The above numbers total to 28 carries for 250 yards – 8.9 yards per carry – for Ellington against Georgia Tech. Besides the obvious obnoxiousness of those numbers, Clemson is going to need to run the ball against Tech to keep the Jackets offense off the field for at least some portion of the game to provide a respite for the Clemson D. Sure, there’ll be plenty of Boyd to Hopkins, Watkins and Ford, but when the time comes Ellington needs the ball in his hands at least 22 times. Throw in a few, well-timed, runs from Boyd, 4 or 5 from Watkins and the Tigers chances of winning are greatly improved.
Despite quiet games against Ball State and Furman, Andre Ellington is averaging 103 yards per game. At his current rate Ellington projects to 1,339 yards and 15/16 touchdowns (assuming 13 games). Not a bad year, but not the number Ellington needs to become the all-time leading rusher.
Ellington didn’t play in the Georgia Tech game last year and that is an important factor in the Tigers favor on Saturday.
Assuming Sammy Watkins is back to 100% it’ll be interesting to see how he is used in the running this game, especially with the loss of D.J. Howard. We saw Watkins line up in the backfield and run from a more conventional position several times against Florida State and I would expect to see more of that this week.
Rod McDowell also continues to contribute, benefitting the most from the injuries to Howard and the absence of Watkins. McDowell’s 3 touchdowns on 21 carries is impressive and two of those weren’t necessarily cheap touchdowns, coming against Auburn and Boston College.
How McDowell is used this week with the absence of Howard and the return of Watkins is another interesting subplot and will be a window into the amount of trust the coaches have in him.
Of course, defenses now have to account for Tajh Boyd in the running game as Boyd has become a serious threat – just ask Boston College’s Steele Divitto.
Andre Ellington or, more generally, the Clemson running game.
Yesterday I suggested that Ellington needed to approach 150 yards for the Tigers to be successful in Tallahassee on Saturday. Maybe it’s not Ellington specifically, but the Tigers as a whole that need to reach that number.
Here are three quick facts:
- In the Morris era Clemson is 9-1 when rushing for 150 yards or more.
- In 3 of 4 Clemson losses in the Morris era Clemson has rushed for less than 100 yards.
- In the Morris era Clemson is 0-3 in true road games when rushing for less than 100 yards.
Translation: It’s not earth shattering news that Clemson needs to run the ball on Saturday. Whether that’s Ellington (and Howard/McDowell) with a few selected runs from Boyd, or Sammy Watkins on the jet sweep is an open question. But just remember, despite having Tajh Boyd’s arm, Nuk Hopkins and Sammy Watkins, the Clemson offense is designed to be an offense with a power running game and that needs to be on display in Tallahassee.
History indicates a one-dimensional Clemson loses.
One of the bigger questions in Saturday’s Clemson vs. Florida State match up is can Clemson run the ball against the talented FSU defensive line?
My question is will we see the Andre Ellington of Auburn (228 yards) or the Andre Ellington of Ball State and Furman (100 yards combined)?
Obviously, blocking matters and we’ve been told that the Clemson offensive line is healthy despite injuries to Giff Timothy, David Beasley and Tyler Shatley at one time or another. It remains to be seen if this group can stay healthy and that’s important considering the drop off that occurs from the 1s to the 2s, with the possible exception of Shaq Anthony.
Rushing-Game 3 –
Ellington ran hard against Auburn, something that seemed to be dialed back a notch or two in the last two games. Perhaps that was by design and, if so, this is the week to dial back up.
Clemson needs Ellington to approach 150 yards rushing and also a few timely, well-placed runs from Boyd to have a chance.
The receiving stats are obviously skewed by the absence of Sammy Watkins for the first two games coupled with only 38 snaps against Furman.
Still the numbers, particularly for Nuk Hopkins, are eye-popping. Boyd to Hopkins has a completion ratio of 89.66%. Hopkins 68.97% successful play rate is also outstanding. Most of the other wide receiver numbers are pedestrian.
Receivers-Game 3 –
Brandon Ford can make the spectacular catch from the tight end position as evidenced by his touchdown against Furman, but a 60% completion ratio and two drops in 15 chances gives pause to the thought of targeting Ford more than 3 or 4 times in a game where every play is likely to be important.
