May 26, 2018

Success in short yard situations

Back in August I suggested short yardage situations were like kryptonite to the Superman Persona of Chad Morris as an offensive coordinator.

Not only was the first year under Morris average at best in short yardage (65.4% success on 3rd and 1 and 60.0% success on 4th and 1), but it was also predictable – 36 runs in 36 plays – something that is atypical of Morris.

So, while some zeroed in on the gadget plays and Sammy Watkins lining up in the backfield, throwing passes (plural) and handing off, I paid attention to something remarkable that happened in the second quarter – Morris called a pass on third and 1. Sure, it was a screen pass to a sure handed Sammy Watkins, but it was a pass and it worked.

Technically, the streak was broken earlier when Spencer Benton faked a backwards flip of the ball to Chandler Catanzaro from the holder position before tossing the ball forward to Darrell Smith for a first down. In the official stats this is counted as a pass. On fourth down. It, too was successful.

2012 Short Yardage

But the true measure of improvement is not passes vs. runs, but success vs. failure. In 2012 Clemson has found nothing but success on 3rd and 4th and 1 standing at a perfect 10 for 10 through 4 games, including 3 for 3 on third and 1s against a vaunted Florida State defense.


  1. that is amazing that we ran it 36 times in a row. Amazing. Seems like that comes from the perception/truth that we were a bad 3rd down team and Sweeny/Morris wanted to fix it. We were bad because we did not have a a talented or experienced Oline, which is now better and more experienced and is performing better.

    • Marty Coleman says:

      and it made it to 43 before the fake FG…if Ford was still the coach I would completely understand it…but Morris running 43 straight times on third and 4th and 1? Craziness.

  2. it really is and he has to ‘know’ this because he is a stat freak.

  3. Marty Coleman says:

    Of course the logical explanation could be that he’s called a pass or two, but Tajh audibled to a run. That seems less likely last year with Boyd learning the new offense, but it’s a possibility.

    That’s one reason I decided not to look at pass/run mix much this year – the winning pass against Auburn was a called run that Boyd changed at the line. What we see unfold is not necessarily what Morris has called…

    that being said – 43 straight seems a bit suspicious.

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