October 17, 2018

CU in the NFL – Offense – DW4 goes wild, Catman hits from Long Island & 134 receptions

The Clemson offensive players (+kicker and punter) in the NFL are done for the week and the numbers are staggering. Five TD passes from Watson, 29 receptions and a 57 yard field goal are among the highlights from Clemson in the NFL.

Featured image courtesy: USA TODAY

CU in the NFL – Stats for Clemson players in the NFL through week 2

Stats for Clemson players in the NFL through week 2.

Stephone Anthony has been traded from the Saints to the Dolphins.

Please let me know of errors and omissions.

Podcast:Brandon Rink of OrangeandWhite.com Talks Clemson/N.C. State

Join Brandon and I as we dodge weedwackers, Mall Cops and yelping cats while discussing Clemson and N.C. State.

  • How will the Tigers replace Charone Peake?
  • What you should know about the “new” N.C. State offense
  • Could a kicker make the difference in this week’s game?
  • Analysis, predictions, a guide to pronouncing the N.C. State kickers name and more in this riveting episode.

Podcast art and all SUR graphics courtesy of Adam Eargle

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Podcast:Clemson/Georgia Preview with Brandon Rink of OrangeandWhite.com

Brandon Rink and I take a look at the key components of the Clemson/Georgia matchup and hazard a guess at which team will ultimately win the game.

Editors Note: Please bear with the podcasting production while my podcasting skills are honed. Your patience is appreciated.

Podcast Art (and all SUR graphics) courtesy of Adam Eargle.

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Rod McDowell – Unsung Hero

Rod McDowell hadn’t made much of an impact in his first three years on campus. McDowell was part of Dabo Swinney’s first recruiting class, the tiny 2009 group that numbered just 12 individuals.

After redshirting that first year, McDowell played sparingly in his freshman and sophomore campaigns, seeing mostly mop up duty behind Andre Ellington, Mike Bellamy and D.J. Howard. McDowell rushed for only 224 yards combined in those first two years.

Through hard work, preserverance, injury and attrition 2012 has been a good year for McDowell. Bellamy transferred, Howard has been nicked up and Zac Brooks continues to be a work in progress.

With no reliable and experienced backup to Ellington the Tigers seemed a tad thin at running back. Seemed is the operative word. McDowell stepped up game after game and including the Chic-fil-A Bowl ended the season with 83 carries for 460 yards (5.5 per carry) and 5 touchdowns.

But more than mere statistics, McDowell did what was needed. Not only did McDowell take part of the load off Ellington, he did it with energy, passion and drive. In short, McDowell ran hard on every carry and played hard when he didn’t carry the ball.

One of the times McDowell didn’t carry the ball was on 4th and 16 with 1:32 to go last Monday night versus LSU.

As Tajh Boyd dropped back, Lamin Barrow, all 6’2, 232 lbs. of him, blitzed and was blowing by Clemson right guard Tyler Shatley. McDowell, started the play looking as if he intended to help right tackle Brandon Thomas, but appeared to see the streaking Barrow headed unimpeded towards Boyd and the end of the game.

McDowell

Barrow is not just a guy (JAG). He had 12 total tackles, including 2 for loss in this game. McDowell quickly veered left and cut Barrow just enough to give Boyd the time to get rid of the ball.

We all know what happened after that.

If McDowell doesn’t make that block, Boyd doesn’t make that pass, Nuk Hopkins doesn’t make that catch, Chandler Catanzaro doesn’t make that field goal and Clemson doesn’t win.

This is a stat focused site, sometimes too much so per my regular readers. Well, I’m here to tell you that no play and no stats accumulated by Rod McDowell in his first 3 years was bigger than that single block, a play for which his statistics were non-existent other than participation.

Lost in the beautiful spiral placed perfectly by Boyd and the sliding catch by Hopkins was the block of a lifetime by a 5’9, 195 lb. reserve running back that was just as important because without it the others never would have happened.

Sometimes I get lost in the statistics and miss the finer points of the game. I watched that play about 10 times before I noticed McDowell’s block.

Shame on me because it was a thing of beauty, just as pretty as a 40 yard spiral and a sliding catch on 4th and 16.

