August 27, 2014

Episode 20: Brandon Rink talks fall camp, QBs, OL, Peake’s health, cornerbacks and more


Brandon Rink joins me to discuss the Clemson fall camp, quarterbacks, offensive line, Charone Peake’s health, Nickels and SAMs, cornerbacks and more.

You can also download current and previous episodes and subscribe to the Podcast via iTunes by clicking here.

Thanks to Brandon for participating and Clemson graduate Adam Eargle for the podcast artwork and all SUR graphics.  Need a graphic artist? Check out some of Adam’s work here.

The Way Back Machine: Jim Phillips Calls Treadwell Field Goal to Beat UGA in Athens (1986)


In less than 2 weeks the Tigers will be in Athens to face Georgia.  While we impatiently wait for that day and game, here’s a blast from the past: Jim Phillips calling David Treadwell’s game winning field goal in Athens circa 1986.

Jim Phillips voice is part of the reason I became a Tiger fan and ended up at Clemson.  I spent many hours in the front (and back) yard of my house pretending to be a Clemson Tiger with Jim Phillips making the calls.

Fond memories that return every fall about this time.

The Effect of Explosive Plays on Defense

Robert Smith

VenablesIt’s a well known fact that the Clemson defense has given up more than it’s share of big plays over the last few seasons, but the graphics below shows just how much the plays have effected the Tigers defensive numbers.

Of 918 competitive plays (3 kneel down plays were excluded) the Tiger defense gave up 102 explosive plays (11.1% or 1 of every 9 plays).

However, that 11.1% of plays accounted for 57.7% of yards given up as the graphics below indicate.

Red slices are explosives and blue are all other plays/yards.

Explosive Plays on Defense

To put that into context a bit, the Clemson offense had an explosive play on 14.8% of their plays which accounted for 56.3% of their yards. Opponents had a smaller % of explosive plays, but those plays accounted for a higher percentage of total yards.

Put another way, Clemson known for it’s explosive offense, averaged 24.7 yards per explosive play while opponents aveaged 26.2 yards per explosive play.

Any way you slice it, the Tigers have got to do a better job of cutting down on the number and yardage given up on explosive plays.

2013 Offensive Explosives By Game


Clemson Football - Cole StoudtThe chart below shows Clemson’s explosive offensive plays for the 2013 season. This is something that I’ll track, compare and contrast to this season – the Tigers first in 3 years without Tajh Boyd, Sammy Watkins and Martavis Bryant.

2014 can be viewed as a referendum on the Morris offense and whether it’s “the system” or “the players”.

While Sammy Watkins doesn’t come along every day, I personally think there’s not much of an argument. It’s the system AND the players, the players AND the system. You wouldn’t see the numbers of the last 3 years in the Billy Napier offense even with Watkins, Boyd and Bryant and you wouldn’t have seen 6,000+ yards per season under Morris without Boyd, Watkins, Bryant and others.

2013 Explosives by Game

The numbers exclude 12 “Team Rushes” (aka “kneel down” plays) that were non-competitive.

The 2013 Georgia game is a great example of the importance of explosive plays.  The 9 explosive plays Clemson had that night accounted for 269 of the Tigers 467 total yards (53.3%).  The other 65 plays accounted for 218 total yards (3.4 yards per play).

2013 Opponents Success By Down

Stephone Anthony 42

The concept of successful and non-successful plays is not a new one, but one we’ll track during the season on both sides of the ball. As stated in the linked article success is defined as 50% of needed yards on first down, 70% of needed yards on second down, or 100% of needed yards on third or fourth down. It helps to describe a team’s ability to stay on schedule and avoid obvious passing downs and third and long when the odds of gaining a first down are smaller.

The same idea can be applied in reverse to defenses.  Defenses that are successful on first down force their opponents into more predictable play calling on 2nd and 3rd downs thereby reducing the offenses odds of gaining a first down.

Using this theory one could argue that first down is just as important, if not more, than third down.  A team stops their opponent for a 1 yard gain on first down, which leads to a pass on 2nd and 9 which falls incomplete, bringing up a 3rd and 9 where another pass falls incomplete and the defense is credited with a 3rd down stop.

Which play is more important, the first down that forced more predictable play-calling and reduced the odds of the offense getting a first down or the third down that had little chance of success?

