September 30, 2016

Depth Stars: Clemson vs. Louisville

A look at how recruiting rankings reflect in the starting lineups (Source Photo: Steve Mitchell/USA Today)

A look at how recruiting rankings reflect in the starting lineups (Source Photo: Steve Mitchell/USA Today)


In this segment we’ll take a look at the former recruiting rankings for both teams’ starting lineups. With only the starters listed, this is by no means a comprehensive comparison of overall team talent. Instead, this allows you to simply take a peak into how recruiting rankings represent the key contributors on the field. In this series we’ll be basing the “star” ratings on the 247 Composite rankings, which factors in evaluations from various recruiting services.






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Rushing Metrics – 4 Games


Rushing metrics for Clemson through the first 4 games.
Sacks included, “Team” rushes are not.

A successful rush is defined as:
1st down – 50% of yards needed for first down or a touchdown
2nd down – 70% of yards needed for first down or a touchdown
3rd and 4th down – First down or touchdown

Of note:

  1. Only Deshaun Watson rushed the ball on 3rd down vs. Georgia Tech
  2. Wayne Gallman has only 2 explosive rushes (12+ yards) on the season
  3. Only running backs to carry the ball against Georgia Tech were Gallman and Adam Choice
  4. I expect to see a lot of #4 on the ground Saturday

Here’s more on Clemson’s profile and issues from Bill Connelly at SBNation.  It’s a great read and worth your time. (H/T Matt Wilczewski).

Nic’s Picks – Week 5

Nic's Picks

Week 4 – (7-1)

Total – (21-12)

Week four was a good week, my only blemish was picking the Razorbacks to upset the Aggies in Fort Worth. This week is crazy with more tough picks to make, as there are 3 top 10 matchups and 4 total ranked matchups (as said by the AP). Clemson is hosting Gameday for the 4th time in the last four seasons and 5th time ever, the Tigers are 3-1 in the previous four. The 3 vs 5 matchup is tied for the highest matchup in Death Valley history, unless you want to go by the Coaches poll in which it is a 3 vs 4 matchup which is the highest, but I prefer the AP. Now on to the picks:

#7) Stanford (3-0) at #10) Washington (4-0), Friday, September 30th, 9pm, ESPN – The first of the three top 10 showdowns this weekend takes place on Friday night. It is a big one as the Huskies have risen to national relevance under Chris Petersen, can they slow down Christian McCaffrey enough to get the win and take control of the Pac12 North. McCaffrey had a streak of 8 straight 200 plus all-purpose yard games end in the Cardinal win over UCLA but he still had a solid day. I have seen a few Stanford games and outside of McCaffrey they don’t really impress me so I am taking the Huskies to defend their home turf. Washington 27 – Stanford 20

#14) Miami (3-0) at Georgia Tech (3-1), Saturday, October 1st, 12pm, ESPN2 – Mark Richt makes his first trip back to Atlanta to face the Yellow Jackets, a team he went 13-2 against as Georgia’s head coach. Does Richt truly have GT’s number, or did he have superior athletes while at Georgia? I am going to go with it was a combination of the two, Brent Venables also has their number as he has held that vaunted rushing attack to under 100 yards in consecutive years, Miami will look to duplicate Clemson’s defensive game plan. Kaya and the offense keep rolling, heading into the showdown with Florida State on October 8th. Miami 34 – Georgia Tech 17

#22) Texas (2-1) at Oklahoma State (2-2), Saturday, October 1st, 12pm, ABC – The Longhorns look to have shaken off their let down loss at California in their bye week and get back to form before the Red River Rivalry. Oklahoma State is off to a bumpy, inconsistent start to the season and is hoping to find some consistency on the right side of the win/loss column, I’ve got Shane Buchele coming up big through the air in this one. Texas 45 – Okey State 35

