October 31, 2014

Quarterback Comparison Through 8 Games

Clemson vs South Carolina State during the fourth quarter at Memorial Stadium in Clemson, S.C.

By now most Clemson fans have made their choice and the split is probably somewhere along the lines of the last election in Beijing, so the information below may not mean a whole lot in the big picture or change any minds.

That’s fine with me, because I don’t see my role here as changing minds, but rather providing information that assists individuals forming an opinion while presenting both sides of the argument.

The numbers below heavily favor Deshaun Watson, that’s no surprise to anyone with two good eyes (or a monitor and keyboard).  In particular, the red arrows are intended to point out differences that are significant in my mind.

QB Comparison 2014 8C

Seven red arrows and six favor Watson, with the exception being the average defense faced. That’s not an insignificant category in my mind, but often gets glossed over in the hysteria and hope that Watson brings Clemson fans.

There’s no doubt Stoudt has faced the tougher defense on average, including 3 quarters against then #1 Louisville and an entire game against #11 Boston College (and most of Georgia, too).

If you’re interested in knowing how I get those numbers here’s the thumbnail: NCAA rankings.  These rankings change from week to week and I change them each week.  You don’t get credit for playing #1 Louisville if they end up say, #6 (which they are today).  Each drive is weighted, meaning if Stoudt plays 12 drives against Georgia and Watson plays 3 drives against Georgia, that will have more of a positive effect on Stoudt’s average defensive ranking than Watson’s.

Rushing Metrics – 8 Games

Gallman Syr

There was some good news in the ground game against Syracuse.  Sure the numbers in the charts below looked better, but the eyeball test, especially on the last 15 play, 8:17 second drive to run out the clock, showed some improvement also.

Cole Stoudt gets a fair amount of criticism for his running game, too and with his success rate hovering just below 30% that makes some sense.  On the other hand, Stoudt has 3 explosive rushes and has managed some nice gains in important situations.

There was a definite uptick in the ground game overall against Syracuse, but I’m wondering if that was a one drive anomaly or a positive sign moving forward.

Kneel down plays are excluded from analysis. Sacks are counted as part of Passing metrics.

Rushing Metrics 2014 8Rushing Success by Game 2014 8

Scott, Williams Leading the Receivers – 8 Games

Clemson wide receiver Mike Williams (7) is tackled in the third quarter.

Mike Williams and Artavis Scott have both been targeted 57 times, but Williams has played 148 more snaps than the freshman.  Scott has been targeted once every 5.8 snaps played and that makes sense considering the routes Scott typically “runs” (runs as in backs up, straightens up and catches a pass behind the line of scrimmage).

Scott’s targets and receptions typically come in bunches and, as Dabo Swinney mentioned earlier this week, he’s used as part of the running game.

Conversely, though he was used close to the line of scrimmage a couple of times vs. Syracuse, Williams is the big play man averaging 21.2 yards per reception and 13 yards each and every time he’s targeted.

Let that soak in for a minute.  When Clemson throws the ball in Williams’ direction, complete or not, the Tigers average 13 yards per play.  That doesn’t even count the yards gained on interference penalties.

Receiver Detail 2014 8

Williams is perhaps the Tiger most effected (besides Deshaun of course) by Deshaun Watson’s injury, because of Watson’s ability to throw deep accurately.

As it is, Williams is averaging 93 yards per game which over a 13 game season would be over 1,200 yards.

Without Watson’s injury 1,500 yards wasn’t of the question for Williams.

Defensive Stops on 3rd and 4th Down – 8 Games


The defense continues to be led by  Gary Peters and Grady Jarrett on third and fourth downs.

In an interesting (perhaps only to me) note, Josh Watson was credited with two passes defensed (both were third downs) from his defensive tackle position in the first quarter of the Syracuse game.Defensive Stops 2014 8

271 Losses for Favorites Since Clemson’s Last

Clemson Upsets LSU

It could happen next week. If not then, surely there’s a chance it happens in Atlanta on November 15, or maybe in Clemson two weeks after that.

