Fifteen times Clemson started drives in opponent’s territory and came up with 0 points in 2011. No touchdown. No field goal. Nothing. 15 times. Once per game on average. That’s a lot.
It’s one of the biggest differences between Clemson and their opponents last year. When taking over in plus territory opponents scored touchdowns 61% of the time and field goals 17% of the time, meaning opponents scored in some fashion 78% of the time in this situation.
Contrast that with Clemson, which scored touchdowns 37% of the time and kicked field goals 20% of the time for a total of 57% scoring.
On some level it’s hard to fathom Chad Morris’ offense not being successful in these situations. The first question is why. Does the play calling change? Is Morris more conservative? Is it a problem with the offensive line?
I don’t know the answers to those questions.
What I do know is that these numbers need to improve in 2012 for Clemson to be successful.
Compare the ratios below between Clemson and its 2011 opponents. Clemson’s TD rate improved only 10% when starting in the opponent’s territory. When the opponent started in Clemson’s territory the touchdown rate almost tripled.
The other angle on this is how important it is to not give up the ball in your own territory, be it by turnover or getting pinned and punting. However, opponents only started 18 drives in Clemson territory, so the numbers suggest two things:
- The Clemson offense needs to improve the rate of scoring when they take over in plus territory.
- The Clemson defense needs to do a better job of stopping these drives, as they averaged giving up 4.78 points per drive when the opponent began in plus territory vs. 1.70 drives per game when the drive began in minus territory.
This will be an interesting trend to watch over the course of the 2012 season, to see if there is any difference in the Morris offense from year 1 to year 2, and to see the difference between Kevin Steele’s defense and Brent Venables defense.