The running backs have been non-existent in the passing game with the exception of a lone pass to D.J. Howard in game 2. That means they’ve been targeted 1 time in 113 passes. Could we see that change Saturday? I think so. Maybe not a lot, but it’s one more wrinkle for Morris to offer up.
Boyd’s been close to spectacular through three games, completing 73.26% of his passes with only 1 interception. There have been some close calls though and one wonders if, for example, the pass that Martavis Bryant snatched for a touchdown against Furman, would be an interception against the Seminoles. Those are the split second decisions that Boyd will have to excel at on the road in raucous and unfriendly atmosphere this week for the Tigers to be successful.
Passing Game 3 –
- Notes compiled while watching Clemson dispatch Furman 41-7 on Saturday.
- Was it me or did the offense not look as crisp as they did against Ball State? Perhaps it was the ball control played by Furman to start the game, but the tempo just didn’t seem “Clemson-like”, until the second drive of the second half.
- Any hopes Ellington had of breaking the school rushing record likely died on the grass in the Valley yesterday afternoon. Remember those that said “all” he needed was to average 115 yards per game?
- Let’s hope the offensive linemen are healthy for this coming Saturday.
- Major coverge issues in the secondary. Major.
- How long before Bradley Pinion is the punter? It won’t happen this week because of being a freshman and the game being on the road in Tallahassee, but my guess is that in the coming weeks Pinion will win the job – if he remains consistent. Pinion has a huge upside.
- Sammy Watkins had an incredible burst on his touchdown run.
- Anyone else notice that Charone Peake disappeared yesterday? He didn’t have a pass thrown his way until the last minute or so of the 3rd quarter (when the score was 34-7) and ended the day with 1 catch for -1 yard. I get it, Sammy was back, but still a bit curious.
- In a year and 3 games Martavis Bryant has 11 catches for 282 yards (25.6 per catch) and 4 touchdowns.
There wasn’t a whole lot to be gleaned from Saturday’s demolition of Ball State, but here’s a few points:
- Spring and Fall talk about players being improved or bigger, faster and stronger is often just that – talk. However, one player that had a lot of talk about him in the spring and fall and is definitely bigger, stronger and better is NukHopkins.
- Tajh Boyd was throwing missiles.
- Cole Stoudt got extensive playing time and looked like a solid backup. I still question if he is a fit for this offense, but Stoudt is a solid #2 QB.
- Andre Ellington’s bid for the Clemson rushing record took a hit yesterday. It was just the type of game that he didn’t need – a blowout with few yards for him.
- On the other hand Tajh Boyd pulled to within 9 TD passes of passing Charlie Whitehurst. This one will happen.
- It also looks like Nuk will leave Clemson as the all-time receptions leader (assuming he is back next year) as his 6 receptions pulls him to within 89 of Aaron Kelly’s Clemson and ACC record.
- Rod McDowell looks like a different player, albeit in a backup role.
- The coaches know better than me and I understand the depth issues, but I think Zac Brooks needed to redshirt. He just doesn’t seem ready for the speed of the game.
- Lots of experience gained on both sides of the ball and with the specialists.
- Injuries continue to mount along the offensive line as they do every year, big and small. Just something to keep an eye on.
- We are only two games in, but…the defense doesn’t appear to be consistent. Good play on one play, then gaping holes for two or three plays in a row.
I was one of the those that thought there was no way that Andre Ellington could break the all-time rushing record at Clemson. This is not a knock on Andre, who I’ve said repeatedly is one of my favorite players. 1,612 yards is a lot. For anyone. Trying to accomplish that behind a largely inexprienced offensive line added to the odds against this happening.
But Andre damn sure is trying. What a performance on Saturday night in Atlanta. The revised stats show 228 yards on 25 carries.
Before the season I pegged the chances at 1 or 2% that Andre breaks the record.
Now? I still say the chances are remote. Improved, but still remote. Remember, one injury to the offensive line, which is bound to happen, and the Tigers may struggle on the ground. A tweaked hamstring or turned ankle could mean the end to this pursuit. One game of 40 or 50 yards and it’s going to be tough to make that up.
