Welcome back, folks. I know you’re as disappointed as I am that Clemson didn’t play their song last week, but we still have plenty of takes to enjoy for now. So, this week in the Take Valley we’ll throw some takes in the larder for the winter so we don’t starve through the bleak mid-season. There’s not a lot of heat down in this low section of the valley, but there’s still plenty to gather.
Let’s get started.
We won’t remember Trevor Lawrence’s “struggles” by playoff time
Have you noticed a trend lately in Clemson football?
In 2015, Clemson struggled with Louisville and barely survived a late surge by Notre Dame early in the year. They had to escape shootouts against Syracuse and UNC, and let South Carolina play a game that was a bit too close for comfort. But come playoff time, Clemson shutdown Baker Mayfield’s Oklahoma and only let Alabama get away from them with special teams swing plays, despite major injuries to a few All-American defenders.
In 2016, Clemson beat Auburn by 6 on the road to open the season and a week later struggled to keep Troy at arm’s length (in what would have been an absolutely incredible case of Clemsoning, just a fact). They allowed a Louisville team to come back from an 18 point deficit and hand Lamar Jackson the Heisman even in eventual defeat, before his team fell apart late in the year. Then they won in overtime versus a middling NC State thanks to a missed field goal as time expired. Oh, right, and they lost to an unranked Pitt led by future Buffalo Bills star Nathan Peterman at home 43-42. A month and a half later Clemson obliterated Ohio State and topped Alabama to claim the crown.
2017 saw a loss to a 4-8 Syracuse team; 2018 saw struggles with A&M and Syracuse before taking off in the second half of the season.
The point here should be clear: Clemson consistently gets a lead and then throws the game into cruise control during the regular season. They do it to give back-ups extra experience, try new concepts in live games, and to generally give players rest. When they do it, there are mistakes, and those mistakes look bad in season stats, but those efforts bear fruit late in the season – to the tune of a 5-2 playoff record with 4 blowout wins.
There is no need to worry about Trevor Lawrence’s “slow start” statistically unless you’re really upset he probably won’t end up lifting the Heisman because of it, but that’s more than okay.
If you don’t know, don’t boo
In the Fall of 2011, Tulsa offensive coordinator Chad Morris was hired to bring a hurry up no-huddle smashmouth spread offense to Clemson, an offense that desperately needed a fresh system (and look at all the buzz words in the name of that offense, it’s perfect).
This was a time of massive change in college football, be it conference realignment, the zenith of the “alt unis” era, and the rise of the hurry up offense.
The era that saw the hurry up only run by gimmick system offenses that needed to score as much as possible to make up for a lackluster defense, was quickly dying (though not dead yet) and defenses needed to find a way to slow them down.
One way to do that was to force incompletions and keep the opposing offense from getting into a rhythm that tires the defense out and starts chewing away at yardage, another is to do what Georgia famously may have done in 2013: fake injuries. It’s simple but it works so well purely because it’s almost impossible to tell which players are hurt and which players are just slowing down the pace of the game.
At first, the reaction was “is this really happening?” and “we should have an anti-flopping rule” comments quickly followed. But the wheels of the NCAA are incredibly slow even by bureaucratic standards, and 6 years later there is still no clear solution to the problem.
One thing has definitely changed, though. The crowds cheering for HUNH teams have grown tired of waiting for a true solution. Instead, many take matters into their own hands, deciding for themselves who is hurt and who isn’t and showering anyone they deem unworthy of medical attention with boos.
Clemson has found itself a prime member of this booing allegedly fake injuries group, and before long the crowd will boo someone with a genuine injury. I heard it last week many times, fans booing injuries at times that made absolutely no sense for it to be a faked injury or even when a player had spent a couple minutes being tended to.
Booing itself is not the problem, it’s a part of being in a gameday crowd. Feel free to boo bad calls, long commercial timeouts, or the opposing team as a whole. Hell I’ll be booing with you. But instead of booing a player for doing what he’s told, pressure and shame the coaches into stopping and the NCAA into fixing the problem, and that means not booing when a player goes down.
You can say “oh I’m booing the coaches when I do that” but there is no nuance in a boo. You boo while a player is down and all anyone will ever see is someone reveling in the pain of an opposing player.
Please stop booing injured players.
Bonus: Bad Bet
You already know what time it is, my bad bet of the week is this beautiful 12-team parlay that will most likely be wrong at literally every level.
Send me hot, cold, or like icky mushy/warm takes to @STSouthland, @JuanFabulous, in the comments below, or to my email at firstname.lastname@example.org and try to keep them Clemson, or ACC, or CFB related.