October 23, 2017

#ThrowbackThursday – Rodney Blunt Dives for 6 vs South Carolina (1991)

ThrowbackThursday – In 1991 Rodney Blunt dives for a touchdown as Clemson beats South Carolina 41-24..

Consider the times when thinking about the video quality.

Upon Further Review: Syracuse

Outplayed and outcoached, it’s as simple as that. Have to say that was the worst all-around performance by a Clemson team that I have seen in some time. Here’s to hoping they got it all out of their system, kind of like 2016’s version against Pittsburgh. Massive credit to Syracuse, as they clearly studied and prepped to nullify and make Clemson’s defensive aggressiveness work against them. On the other end, props to the Orange on quickly recognizing Bryant’s limited mobility and attack a rather one-dimensional offense. Mentally absent? Bodyclock off due to a Friday evening game on the road? Fatigued from a 6th straight week of football? All of the above?

Anyways, lets get into the film and try to bear with the pain for another round:



First drive of the game. Why does it look like Clemson’s linebackers are playing with weights around their ankles? Sleepwalking early on. Missed gap and no urgency from DOD or Joseph to get involved.



A tackle that has to be made to force Syracuse to only 3 points. Instead, it’s a TD and momentum swings early.



Right side of the line pulls, opens a massive hole for Feaster to push through. Clemson inexplicably went away from the run game following this HUGE hole and subsequent touchdown, even though it would’ve made life much easier for the hobbled Bryant.


Communication on the offensive line has to be better. Both RT and RG pick up the blitzing defender, leaving the DE with an open shot on KB.



There haven’t been many coverage busts this season, but Dungey plays Tanner Muse out of position with his eyes. Hard to understand why Muse is favoring the left side of the field when there’s trips right.



Kelly Bryant shows his hand and Syracuse knows they don’t have to honor his legs anymore. Time to bring the heat.



Clemson runs read option on third down, but Syracuse already knows that Bryant isn’t a running threat. Odd playcall and it gets stuffed.




More poor communication leaves Bryant exposed to a big hit. 5 linemen pick up 4 Syracuse rushers.



More read option action, this time Syracuse goes right after Rodgers knowing that Bryant won’t keep.



The problems that Syracuse’s tempo can give, particularly when your a defense that often adjusts after seeing a formation. No time for Venables, call comes in late and Syracuse takes advantage of Clemson’s confusion.



Tough assignment for Clemson’s secondary as they faced the best receiving corps they have all season. Even tougher when being placed on an island against talented receivers. Venables brings a heavy blitz here on third down, leaving Mullen alone on Ishmail. Really hard to defend this.


Great design against an overly aggressive defense. With Clemson biting hard on the screens, Syracuse had their TE fake as if he was going to block, then turn upfield. Beat Clelin Ferrell the first time, and went back to the well again against Isaiah Simmons.


This is the moment in which Bryant really showed his lack of health. Typically a mobile guy who enjoys scrambling to avoid sacks, he gets rid of the ball as soon as possible to avoid any sort of physical contact. Follows that up by hobbling away from the play. In my opinion, this is time that Kelly needed to be removed from the game.




I know quite a few people were clamoring for Hunter Johnson on Friday night, but I’m not so sure Clemson wins even if he plays. That, and looking back Zerrick Cooper filled in rather respectably. Not perfect by any means, and I think his in game touch needs some work, but overall made some good reads and showed a very live arm. Solid job going through progressions below. Short throw, but Hunter Renfrow makes an absurd grab for the first down.


Cooper’s best throw of the nights. From the left hash to the sideline, this throw takes a LOT of arm strength to get there that quickly.



Really unbelievable lack of effort here from Clemson’s defense outside of K’Von Wallace. Unsure if dead legs or what, but nobody seemed intent on taking down Dungey, particularly #2 Mark Fields.



Syracuse finds their top receiving threat in man to man against a safety. Advantage Ishmael. Good recognition of the corner blitz by Dungey.


Clemson pulls linemen around to the outside again, similar to Feaster’s touchdown. This time it’s a giant hole for Travis Etienne, and we all wonder why the two guys who busted long TD runs were given a total of 12 carries. Criminal.



Another strong throw from Cooper, this time on the run. Would like to see Clemson’s screen game in the hands of Cooper or Johnson. Much more effective with a QB with a quick release and strong arm.



Would love to know what’s going on here. Third and long, game on the line, and man-to-man coverage is providing significant cushion downfield. Interested to know if this type of coverage was the coach’s call, or Fields just inexplicably giving cushion. Looks like Mullen up at the top of the screen is playing much tighter.

CU in the NFL – Watson leads league in TD passes, Mike Williams with 1st catch, Goodson pacing defenders

Current stats for former Clemson Tigers in the NFL.

C.J. Spiller has been signed (again) by the Kansas City Chiefs.

Offense (Skill Players) and Special Teams

Defense and OL

As always, please notify me of errors, omissions and changes.

Don’t Stop Believin’

Friday the 13th in the Carrier Dome, what could possibly go wrong?

Well, for the Clemson Tigers a lot did. From the opening drive, it was easy to see that Clemson was just mentally not there. Throughout the duration of the game, not once did Clemson lead. After a Syracuse touchdown on their opening drive, the Tigers answered quickly. Tavien Feaster broke through the Syracuse defensive line for a 37-yard touchdown. Just before halftime, Clemson trailed 14-17 and was attempting to score to gain momentum heading into the locker room. Kelly Bryant took a lick and hit the ground hard. He was helped off the field and diagnosed with a concussion. The Tigers would then fail to score an offensive touchdown until late in the 3rd quarter.