2013 Defense Success by Down Chart

2013 Defense Success by Down Graph


Of the 921 total plays by the Clemson defense, 918 of them were “competitive”, meaning they were not “Team Rush” (aka “kneel downs”) type plays at the end of games/halves (which is why the numbers don’t exactly match the “official stats”).

Clemson showed a remarkable consistency across downs in 2013 on the defensive side.  The numbers above indicate that almost 65% of the time opponents faced 2nd and at least 6 (assuming a first and 10).

I believe the first and second down defense was just as important as the third down defense.

2013 Defensive 3rd Downs

Vic Beasley

Below are the metrics for third downs for the Tiger defense in 2013. While the overall numbers are good – 30.8% – it’s interesting to note the anomalies in the data such as 3rd and 4 (small sample size), 3rd and 6 and to a lesser extent 3rd and 8.

These numbers include goal to go situations so that made a difference on 3rd and 4, where opponents were 3 for 3 on goal to go situations, but only 2 for 5 otherwise.

Overall opponents were 4 for 8 on third and goal situations against Clemson in 2013.

2013 Defensive 3rd Down Conversions Graph2013 Defensive 3rd Downs Chart

Here’s a look at the tackles made on third downs and those (“Stopped” column) that resulted in the opponent being stopped on third down. In short, every tackle (8 of which were sacks) Vic Beasley was a part of on third down meant a 4th down followed.

The difference in third down production between Beasley and Corey Crawford is notable.

Finally, the chart also shows that replacing Spencer Shuey may be easier said than done. Shuey had more primary stops on third down than any other Tiger and perhaps this means Shuey was attacked more on 3rd down, but nonetheless he forced just one less 4th down than Stephone Anthony did with the same number of overall opportunities.

3rd Down Stops 2013

Explosives – Back and Gone

Mike Williams

Zac Brooks GeorgiaOne of the story lines from spring and into the opening of fall camp is the notion that Clemson’s 2014 offense won’t be as explosive as the previous 3 versions under Chad Morris.  The Tigers lost 72.7% of their explosive rushes, 59.4% of explosive receptions and 89.6% of explosive passes from 2013.

Where do those explosives come from? I’m not sure and a talent like Sammy Watkins doesn’t come along every day, but we would be wise to remember that in some regards the Morris offense made Sammy and Tajh just as much as they made the Morris offense.

Will the explosiveness be at the same level as last year? This is something I’ll be tracking as the year progresses and we should have a decent idea right out of the gate as the Tigers first two opponents this year are the same as last.


2013 Explosive Rushing Plays2013 Explosive Receptions2013 Explosive Passes by QB

That said, the returning players above will be given additional opportunities and naturally this will lead to an increase in their explosive output.  The freshman class is talented, if inexperienced, just like Watkins and Bryant were in 2011.

I’m not sure if the Tigers reach the 2013 level of explosiveness, but I’m confident Morris will mold the unit into one of the top offenses in college football when all is said and done.

Episode 19: Playoffs? You talkin’ about Playoffs?


Brandon Rink joins me to discuss second half of the 2014 Clemson schedule that includes Boston College, Wake Forest, Syracuse, Georgia Tech, Georgia State and South Carolina.  We pick winners and losers and one of us opines on Clemson making the inaugural College Football Playoff.

You can also download and subscribe to the Podcast via iTunes by clicking here.

Thanks to Brandon for participating and Clemson graduate Adam Eargle for the podcast artwork and all SUR graphics.  Need a graphic artist? Check out some of Adam’s work here.

2013 Defensive Play by Play Data


I’ve uploaded the defensive play by play data for 2013 here.  There are some anomalies and strange things in the data so if you have questions you can either reply to this post or email me at

The intent is to track this data moving forward much like I do on the offensive side and the data will be used when I begin my weekly post on in August.

I’ve also included a link on the “Clemson Play by Play Data” page.

Episode 18:Brandon Rink talks first 6 games of schedule


Brandon Rink of joins me to talk Georgia, S.C. State, Florida State, North Carolina, N.C. State and Louisville and we both pick winners and losers.

You can also download and subscribe to the Podcast via iTunes by clicking here.

Thanks to Brandon for participating and Clemson graduate Adam Eargle for the podcast artwork and all SUR graphics.  Need a graphic artist? Check out some of Adam’s work here.