Looking Back – Game 13

Thoughts compiled while watching one heck of a football game as Clemson edged LSU in Atlanta:

  • Tajh Boyd deserves all the credit he gets.  What a game and what a show of courage.  You proved a lot of people wrong Tajh, including me.  Great game and quote of the night – “If you want to be remembered you step up in games like these.”  You will be remembered.
  • Nuk Hopkins with bookend 13 catch performances in Atlanta against two SEC teams.
  • Chandler Catanzaro, I questioned if you were clutch prior to the season.  You had an outstanding season and were clutch last night.
  • People who question whether or not Sammy Watkins should be running the ball show their lack of knowledge of the Chad Morris offense.  It is not a “gadget” or “trick” play.  It’s part of the offense.  This is not the cookie cutter offenses of the NFL, its college football. 
  • Malliciah Goodman – Just wow.  Sure, I wonder where that has been the last 4 years, but I also recognize that you stepped it up several notches last night.
  • The interior defensive line:  A stop on 3rd and 1.  A stop of 3rd and 2.  A stop on 3rd and goal from the 3 which forced a field goal.  A stop on 3rd and 1 to start the 4th quarter.  A stop on 3rd and 2 to get the ball back for the winning drive with under 2 minutes left.
  • Holding LSU to a field goal after the Ellington fumble was huge.
  • I suggested earlier in the week to keep an eye on Boyd’s numbers.  Boyd needed to be efficient and avoid turnovers.  Boyd only averaged 6.9 yards per pass attempt, but he completed 72% of his passes for 346 yards and two touchdowns and had 0 interceptions.  Mission accomplished.
  • Rod McDowell looks like he wants to be a starter next year.
  • Brandon Ford’s athleticism will be missed.  9 catches for 69 yards.  The catch where Ford had to turn around on a 3rd and 11 from the LSU 34 on the last Clemson touchdown drive was spectacular.
  • 100 plays.  Not in my wildest imagination did I think Clemson would run 100 plays against LSU.
  • Boyd with 79 touches on those 100 plays – 50 passes and 29 rushes (including sacks).
  • When running the hurry up a lot of times the time of possession stat means little.  However, Clemson had the ball for 36:21, including 11:26 in the 4th quarter.
  • In the 4th quarter Clemson outscored LSU 12-0, outgained LSU 169 to 1 and had 0 penalty yards to 31 for LSU, ran 32 plays to 6 for LSU and had 12 first downs to 0 for LSU.  Total and complete domination.

A Peek at 2013

Chad Morris

By and large Clemson fans and some of those that write about Clemson assume that 2013 is likely to be the Tigers year – the year the youth of 2011 matures, the year with a senior quarterback who will be in his third year of starting, the year of 4 returning starters on the offensive line and the year that the young defensive line of 2012 becomes a force with some key additions.

I look at it another way, albeit the glass half empty way. I see 40% of the snaps on the offensive line (Dalton Freeman), 70% of the running back snaps (Andre Ellington), 67% of the tight end snaps (Brandon Ford) and, assuming Nuk Hopkins turns pro, 56.3% of the wide receiver snaps departing.

While you can never overestimate the value of a veteran quarterback with nearly 2,000 career snaps under his belt, the questions remain about who is going to carry the ball and can Charone Peake and Martavis Bryant step up from role players to capable replacements for Nuk Hopkins and, to a lesser extent, Jaron Brown.

% of Snaps Returning and Lost in 2013


Returning Snaps
The coaches rave about Ryan Norton at center, but with 277 career snaps (the equivalent of about 3 games) under his belt he has yet to prove himself on the field against ACC level competition – not to mention the likes of Georgia and South Carolina.

The loss of Freeman also means the dean of the offensive line becomes Brandon Thomas who has 1,461 less career snaps than Freeman does.

Sam Cooper performed admirably in spot situations in 2012. It’s difficult to imagine Cooper or Stanton Seckinger being as athletic as Ford, so many fans assume that the coaches will turn to redshirt freshman Jay Jay McCollough. The problem with that is, of course, McCollough has 0 snaps of experience.

Many feel the defense will get better with addition by subtraction, getting better simply because many players perceived as unproductive will be moving on. The Tigers lose only Mallaciah Goodman along the line and players like Grady Jarrett, DeShawn Williams and Vic Beasley gained valuable experience this season.

At linebacker Clemson loses the sparingly used (in 2012) Corico Hawkins and the productive Tig Willard. That’s 53.6% of the Tigers career linebacker snaps between those two.

The defensive backfield has been an enigma all season long. The Tigers lose 6,689 snaps of experience, but you’d be hard pressed to find anyone despondent over the individual losses as the DBs were the focus of busted coverages, long plays, poor angles, bad tackling and general failure of the defense.

Just know this – whatever group takes the field in the Clemson defensive backfield in 2012 is going to be thousands of snaps less experienced than those that took the field this past fall. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, just an observation.

Chandler Catanzaro has me feeling good about the place kicking duties, but there will be zero experience behind him.

