Four keys to a Clemson victory on Saturday. They may seem obvious, but that doesn’t make them any less important.
40 or more rushing attempts
Despite the hype and circus like atmosphere around the Clemson passing game the rushing game is the most important facet of the Tigers attack, or at least the one that correlates the most to victories.
Not only does the number of rushes correlate highly to wins, but there is a definite trend when you look at the number of rushes in wins and losses in the Chad Morris era.
In wins, Clemson averages 45 rushing attempts a game and in losses only 30.
Which comes first, the chicken or the egg? Does it really matter if you rush the ball because you’re winning or you’re winning because you rush the ball? Either way you’re winning.
Run at least 75 plays
I’ve documented that the number of plays run for college football teams as a whole means very little. Winners and losers run close to the same number of plays on average.
The same is not true for Clemson. In wins the Tigers average 83 plays while averaging only 67 in losses. We all remember what happened in the South Carolina game when the Gamecocks played keep away in the second half on their way to victory.
Contrast that to what happened to LSU in the 4th quarter of the Chick-Fil-A Bowl as the Tigers were on their way to running 100 plays.
If you look up and Clemson has run 15 plays total and it’s the middle of the 2nd quarter it’s time to panic.
Holding Georgia to under 40 rushing attempts
In wins Clemson holds opponents to 38 rushing attempts, but in losses that number jumps to 49. Holding Georgia to less than 40 rushing attempts would go a long way towards winning, while every rushing attempt over 40 by Georgia will push the Tiger defense further into the danger zone.
Georgia is very efficient on offense, but they’re not a high tempo team and with two outstanding running backs the potential is there for long, sustained, clock-eating drives.
Minimum of 28 Minutes of Possession
For some fast paced offenses time of possession means little, but for Clemson it means quite a bit. Under Chad Morris the Tigers have averaged 30 minutes and 33 seconds of possession in wins and only 22 minutes and 55 seconds in the 6 losses.
For Clemson the magic number is at least 28 minutes of possession. Under Morris the Tigers are 14-0 (FBS teams only) when possessing the ball for 28 minutes or more and 5-6 when possessing the ball for less than 28 minutes.
Clemson has never had more than 27 minutes and 6 seconds of possession in a loss with Morris as the OC.
This stat relies on the Brent Venables defense as much as it does the offense. As mentioned above, if Georgia is able to put togeher long, sustained, clock eating drives the odds of a Clemson victory are slim.