Clemson quarterback Kelly Bryant (2) breaks free. Photo: Gwinn Davis

A  major question that must be addressed, why did Bryant even start? He clearly was not 100% and you could tell in just the first few drives. Without having the ability to run Bryant effectively the play calls were limited. The offense turned rather one dimensional and stagnant. If the play-calling was that limited; why did Bryant even start? Another glaring issue is why Cooper played the rest of the game. Clearly, the coaches trust Cooper, but at what point do we begin to wonder when they keys will be handed over to Hunter Johnson as the #2. When on the field, Johnson seems to have more control over the offense than Cooper has. Time will tell whether a change in the depth chart will happen. A bye week is much needed and will help the team to be able to regroup and refocus.

Clemson running back Travis Etienne (9) Photo: Gwinn Davis

With 6:16 left in the third quarter Travis Etienne flashed to a 52-yard touchdown run and tied the ballgame up at 24. After a Syracuse punt with just under four minutes left in the third, the Clemson offense had a chance to take its first lead of the game. A sack put the Tigers in a second and long. Two plays later the field goal unit was on the field. Alex Spence, the backup thrust into the starting spot since Greg Huegel injured his leg, missed a vital three points. The following drive for the Orange was about to stall with an incomplete pass on third and nine, but a pass interference call handed Syracuse a drive changing first down. The drive lasted 16 plays and took just over six minutes off the clock, and Syracuse took a 27-24 lead. On the Orange’s final drive of the game, they were pinned at 3rd& 11 and 3rd & 8 and converted both. A lack of effort and drive allowed Syracuse to hold onto the ball and run the clock out. Time expired, and the Orange had stunned the Tigers.

As ugly as the loss was, Clemson still controls its own destiny. If the Tigers win out and claim their 3rd straight ACC championship they still have a very good shot at the playoff. This loss was a humiliating one, but I can almost guarantee it won’t happen again. This coaching staff is too good, and this team is too talented. Clemson will be just fine and the world will keep on turning. I believe in this team, and I believe in this coaching staff. It will be very interesting to see how this team responds to this type of adversity. Either way, we’re living in the golden years of Clemson football, enjoy it.

Advanced Metrics: Syracuse 27 Clemson 24

Advanced metrics from Syracuse’s upset win the Carrier Dome Friday.

Film Preview: Syracuse

Another road night matchup for the Tigers, this time on short rest. In recent meet-ups between the two teams, Clemson has filled up the scoreboard, and tomorrow should be no different. Let’s start off with look into Syracuse defensively.

When Clemson has the ball:

The Orange have improved on the defensive side, I’ll give them that, but still struggle to get great push without the help of extra defenders. In addition, the defensive line has suffered several injuries and depth has become a major concern, especially when fatigue sets in late. But the biggest thing that stood out to me watching this team, is how often they got beat deep on the backend. The secondary really has problems when the QB has time in the pocket. Friday night is a fantastic opportunity to open up Clemson’s vertical game a bit.

Syracuse corner beat badly off the line below:


Time to throw and the Syracuse corners get beat once again. This really ought to be an opportunity for Cain to show out with his speed.


Safety steps up and the corner gets easily beat.




Deep ball success.


Syracuse brings heavy pressure this time, but LSU is ready with the RB leaking out. With the Orange blitzing nearly 50% of plays, we may see Feaster get more involved in the passing game.


As for Syracuse’s run defense, they often sell out to stop the run with constant blitzing. However, there’s been some success against them, particularly if able to get to the outside, which may be prime for Etienne.




When Syracuse has the ball:

So this Syracuse team is actually fairly fun to watch on offense, particularly because they move with crazy tempo and pass nearly every single play. They like to spread you out, often in 5 wide sets and get the ball out quickly. The bad part about getting the ball out quick and for short gains is that you have to march your way down the field. Something that doesn’t successfully happen often against Clemson’s defense.

Regardless, their dual-threat QB Eric Dungey and talented receivers, Ishmail and Philips, should make the Syracuse offense vs Clemson defense an enjoyable battle.

To quickly go over their run game, the vast majority of it is simply designed runs or scrambles from Dungey:



Moving into the passing game, Dungey’s favorite target is the quick and agile #3 Ervin Philips. Syracuse loves to use him against zone defense where he can get into a soft spot, or in man against a defending linebacker. If it’s open, Dungey will relentlessly feed him the rock. My assumption is that Venables will likely drop DE’s into the zone spaces to try and take away Dungey’s first and easy option. Syracuse’s OL isn’t strong enough to hold the pocket long, and Dungey has the habit of panicking once his first read is gone.


Philips gets cushion.


Philips comes up and sits in the soft spot.


Yes, they did this all day against LSU.


Using Philips’ quickness in space:


And when Syracuse does try to get a big more vertical in the pass game, they target the talented Steve Ishmael. My guess is that Ishmael sees Mullen with safety help over the top.





Clemson – Syracuse Win Probabilities

Win probability for Clemson Friday night vs Syracuse.

Head to Head: Inside the Numbers of Clemson vs. Syracuse

Head to Head: Inside the Numbers of Clemson vs. Syracuse

Offensive and Defensive Points Per Drive by Starting Field Position

A look at the offensive and defensive points per drive by starting field position through the first 6 games.

The defense has given up only 51 points on 75 drives when opponents start on their end of the field.


On the offensive side, it’s interesting to note that the team often does better when it starts farther away. For example starting between the 10 and 20 yields 2.7 points, but starting between the 40-49 averages only 2.4 points.  These are small sample sizes, in general, so think of these as guidelines vs. absolutes.


#ThrowbackThursday: Tajh Boyd throws for 5 TDs in route of Syracuse in 2013

Tajh Boyd throws for 455 yards and 2 touchdowns as Clemson blast Syracuse 49-14 in 2013.