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.
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.