#11) Tennessee (4-0) at #25) Georgia (3-1), Saturday, October 1st, 3:30pm, CBS – The Volunteers finally got the ‘gator off their back this past weekend and now look to make Kirby Smarts first season in Athens get even rockier. The Bulldogs had a good season opening win over North Carolina but have since won twice by 3 total points and then lost by 31 in Oxford, MS. I expect this one to look more like last week for Georgia even at home as I believe that win for Tennessee may have been the one to help them over the edge. Tennessee 41 – Georgia 28

North Carolina (3-1) at #12) Florida State (3-1), Saturday, October 1st, 3:30pm, ESPN – The ‘Noles offense appeared to be on point down in Tampa, the defense may still have some question marks, especially without Derwin James. North Carolina, now 23rd in the Coaches poll but still unranked according to the AP may be hitting their stride offensively as Trubisky had his best performance yet in the ‘Heels comeback win over Pitt last week. I expect a high scoring affair as North Carolina doesn’t have a defense and FSU’s is still MIA as well. Florida State 38 – North Carolina 34

#8) Wisconsin (4-0) at #4) Michigan (4-0), Saturday, October 1st, 3:30pm, ABC – The second of the top 10 showdowns this weekend and it is an epic one. The Badgers look to sweep the state of Michigan in back to back weekends. The Wolverines looks to prove that they are for real. Wisconsin has without a doubt been challenged more through four games than Michigan has but I don’t think it matters here. Michigan takes care of business in the Big House, but it is close. Michigan 24 – Wisconsin 20

#9) Texas A&M (4-0) at South Carolina (2-2), Saturday, October 1st, 7pm, SEC Network – The Gamecocks continue to struggle like most people predicted for this season, at 2-2 I reexamined the remainder of their schedule and I think 4-8 is about right. Yes a couple weeks ago I said that 7 wins was possible and now I am saying it is 4. This week is a loss, as the Aggies proved me wrong in their 45-24 defeat of Arkansas last week, I was expecting a collapse and it didn’t happen and won’t happen this week either. Texas A&M 35 – South Carolina 17

#3) Louisville (4-0) at #5) Clemson (4-0), Saturday, October 1st, 8pm, ABC – And finally the game we have all been waiting for, Louisville at Clemson. Lamar Jackson, the Sophomore QB for the Cardinals has stolen the spotlight that was all about Deshaun Watson in the pre-season and made it be all about him. Louisville as a team has come in and stolen the spotlight from Clemson, the preseason darlings. Well Clemson hasn’t lost yet, they haven’t been as impressive as they were expected to be offensively but the defense has been as dominant as ever. Through 4 games the Clemson offense has scored the exact same as last season, last season it was the 5th game of the season before the offense took off. Deshaun and company looked impressive in the first half at GT but the coaches even admitted that the play calling and offense became a little conservative in the second half. Part of me thinks Clemson comes out and makes a statement in this game and wins by 10+ points, another part still has flash backs to 2013 Florida State game and knows that is possible as well. At the end of the day I think it will be a good back and forth game that lives up to the hype surrounding it and the home team comes out on top. Clemson 45 – Louisville 41


Vegas Confidential – Clemson/Louisville & Points to Ponder

Vegas Confidential

This is a game that you should enjoy watching without worrying about a bet. No real history between the teams and not many trends.

Watson by Distance – Season

Photo: Gwinn Davis/

Photo: Gwinn Davis/

Deshaun Watson by distance for the 2016 season through 4 games.


Clemson vs. Louisville Preview & Prediction

UL Preview


Before the season most pundits had Clemson’s October 29th game in Tallahassee circled as the biggest of the year. Fast forward four weeks into the college football season and it looks like the marquee matchup has arrived about a month early. With two top 5 teams set to tango in Death Valley this Saturday night you can catch up on just about everything you need to know in this week’s preview.


Upon Further Review: Georgia Tech

In this new postgame segment from SUR, I’ll review the tape from the previous week and note what stuck out outside of the highlights. I’ll try to keep everything fairly easy to follow, with the majority of clips being in chronological order of the game. Let’s get to it…


First drive Thursday night was a thing of beauty. Loved seeing Elliott and Scott open up the playbook a bit here with the end around to McCloud. So difficult to defend Watson+Gallman read option with Scott going one direction and McCloud going the other. Also helps to negate offensive line issues by going horizontal.