At some point Clemson is going to lose a football game in which it’s favored. It’s something that hasn’t happened since November 24, 2012. Since that day the Tigers have taken the field as a favorite against FBS teams 12 times and won each time.

Big spreads, small spreads, medium spreads, the Tigers have won them all. They haven’t all been pretty, covered the point spread or been blowouts, but they’ve all been wins.

During that time 109 teams have combined to lose 271 times as favorites. Big names and nobodies, SEC teams and AAC teams. Upsets, upsets, upsets. Bluebloods, also-rans and “who is that’s” have all been “upset”.

But not Clemson.
Losses as Fav 2014 9Virginia Tech’s demise has been well-documented and often televised. The once vaunted Hokies have lost 6 times as a favorite in this time range. They are not alone.

The PAC 12 – the conference that has become the darling of the media as the second best conference in the country – has two teams that have also lost 6 games each when favored during this time – Southern Cal and Stanford.

Stanford, the team often praised by college football media as a model of consistency has lost 3 times as a favorite THIS SEASON. Southern Cal has also lost 3 times in 2014 as a favorite – 6 times in 9 weeks these teams have been upset in 2014 (including a Southern Cal upset of Stanford).

Alabama, the gold standard for college football teams, has lost 3 times as a favorite in that time.

So, it’ll happen, Clemson fans. The Tigers will lose as a favorite, perhaps this season. When they do the college football world will chuckle, point their fingers and say, “Clemson being Clemson”.

As my buddy Todd Snider says, “Remember, when you’re pointing at someone, there’s 3 fingers pointing back at you.”

Or, in the case of Virginia Tech, Southern Cal and Stanford, 6 fingers.

Editor’s Note: Florida State and Duke are other ACC teams without a loss as a favorite in this time frame.

Offensive and Defensive Success Rates – 8 Games


For four games the defense has been about as steady as it gets.  Counting incomplete passes 31 of 62 Syracuse plays went for 0 or negative yardage.

Kneel down plays are excluded from analysis.

Opponent Success Rates by Game
Success Rate Defense 2014 8 ChartSuccess Rate Defense 2014 8 Graph

On the offensive side, there has been a slight uptick each of the last two weeks.

Kneel down plays are excluded from analysis.

Offensive Success Rates by GameSuccess Rate Offense 2014 8 ChartSuccess Rate Offense 2014 8 Graph

Drive Chart for Cole Stoudt – Syracuse and Season Numbers

Stoudt SYR 2014

Clemson continues to average 1.3 points per drive with Cole Stoudt at the helm along with punts on 49.3% of drives and a 34.8% third down conversion rate.

The offensive woes are obviously not Stoudt’s doing alone.  He is not the one running (for the most part), blocking or catching passes.

Still, it’s clear Deshaun Watson adds something to the offense that hasn’t been there the last 3 games.

Stoudt Drive Chart 2014 8A

Offensive Pace – 8 Games

Clemson football vs S.C. State - Chad Morris

The pace was effected by the last, time consuming, clock-killing drive of 15 plays over 8:17 seconds. Prior to that drive the pace was one play for every 23.5 seconds of possession which would be very similar to the two previous games.Clemson Pace Graph 8BClemson Pace 8 Chart

Stoudt by Distance – vs Syracuse and for Season

Stoudt vs Syracuse

I’ve had some requests to include the most recent game information in this post as opposed to just updated season totals, so here that is.

Also of note is that 19 of 24 completions vs. Syracuse were behind the line of scrimmage.

Cole Stoudt vs. SyracuseStoudt by Distance 2014 Syracuse

Stoudt by Distance 8A

Offensive and Defensive Success by Game

Random Numbers

These graphs confirm the eyeball test: Up and down season for the offense and steady for the defense.

Kneel down plays are excluded from analysis.

Offensive Success Rate by Game

Offensive Success by Game 2014 7B

Offensive Success Chart 2014 7


 Opponent Success Rate by Game

Defensive Success by Game 2014 7B

Defensive Success Chart 2014 7