Add in the fact that once Sammy Watkins returns he is going to get 2-3 carries a game, which may reduce Andre’s carries by 20-25 over the year.
I’m pulling for Andre. He’s a great kid and a largely underrated running back.
3,966 is still a long way off, but at least now you can see it. It’s attainable, but it’s going to take some luck, the right circumstances and a relentless pursuit to make it.
- Wednesday we gave you the six most important stats in college football. Clemson had better numbers in 5 of the 6 on Saturday.
- I picked Brandon Ford as the Clemson player to “Keep and Eye On”. Ford had 5 catches for 51 yards and 2 official dropped passes while being targeted 9 times in 35 attempts in the game. Four of Ford’s 5 receptions went for first downs and 1 was an explosive play of 22 yards.
- Clemson had 12 drives in the game and only 1 three and out.
- The trend continues – but this time with success. The Tigers faced 2 third and 1′s and 1 fourth and 1, ran Ellington all three times and were successful on all three plays. Under Morris Clemson now has run on 3rd and 4th and 1 39 consecutive times.
- Andre Ellington was a man.
- Tig Willard was all over the field with 8 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, a sack and a fumble recovery.
- Josh Watson was another player who seemed to be in the middle of every play. Watson finished with 5 tackles and a forced fumble.
- We’ve talked endlessly about the way the NCAA counts red zone stats and this game was a perfect example. The official stats show Auburn scored all three times they entered the red zone. They did – they were all field goals.
- The much maligned Clemson defense held Auburn to 4 of 13 on third down conversions. Some of that was due to Frazier’s inconsistency, but still very encouraging.
- Speaking of the defense, I’m not sure I’ve seen receivers as open as Auburn’s were on several occasions. Worrisome.
- Anyone else think this is the Chad Morris’s final season at Clemson?
At the risk of overexposing readers to Andre Ellington posts, I wanted to do one final one on the numbers I think Ellington reaches this year.
There are some out there that think Andre breaks the all time rushing record at Clemson despite the fact that he needs over 1,600 yards to do so. Despite the fact that Andre’s per yard average has decreased in each of his first three years. Despite the fact that Ellington is notoriously injury prone. Despite the inexperienced offensive line Clemson will field.
I just don’t see it.
Being injury prone not only means the likelihood of another injury occurring is fairly high, but also that coaches tend to pull you out in blow outs, reducing the chances that you will get garbage time carries and yards needed to reach the magic 1,612 yards.
I went back and looked at Ellington’s history and estimated the yards he would gain this season against the Clemson schedule. It’s not necessary to include all of the details here, but suffice it to say Ellington has a two game history against some teams on the schedule, 1 against others and none against some (as a starter). He has huge averages against some (Maryland, Georgia Tech), paltry ones against others (North Carolina and N.C. State), and decent against others (South Carolina, Auburn and Virginia Tech). All this to say – I took an average and while the team by team averages don’t always make sense, in the big picture I think the over all average works out fine.
Using this method, I come up with 1,151 yards in 13 games (89 yards per game) for Ellington in 2012. This number accounts for removing Ellington in blowouts and time missed with “nagging” injuries.
With an ACC Championship game the total would be over 1,200. Either way, it’s nowhere near the 1,612 needed.
A reader asked if I could look at taking out some of the “patsy” games from the Ellington stats posted on Monday to give us a better idea of how Andre stacks up against better competition. The reader specifically mentioned 3 teams – Troy, Wofford and Boston College. For the analysis below I decided to include Boston College because while they were not stellar (70th in total defense and 59th against the run) they are an ACC team and defense was the least of their issues.
So below you will first see Ellington’s stats including all 14 games.
Next are Ellington’s stats excluding Troy and Wofford.
Ellington Detail 2 –
The numbers are very similar. The yards per carry are .3 higher if you include Troy and Wofford, but the first down, touchdown and explosive play rates are remarkably similar, with the touchdown % actually being noticeably higher.
The other noticeable trend here is that in games excluding Troy and Wofford Ellington’s per yard average was a bit lower than over all 14 games, but it increased in every quarter.