Slowly but surely, the coordinators are using Watson’s legs in the offensive scheme. Looking at previous games, it almost appears as read options were actually gives to Gallman each time. Now, Watson is starting to pull and it’s opening holes in the defense. Notice both the DE and LB bite hard to Gallman.


More of Watson’s legs. 5-wide, nearly impossible for defenses to cover the receiving threats AND contain Watson as a run threat.


Quite a few near miss TD’s between Watson and Williams, generally falling on Williams’ shoulders. Dime from Watson below and Williams has to help his quarterback out here.



Moving to the other side of the ball, I was quite intrigued by this defensive formation utilized by Venables. Very similar to how BC defended GT earlier in the season, he uses three down linemen, Ferrell playing OLB on the end, and Boulware behind LB’s. Something similar coming this weekend to help defend Jackson?


There’s been offensive line issues throughout the season, continuing into Thursday night’s contest. Perhaps to assist in this, the coordinators ran several designed rollout plays for Watson, who is incredibly accurate on the run. One case below…Watson throws a strike to McCloud and potentially could’ve had a TD if he had noticed Thompson upfield.


3rd and 8, deep in Clemson territory, Hearn and Hyatt have to do better than below.


Defensive clinic.


As much as I’ve harped on the offensive line issues, they do a nice job here to open up a hole for Choice below. Nicely done by Crowder getting to the second level.


Unfortunately Falcinelli has struggled this season when tossed into action. Completely looks away from defender across from him after snap, rough.


Weekly Dexter Lawrence destruction. Power.


Difficult to tell what’s going on here. Looks as though Leggett is supposed to pull and put a block on the DE, yet is too slow to get over and make a play. Hyatt initially looks to the second level before reverting to blocking the DE as well. Either way, another run for little to no gain.


Kendall Joseph continues to impress. Incredible how quickly he gets into the backfield.


Falcinelli gets beat in the trenches again.


Seems as though this toss play has resulted in positive yards gain every time. A great way to find rushing yards when the offensive line is struggling.


Was a tough game for Mitch Hyatt. Gets beat immediately here, forcing Watson to try to escape from the pocket far too early.


Falcinelli in at LG this time, too slow pulling and ends up getting in Gallman’s way.



Phenomenal play design and call here. Fake the effective toss play to Gallman, the DB bites, and Overton find wide open space. Watson simply has to do better here. Executed to perfection outside of the throw.

3rd Down Defense

imageThe Clemson third down defense continued it’s stellar play Thursday and now opponents are 10 of 58 on the season on third downs.

Here’s the break down by distance to go:


And here’s who is making those stops (where a first down is not gained).


And a couple of examples.  First, Dorian O’Daniel sacks Justin Thomas in the third quarter.  The Tigers had 3 sacks and they all came on third down.

Next, Ben Boulware tracks down a Tech running back before he can get a first down.

Receiver Metrics – 4 Games

imageWeek 4 saw an increase in Cornell Powell’s targets. Powell was targeted only 4 times in the first three games combined, but received 7 targets in Atlanta.

Jordan Leggett had been targeted 6 times across the first 3 games, but saw 5 balls thrown his way against Georgia Tech.


Deshaun Watson – Under Pressure Georgia Tech and Season


Deshaun Watson was pressured 7 times on 50 called passes in Thursday’s game at Georgia Tech.  The details are below, but Watson threw 5 passes, was sacked once and had one scramble in these 7 pressures.

A couple of examples from Georgia Tech game.  In the first clip Watson steps up and delivers to Cornell Powell while being tackled.

Next, a long pass to Mike Williams falls incomplete as Watson has a hand in his face and Williams is molested down field.

For the season Watson has scrambled 5 times and gained 4 first downs, but is only 5 of 16 throwing the ball under pressure.