May 19, 2019

Rushing Metrics – 13 Games

A look at the rushing metrics for Clemson through 13 games.

2 Minute (ish) Video Recap: Virginia Tech

Clemson defeats Virginia Tech 31-17 as Tavien Feaster races 60 yards, C.J. Fuller hammers his way for 6, Dorian O’Daniel mauls the passer on a trick play, then swipes a pick 6 & Clemson finishes a September that’s “never been done.”

2 Minute (ish) Video Recap: Kent State

Two minute video recap of 56-3 victory over Kent State.  Remember who scored the first TD of the season?  And the kid from Louisiana makes his debut.

Rushing Metrics – 12 Games

Metrics for Clemson rushers through 12 games.


Featured image courtesy

Rushing metrics & thoughts – 10 games

Any discussion of the Clemson running game has to begin first and foremost with Kelly Bryant’s contributions in this area of the game.  The numbers below include scrambles that ended up as positive yards, but not sacks.  In some ways that’s unfair and skews the numbers in Bryant’s favor, but the reality is that those scrambles result in hidden yards. Gaining 5 yards on a scramble is really a 10 yard gain because you also avoided a 5 yard loss. Almost 47% of the time Bryant gains 5 yards, he’s broken 30 tackles and, as his 238 yards after contact shows, rarely goes down on the first hit. Oh and by the way – by weighted average he’s face tougher defenses than any of the regulars.

Travis Etienne has been a dynamic and game breaking true freshman that was almost an afterthought in the 2017 recruiting cycle.  Where would the Tigers be without Etienne and his 7.7 per average, 55% success rate, 15% explosive rate (12+ yards) and amazing 367 yards (59% of his total yardage) after contact?  The clip below showcases Etienne’s skills.  He breaks an attempted arm tackle 3 yards past the line of scrimmage, gets free, stiff arms a tackler at the 10 and gains 5 more yards for a 25 yard gain, 22 of which came after contact.

There are calls for more carries for Etienne and less for the others, but it’s clear that Etienne is fresh later in the games and that’s a huge advantage for both Etienne and the Tigers.  Would he be as effective with 22 carries?

Tavien Feaster didn’t have his best statistical game last week.  I’m a numbers guy, but if you look only at numbers you miss the nuances of the game.  Re-watching the game showed me that Feaster ran hard and tough and 17 of his 21 yards came after contact.  He softened up the Seminole defense (7 of his 9 carries came as the Tigers built a 17-0 lead into the 3rd quarter), allowing Etienne (and others) to rack up yards later.  Feaster’s success rate is the lowest of the 5 (including Bryant), but again – his carries typically come in the first half when the defense is fresher.

I’m one of the few on the Adam Choice bandwagon. I completely understand why he’s the 3rd (or 4th) option and he’s certainly not as explosive as Etienne or Feaster. I’m not saying he should take carries from those guys, I’m saying my world doesn’t end when he comes in the game.

Which running back leads the team in success rate? None other than the much maligned C.J. Fuller.  Sure, he only has 38 carries, but those carries have come against the best (on average) defenses the Tigers have played (for running backs). The least explosive of the backs, with a higher stuff rate, Fuller’s not going to get many carries and they’re not going to go for more than 10 yards often.  But if you need 5 or so yards or a reception out of the backfield he’s not the worst option in college football.

The Tigers are flush and full in the running game and that starts with the bruising 6’4, 220 pound Kelly Bryant, filters down to a guy who was given the sacred number 28, then a lightning bolt from Louisiana and “reserves” averaging 5.3 and 4.8 yards per carry. The options are plentiful and they all have their strengths and a few weaknesses. Never did I imagine Clemson would have a starting running back averaging 6.2 yards per rush and there would be calls for him to get less carries, but that’s where the Tigers are 10 games in to 2017.

Success breeds expectations and over the past few years as the Tigers have become a national power the majority of that success coming through the air. Wide Receiver U, 4,000 passing yards, 41 touchdown passes, highlight after highlight after highlight. It was good times and better times and then, in Tampa in January, the best time possible.

Tiger fans know the Tigers have won a National Championship with a pass heavy offense, but now question if the same can happen with the strength of the team being the ground game.

Rushing Metrics – 9 games

Clemson rushing metrics through 9 games.

Have not had time to watch film to include broken tackless and YAC. Hope to catch up soon.

Rushing Metrics – 6 games

Rushing metrics complete through 6 games.

Successful rush:

1st down – 50% of yards needed for a first down OR a TD.

2nd down – 80% of yards needed for a first down OR a TD.

3rd and 4th down – First down or touchdown.

Rushing Metrics: Kelly Bryant is breaking tackles & taking names

Rushing metrics through 5 games.

The term broken tackles doesn’t do justice to what Kelly Bryant did to Virginia Tech.  I counted 9 missed tackles, but there were probably 15 guys he made miss so badly that I couldn’t count it as a “broken tackle”.

Tigers Takin’ Care of Business

It seems as if this is becoming the norm if it hasn’t already. Hype surrounds a massive game that pits Clemson against a ranked opponent. Some analysts and experts doubt Clemson and pick the other team. The game starts, and Clemson begins a dominating performance to silence any critics. It wasn’t too long ago, that a massive game for Clemson was getting past Georgia Tech on a sunny afternoon in Death Valley. Now, dominating ranked teams and playing in title games is a norm.

Clemson running back Tavien Feaster (28) scores.  Photo by GWINN DAVIS

This past week vs Virginia Tech was no different. College Gameday had announced that it would be coming to Blacksburg, VA only to create a more intense atmosphere. It marks the second game of the year that Gameday and its crew had been to a game Clemson has played in.

Enter Sandman blasted out of the PA system, and every one of the fans of the sellout crowd was on their feet. Even with all of the noise, chaos, and energy, the Tigers dominated in a way a defending national champion would. Kelly Bryant threw for 186 yards and a touchdown. That lone touchdown pass came midway through the first quarter. The Hokie defense made a critical error in coverage and Tavien Feaster punished them for it. Bryant hit a wide open Feaster for 60 yards and the games first touchdown. Bryant also led the team in rushing yards with 94 on 19 carries. Just before halftime came the Tigers capped off a 6 play 75-yard drive with a touchdown. CJ Fuller punched it in for the Tigers, and just like that the Tigers are up 17-3 at the half.

Clemson defensive back Ryan Carter (31) Photo: Gwinn Davis

The Tigers offense went a quick three and out to start the second half which allowed the Hokies to remain within striking distance. On the Hokies following drive Dexter Lawrence forces Tech running back Travon McMillian to fumble and O’Daniel recovered for the Tigers. On third and one Kelly Bryant rushed 34 yards to the Hokie 6 yard line and a first down for the Tigers. Three plays later, Feaster walked it in for the Tigers second rushing touchdown of the night. Virginia Tech’s first touchdown of the night came early in the fourth quarter as Sean Savoy punched it in from two yards out.

Clemson defensive lineman Clelin Ferrell (99) and defensive lineman Christian Wilkins (42) Gwinn Davis

The Tigers were up 24-10, but a punt early in the fourth by the Tigers put a little life back into the crowd at Lane Stadium. That life seemed to disappear just a few seconds later when Dorian O’Daniel intercepted a pass from freshman quarterback Josh Jackson and took it 22 yards to the house. The interception return is O-Daniel’s second on the season. The Tigers were out of reach, up 31-10 and fans began to file out. Clemson improved to 5-0 and 3-0 in ACC play.

Shortly after the game had ended Dabo and the team was dancing in an opponents locker room yet again. The toughest remaining game on the Tigers schedule this year will be in Raleigh, NC as the Tigers take on the N.C. State Wolfpack. Although, for now, the Tigers take put their focus on a one-loss Wake Forest team who feels as though they can upset a Tiger team fresh off a huge win in Blacksburg.

But, if there is one thing we know about this Tigers team, its that no one takes them by surprise.

Rushing Metrics

Updated through game 4.

By my count 78% of Travis Etienne’s yards have come after contact.