The number of plays Clemson’s offense runs. Obviously, the more the better. The Tigers are averaging 82 plays per game this season and it doesn’t take a rocket genius to see that when the offense is “on” it churns out plays, chunks of yards, scores and wins.
Despite averaging 200 yards a game on the ground this is not a grind it out for four quarters offense. The number of plays, and hence more opportunities for big plays, is paramount.
To further complicate this equation, look for Spurrier to employ a ball control offense in an attempt to limit the Tigers possessions. Last season, in Columbia, the Tigers only ran 60 plays and were totally dominated. Possessions are at a premium and the chances of the Tigers duplicating their 18 offensive possessions from the North Carolina State game is 0. This further emphasises the importance of third down conversions, limiting turnovers and scoring touchdowns instead of field goals.
Run 60 plays again and the Tigers have no chance. 70 plays gives the Tigers a 50/50 chance. Every play over 70 is crucial in my estimation and improves the Tigers odds of winning.
If the Tigers hit the magic Malzahn number of 80 that tells me one of two thing has happened and both are good for Clemson. Either the game has turned into a “shootout” (both teams over 30) or the Tigers have a comfortable lead and the offense is clicking.
I’ll take either of those scenarios, if offered.
So, for the first time in my life when Saturday night rolls around I’ll be counting snaps.