Bradley Pinion punted only 9 times in 2012 and was inconsistent in that role much as he was on kickoffs – both areas that need improvement in 2013.

The numbers in the defensive backfield juxtaposed against their 2012 performance shows that evaluating returning starters can be overvalued in some instances.

On the other hand, a similar argument can be made against trumpeting “4 of 5 starters returning on the OL” when the one starter you lose has more snaps than any offensive lineman in school history, accounts for almost 40% of the line’s total experience and makes the offensive protection calls.

These numbers don’t include the inevitable attrition that happens every year during the offseason.  Guys transfer, give up football, face academic or life problems and sometimes get injured (Tony McNeal anyone?).

As with almost every analysis we do here, this should be used as one part of evaluating Clemson’s 2013 returnees with the main point being you can’t just look at numbers (i.e. “4 of 5 offensive linemen returning” or “only lose Jaron Brown and Nuk Hopkins from the WR corps”) and get a full picture of the returning (and departing) talent.

Looking Back – Game 5

Thoughts compiled while watching Clemson beat Boston College on the road Saturday:

  1. Tajh Boyd’s demolition of Steele Divitto on third down was a thing of beauty.
  2. Clemson’s 4 game streak of perfection on 3rd and 4th and 1 ended.
  3. Nuk Hopkins is on pace for 100 receptions.
  4. Chandler Catanzaro continues his perfect year.
  5. Spencer Benton is really inconsistent as a punter and kickoff man.
  6. Garry Peters apparently earned some more snaps.
  7. The defensive line showed the ability to get some pressure on the quarterback (at times) and stop the run.
  8. Remember all the preseason jawing about Martavis Bryant passing Jaron Brown on the depth chart?  All Brown does is quietly go about his business of catching passes.
  9. Where have you gone Malliciah Goodman?

 

Rating the ACC Kickers

We’ve just about analyzed Chandler Catanzaro to death here at Seldom Used Reserve, some would say unfairly.

Searching for an objective way to measure Catanzaro against his peers (other ACC kickers and perhaps the Groza Award List) I came across a simple formula that rewards kickers for made kicks and penalizes them for misses based on a graduated scale.  The longer the made kick the higher the score.  The shorter the missed kick the more negative score.

Distance Makes Misses

00-19

1

-5

20-29

2

-4

30-39

3

-3

40-49

4

-2

50+

5

-1

 

Using this method of scoring kickers Catanzaro edges out Dustin Hopkins of Florida State and these two were far and away the best of the ACC.

FG Scores

This method is not perfect in that it doesn’t take into account many of the various factors involved in a kick – the snap, the hold, the wind, etc. and it’s not designed to.  A quarterback is charged with an incompletion when a receiver drops the ball; a running back is charged with a loss of yardage when the center fails to block the nose tackle.  My view on this is pretty straightforward – you make the kick or you don’t and everything else is superfluous in the long-term.

Is Catman Clutch (Part 2)

Read Part I of “Is Catman Clutch”

A reader made some great points in response to my post on Monday about the issues I was having with Chandler Catanzaro’s kicking. One point he made was simple, but hard to deny – kicking field goals is not easy. Perhaps we shouldn’t assume field goals between 30 and 39 yards are a given or a chip shot.

This thought led me to question my own research and in an attempt to be as fair as possible I decided to compare Catanzaro against two peer groups – the other ACC kickers and his competition on the Groza Award Watch List.

Using 2011 numbers Catanzaro stacks up fairly well against ACC competition, coming in 3rd of 12 (if you count the two Virginia Tech kickers as one) kickers. No one had more attempts than Catanzaro, which given Clemson’s hurry up offense and number of plays run is no surprise. The only two ACC kickers ahead of him were perfect.


ACC Kickers

That said, looking at the Groza list Catanzaro is tied for 21st of 30 kickers. Ten 10 kickers had perfect marks from this range, 12 were better than 90% and 20 were 80% or better. I would argue that compared to this group, Catanzaro is at best middle of the pack and at worst in the bottom 20%.
Groza Kickers

As a group the ACC kickers made 30-39 yarders at a 65.38% clip in 2011, very similar to Catanzaro’s 64.71% for his career at that range. However, the Groza Award list kickers make the same distance kicks at an 83.50% clip. What I take away from this is that while 30-39 yard field goals aren’t as much of a given as I thought, especially in the ACC, the top kickers in the nation make this kick more than 64.71% of the time. Catanzaro hit 77.78% of these kicks in 2011 and if he continues in that range or better over the next two years, my guess is he will leave Clemson with many of the kicking records, but whether or not he is “clutch” is still a question to be answered.