE OFFENSE

I’m definitely one of those people who think that talking about ‘momentum’ and ‘leadership’ are way too easy/lazy of terms that get thrown around for analysts and fans because they are easy to digest and don’t take much drilling down into the actual game or circumstances.

Did we read our own headlines and let Heisman talk get in the way of working? Maybe, but that is way too simplistic. This is more about execution.

Do not make an offensive substitution (outside of normal rotations) until the second quarter. Just don’t.

This was an over compensation for not getting guys enough playing time and experience against Auburn. But it does not do anyone any good when your starters, especially Deshaun Watson (DW) are having to play an entire game because of lukewarm early substitutions.

Please feel free to do this when you are up by three scores, but if you want an offense in rhythm then you need a cohesive set of players. This is especially true for the offensive line. With too many substitutions and missed assignments, starters lack crisp execution and when things start breaking down it hurts the confidence of the entire team, including your star QB (along with exposing him to more hits). It also puts an undue strain on your defense.

You want to talk nameless, faceless opponent? Then act like it with your personnel until you are up three scores (the players recognize these kinds of things—shades of sticking in Kelly Bryant last year, which thankfully hasn’t happened since because Dabo learned).

Offensive Line

Guess what Troy was running on defense? An odd front. Our offensive line dating back to the Brad Scott era struggles with analyzing and attacking odd fronts. You want to pinpoint one area that is dragging down the offense? It is clearly the offensive line.

Regardless of the front, I was disgusted when on second and goal from the one yard line the offensive line gets completely stuffed. Should never happen against a mid-major. I think the PA pass to Christian Wilkins was cute and all, but that should have been saved for another game when we really needed it.

But it isn’t just one guy. For example, on the first series LT Mitch Hyatt can’t hold his block on the edge resulting in a first down loss. Then on third down he gets a holding call, which results in a punt out of the endzone. First down, mid first quarter and RT Jake Fruhmorgan whiffs against #3 Witherspoon. Loss of three. Obvious passing down. On second down a pulling LG Falcinelli touches no one on the entire play!! as two defenders pass him on their way to pressuring DW to throw the ball away. On third down, Cain drops it, but it shouldn’t be third and 13. Falcinelli again whiffs on the pivotal fourth and one. He pulls and blocks air, stumbling five yards out of the play. DW doesn’t have a chance.

On first down after the botched FG attempt by Troy DW gets sacked. Hyatt gets beat on a speed rush by a corner. Hearn lets his man split him and Guillermo. Both players barely touch the pass rusher on a pass play. Unacceptable. Crowder and Fruh hold up slightly better but both get pushed back and give up their men. The best blockers on the play were Choice and G. Williams??

It’s a lovely picture of Hearn, Guillermo, and Crowder just standing around as DW gets pummeled. No effort, no intensity. Just standing around looking fat and lackadaisical. I’m not just picking out the worst plays either. This was the majority of the game.

Maverick Morris went full toro, allowing DW to get creamed after the change of possession with the Jospeh Int. Barely got a hand on the NT (not some blitzing Corner/Safety, this is the NT!?!).

Pollard and Anchrum struggled when they played tackle.

I want to see more John Simpson because this Falcinelli and Morris garbage isn’t going to cut it now or in the future.

#WRU??

If you are going to be #WRU then you need to catch the ball. 7+ drops?? If Trevion Thompson wants to stay in the rotation then he can’t have those drops (the last one was a fumble in my book, he secured the ball and made a move upfield). But this was on everyone—Cain, Scott, Leggett, etc. When it is that widespread then fundamentals aren’t being emphasized by the position coach. Jeff Scott needs to get his act together as well.

Also, if you are #WRU then you need to block like it. Our perimeter blocking is abhorrent. Guys are playing patty-cake, showing poor fundamentals and effort. We definitely miss Charone Peake in this area. There is no excuse for it. Our screen game won’t work unless WR’s want to block. There is definitely a lot of blame on the Offensive line with perimeter blocking as well. In both games we’ve seen lineman completely whiffing on assignments. It is part mental hiccups, but also some reduced flexibility and agility with the lineman that is disconcerting. Time for some emergency Yoga classes?? (and I am only half kidding about that)

Deshaunie Heisman

I blame the offensive line. Watson doesn’t start pressing until Mike Williams and DW have some miscommunication that leads to an Interception. I think that is on MW. But he didn’t really play that bad with the vanilla scheme.

He missed some throws and his receivers dropped some balls. Sure, I think he is thinking about his numbers and Heisman and potential first round position, instead of winning the next game and the next play. But more than anything I think he is just frustrated with poor offensive line performance in the first half. In the second half, we had a drive stall with three consecutive dropped balls.

Dye

Tyshon Dye has just not been able to recover any sort of quickness since his injuries. He absolutely fumbled and Clemson was lucky the refs were adamant that they blew the whistle. More Choice and Feaster going forward.

Kinda Special Teams

Andy Teasdall consistently fails to punt the ball 40 yards. Just unacceptable, lack of execution that continually put the defense in a bad spot. No pressure, no excuse. Of course, his 47 yard punt goes out of the endzone. We have consistently lost the field position battle in unbelievable fashion and if our offense is struggling this must be corrected (this has been a problem during Dabo’s entire tenure as head coach though so don’t hold your breath).

I love that RayRay sort of took one back to the house on punt return, but I care even more about field position going forward. We can’t let punts drop and roll for 50+ yards. Can’t happen.

On the punt return blunder at the goal line: It was stupid, but meh...I’m not that concerned. Shows a lack of discipline with the team overall (guys not listening to coaches and following the hand the ball off to the ref mentality). I thought unless there was a clear recovery of the ball by a Troy player immediately after the drop of the ball at the one yard line that it should have been Clemson’s ball at the one. That has been the ruling in the past when these same situations happen (even if the ball rolled onto the goal-line).

FG kicks are still a bit too low by Huegel.

Glad to see Feaster returning kickoffs. More of that please.

Defense

We had some minor hiccups apart from the end of the game regurgitation.

I don’t think the lack of a pass rush is a major concern right now. Troy gets the ball out of the QB’s hands very quickly and we played a lot of three man fronts. I think you worry more about fatigue than whether or not Ferrell can get to the QB. Interior pass rush was excellent from Watkins and Lawrence, even Pagano.

I thought the backups played pretty well for the most part. Their fourth and one touchdown was just a great play call and MLB Tre Lamar isn’t going to beat their fastest player to the corner. Not worried about Lamar.

Biggest cause for concern is the secondary pass coverage. Van Smith was not good in coverage (the two goal-line slants were on both he and the LB but he was playing too far off on both). He got burned a couple times in man coverage and always seems to falldown when a receiver makes a move on him to get open. We are just not great in coverage with our current SAM/Nickel combinations.

With running QB’s we still are having trouble with gap integrity, especially with Boulware and Van Smith.

Coaching

We lost first down the entire game. That has to change. Too predictable, too vanilla? Sure. But there is no excuse for not executing your base offense. Troy wasn’t constantly stuffing the box with 8 guys. They were confusing our front with different pressure and different looks. Not being able to make adjustments is on the coaching staff.

Kudos to the staff for staying with McCloud. He was our most consistent and explosive offensive threat in the game.

I want to hear more comments like this in the coming week: