December 13, 2018

#ThrowbackThursday – Louisville 2014

Clemson vs. Louisville 2014 – Clemson wins without an offensive touchdown as Adam Humphries takes a punt back, Gary Peters blasts Reggie Bonnafon and the defense makesa late goal line stand.

Burgeoning Clemson – Louisville rivalry is what makes college football greatest reality show ever

I was one of the few in my circle who thought Louisville joining the ACC was a good thing for the conference.  My reasoning was simple and strictly about what was happening on the field (or court), not academics or off the field transgressions of varying degrees.

This week, Clemson and Louisville face off for the fourth time with the first three having been drama-filled, edge of your seat, what-college-football-is-all-about games.

A refresher: In 2014 freshman sensation DeShaun Watson was injured early, the Tigers struggled offensively and never scored an offensive touchdown.  Yet Adam Humphries returned a punt for the Tigers first score, Grady Jarrett (interesting aside, Clemson shows Tavaris Barnes scored, ESPN says Garrett) recovered a fumble for the second and Ammon Lakip kicked 3 field goals for 23-17 Clemson lead late in the fourth.  With the Cardinals 81 yards away from the goal line with 1:20 to go things were looking good for the orange and white.

That changed in one play as Will Gardner found James Quick (who has played a huge part in two of the three games) who quickly headed for the Tiger end zone and a certain game-winning touchdown. Enter Jayron Kearse who tracked Quick down at the Clemson 8. Four plays and a DeShawn Williams hand later, Clemson had a goal line stand and a win. A rivalry was born.

The 2015 season found Clemson travelling to Louisville on a Thursday night on the Tigers run to the title game.

A low scoring first half turned into a battle to the end as Clemson nursed a 20-17 lead late into the game.  The Cardinals drove the field, but missed a 38 yard field goal that would have tied the game with 2:28 to play.  On the ensuing possession the Tigers couldn’t move the ball, were forced to punt and Louisville had one last chance. A last gasp Hail Mary was intercepted by Jadar Johnson and round 2 belonged to the Tigers.

The 2016 version was a high scoring affair as eventual Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson led his team back from a 28-10 halftime deficit to a 4th quarter lead, only to be outdone by Clemson’s own Heisman candidate who found tight end Jordan Leggett, who then wound his way through the exhausted Cardinal defense for the go ahead score with 2:14 left.

It wasn’t over yet, though as Jackson and Louisville found themselves facing a 4th and 12 at the Clemson 14 with 33 ticks left on the clock. A wide open James Quick (the same James Quick that Kearse tracked down in 2014) sprinted toward the first down marker, only to be sidetracked and waylaid by Marcus Edmond a yard short of the marker.

Three games, three fantastic finishes, three Clemson wins.

The tradition and history of Clemson vs. Florida State resides at the top of ACC rivalries and the Clemson schedule as a whole, as it should.  You don’t erase decades of joy, frustration, rivalry and football lore with three compelling games and no idea of how long it will continue, and it’s not like the last three Florida State games haven’t been classics in their own way.

Perhaps my appreciation for this game is colored by it being next in line or Clemson winning all three games. Maybe I’d feel differently with different outcomes, but this game has become one of my favorites on the schedule.

Sure, 56-3 games are part of the season and playing traditional rivals is a huge part of what makes college football what it is, but the 3 Clemson-Louisville finishes are what makes college football the greatest reality show ever invented.

Episode 4 airs Saturday night.

Then versus Now: How the 2016 Tigers stack up against the 2013 Tigers


With Clemson’s Fiesta Bowl matchup versus Ohio State just days away we’ll take an in-depth look at how this year’s team compares to the 11-2 team from 2013, who capped their season with an Orange Bowl victory over Urban Meyer’s Buckeyes. This piece will provide a snapshot at both the similarities and differences between two of the best teams to ever play at Clemson.






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Recruiting Rewind

I ran this feature nearly a year ago, and after registering another top 10 recruiting class it only makes sense to revisit the accumulation of talent under Dabo Swinney’s reign. And with several weeks before Spring football gets underway hopefully this feature will serve to appease you football nuts looking for a small fix.

Clemson fans have been awfully spoiled with the abundance of talent acquisitions since Swinney was named head coach back in 2008. Numerous facility upgrades, an emphasis on social media, the implementation of “Clemson Google”, a relentless effort from the staff, and on the field production have all combined to put Clemson on the map as a priority destination for the nation’s best prospects. The 2016 class is a prime example of Clemson’s newfound national appeal as the staff was able to nab pledges from 2 of the top 3 players out of Kansas. The Tigers also hold verbal commitments from Ohio, New Jersey, Florida, Georgia, and Indiana in the 2017 class. This sort of national appeal is not something we’re akin to seeing around here.

Former head coach Tommy Bowden did a respectable job of bringing in talent during his tenure, but under Swinney’s direction this program has taken a step up to the elite tier in the recruiting world. There is enough talent stockpiled on the current roster that even the second string is littered with former blue chip prospects. And with the Tigers coming off a national championship appearance, expect the staff to boost their recruiting efforts even more in the 2017 and 2018 classes.

NOTE: I’m going to start with the 2010 recruiting class, since the “Dandy Dozen” in 2009 was a patchwork class after Bowden’s departure. Also, Rivals star ranking system was used.

2010: 21 Commitments
5-Star: None
4-Star: 7
3-Star: 13
2-Star: 1
Average Rating: 3.35
In-State: 7
Out of State: 14
Gems: Vic Beasley (***), Sam Cooper (**), Bashaud Breeland (***),
Busts: Desmond Brown (****), Justin Paker (****)
Other Notables: Tavares Barnes (****), Nuk Hopkins (****), Demont Buice (Transfer), Joe Craig (Transfer),
*Added Crawford & Bryant to ’11 class (Prep School)

2011: 27 Commitments
5-Star: 4
4-Star: 6
3-Star: 13
2-Star: 4
Average Rating: 3.37
In-State: 12
Out of State: 15
Gems: Adam Humphries (**), Grady Jarrett (***), Robert Smith (***)
Busts: Mike Bellamy (*****), Cortez Davis (****), Lateek Townsend (****)
Other Notables: Stephone Anthony (*****), Martavis Bryant (****), Corey Crawford (****), Tony Steward (*****), Sammy Watkins (*****)
*Added Battle & Dodd to ’12 class (Prep School)

2012: 19 Commitments
5-Star: None
4-Star: 8
3-Star: 11
2-Star: None
Average Rating: 3.42
In-State: 9
Out of State: 15
Gems: Kevin Dodd (****), Jay Guillermo (***), Cordrea Tankersley (***)
Busts: Isaiah Battle (****), Chad Kelly (Transfer), Ronald Geohaghan (Transfer)
Other Notables: Carlos Watkins (****), Travis Blanks (****), Bradley Pinion (***), DJ Reader (***), Germone Hopper (****)
*Added Lawson to ’13 class (Prep School)

2013: 22 Commitments
5-Star: None
4-Star: 10
3-Star: 9
2-Star: 3
Average Rating: 3.32
In-State: 5
Out of State: 17
Notables: Mackensie Alexander (****), Ben Boulware (****), Wayne Gallman (***), Jayron Kearse (****), Mike Williams (****), Shaq Lawson (****), TJ Green (**), Jordan Leggett (***)
*Added Priester to ’14 class (Prep School)

2014: 20 Commitments
5-Star: 1
4-Star: 9
3-Star: 10
2-Star: None
Average Rating: 3.45
In-State: 7
Out of State: 13
Notables: Deshaun Watson (*****), Artavis Scott (****), Adam Choice (****), Kyrin Priester (Transfer), Demarre Kitt (Transfer), Korie Rogers (Transfer)
*Did not add JD & Judah Davis (greyshirts)

2015: 22 Commitments
5-Star: 3
4-Star: 9
3-Star: 10
2-Star: None
Average Rating: 3.68
In-State: 6
Out of State: 16
Notables: Deon Cain (*****), Mitch Hyatt (****), Ray Ray McCloud (*****), Christian Wilkins (*****), Austin Bryant (****), Garrett Williams (****)
*Did not add Amir Trapp (greyshirt)

2016: 20 Commitments
5-Star: 3
4-Star: 10
3-Star: 6
2-Star: 1
Average Rating: 3.75
In-State: 3
Out of State: 17
Notables: Dexter Lawrence (*****), Tre Lamar (*****), Shaq Smith (*****), Tavien Feaster (****), Trayvon Mullen (****), Xavier Kelly (****), Cornell Powell (****)
*Did not add Cade Stewart (greyshirt)

Commitments: 151
Average Commits: 21.6
5-Stars: 11
4-Stars: 58
3-Stars: 73
2-Stars: 9
Average Star Rating: 3.47
In-State: 49
Out of State: 102

Make sure you head over to the SUR Recruiting Forum for the latest up to date news.

Recruiting Rewind 2

The All Dabo Team

Editor’s Note: Chris Cox writes about Clemson recruiting on his site Tiger Talk.  You can follow Chris on Twitter at @TigerTalk_CU

DeAndre HopkinsEver since Dabo Swinney took over the Clemson football program as an interim coach on October 13th, 2008 the program has just been, well, different. Swinney’s enthusiasm, passion, and vision have encompassed every facet of the program, leading to success on the football field. He has compiled a 61-26 overall record including 42 wins in the past four seasons alone. Along with an impressive record, Swinney has helped Clemson produce 33 NFL draft picks and consecutive bowl wins over perennial powers LSU, Ohio State, and Oklahoma.Beasley NC State

In order for Dabo to achieve this kind of success, he’s had the help of some pretty good players at his disposal. I take a look at those players, leaving out the one’s currently on the roster, and I think you’ll be amazed at the talent Clemson has assembled over the “Dabo years.”

All Dabo Team (2008-2014)

1st Team: Tajh Boyd
2nd Team: Kyle Parker
Honorable Mention: Cullen Harper, Cole Stoudt

1st Team: CJ Spiller
2nd Team: James Davis
Honorable Mention: Andre Ellington, Jamie Harper, Roderick McDowell

1st Team: Sammy Watkins
2nd Team: DeAndre Hopkins
Honorable Mention: Martavis Bryant, Jacoby Ford, Tyler Grisham, Jaron Brown, Aaron Kelly, Adam Humphries

1st Team: Dwayne Allen
2nd Team: Michael Palmer
Honorable Mention: Brandon Ford

1st Team: Chris Hairston
2nd Team: Landon Walker
Honorable Mention: David Smith

1st Team: Brandon Thomas
2nd Team: Tyler Shatley
Honorable Mention: Antoine McClain

1st Team: Dalton Freeman
2nd Team: Thomas Austin
Honorable Mention: Mason Cloy

1st Team: Grady Jarrett
2nd Team: Bradon Thompson
Honorable Mention: Jarvis Jenkins, Deshawn Williams

1st Team: Vic Beasley
2nd Team: Da’Quan Bowers
Honorable Mention: Ricky Sapp, Andre Branch, Kourtnei Brown, Malliciah Goodman, Tavares Barnes, Corey Crawford

1st Team: Stephone Anthony
2nd Team: Spencer Shuey
Honorable Mention: Kavell Conner

1st Team: Jonathan Willard
2nd Team: Tony Steward
Honorable Mention: Quandon Christian

1st Team: Marcus Gilchrist
2nd Team: Bashaud Breeland
Honorable Mention: Coty Sensabaugh, Crezdon Butler, Byron Maxwell, Garry Peters

1st Team: DeAndre McDaniel
2nd Team: Robert Smith
Honorable Mention: Chris Clemons, Michael Hamlin, Rashard Hall, Jonathan Meeks

1st Team: Chandler Catanzaro
2nd Team: Mark Bucholz

1st Team: Bradley Pinion
2nd Team: Dawson Zimmerman

Current players who would likely factor into this list in the future:
Isaiah Battle (OT), Travis Blanks (S), Mackensie Alexander (CB), Ben Boulware (OLB), Wayne Gallan (RB), Shaq Lawson (DE), Charone Peake (WR), DJ Reader (DT), Mike Williams (WR, Tyrone Crowder (OG), Jayron Kearse (S), Artavis Scott (WR), Deshaun Watson (QB), Korrin Wiggins (S)

Visit the message boards to discuss this & other topics with Clemson fans

Before the NFL

Editor’s Note: Chris Cox writes about Clemson recruiting on his site Tiger Talk.  You can follow Chris on Twitter at @TigerTalk_CU

Over the past week, a total of 14 Tigers have signed contracts to play professional football, 15 if you want to count Daniel Rodriguez’s rookie camp invite to Washington.

While many of us, myself included, get caught up in the new age recruiting world, this article will show you why all these recruiting services aren’t the final authority on a player’s potential.

Just take a look at the two former Tigers who are headed down to I-85 to play in Atlanta. Top 10 pick Vic Beasley is a guy who came to Clemson as a tight end before moving to linebacker and settling in as a defensive end, where he ultimately became the all-time sack leader in just 3 full seasons.  Then you have Grady Jarrett whose size has been well documented during his journey to the NFL. Ranked as a 2-star prospect coming out of high school, Jarrett was virtually unstoppable during his junior and senior seasons in a Tiger uniform.image1

While most of Clemson’s highly touted prospects over the last few years have lived up to their billing, there have bee a couple that rarely saw the field in a Clemson uniform. Guys like Mike Bellamy and Lateek Townsend are examples of highly rated prospects who, for various reasons, could not deliver on their lofty recruiting rankings.

Following recruiting is both fun and important, but when it comes to production don’t be too quick to judge the little guys. Let them strap it up and prove their worth on the field.

Here’s a look at how these NFL players were ranked before they were Tigers:

Vic Beasley-LB
1st Round to Falcons (#8 overall)
247: 3-star, #483 overall, #22 TE
Rivals: 3-star, NR overall, #37 ATH

Stephone Anthony-LB
1st Round to Saints (#31 overall)
247: 5-star, #10 overall, #1 OLB
Rivals: 5-star, #24 overall, #3 OLB

Grady Jarrett-DT
5th Round to Falcons (#137 overall)
247: 2-star, #1416 overall, #100 DT
Rivals: 3-star, NR overall, NR DT

Bradley Pinion-P
5th Round to 49ers (#165 overall)
247: 3-star, #1375 overall, #1 P
Rivals: 3-star, NR overall, #4 K

Tony Steward-LB
6th Round to Bills (#188 overall)
247: 5-star, #12 overall, #2 OLB
Rivals: 5-star, #13 overall, #1 OLB

Tavaris Barnes-DE
Signed FA contract with Saints
247: 4-star, #381 overall, #23 SDE
Rivals: 4-star, NR overall, #29 DT

Corey Crawford-DE
Signed FA contract with Redskins
247: 4-star, #193 overall, #14 SDE
Rivals: 4-star, NR overall, #20 SDE

Kalon Davis-OG
Signed FA contract with Broncos
247: 3-star, #712 overall, #35 OG
Rivals: 3-star, NR overall, #34 OG

Adam Humphries-WR
Signed FA contract with Buccaneers
247: 2-star, #1579 overall, #201 WR
Rivals: 2-star, NR overall, NR WR

Garry Peters-CB
Signed FA contract with Panthers
247: 3-star, #324 overall, #22 CB
Rivals: 4-star, NR overall, #20 CB

Robert Smith-S
Signed FA contract with Colts
247: 2-star, #1480 overall, #109 S
Rivals: 3-star, NR overall, NR ATH

Cole Stoudt-QB
Signed FA contract with Chargers
247: 3-star, #711 overall, #24 PRO
Rivals: 3-star, NR overall, #21 PRO

Josh Watson-DT
Signed FA contract with Broncos
247: 3-star, #5 JUCO, #1 JUCO DT
Rivals: 4-star, NR overall, NR DT

DeShawn Williams-DT
Signed FA contract with Bengals
247: 3-star, #628 overall, #49 DT
Rivals: 3-star, NR overall, NR DT


Visit the message boards to discuss this & other topics with Clemson fans

Defensive Line – Snaps Lost and Coming Back

Defensive lines like the one Clemson sported in 2014 stem from talent, recruiting, “want to”, coaching and perhaps some patience as raw freshmen turn into seasoned vets. It’s a never ending cycle in college football and while the Tigers have pieces returning along the defensive line the losses are significant.

Many wonder who will replace Vic Beasley.  I wonder who will replace Grady Jarrett.  Undersized, undervalued and underrated, Jarrett was the heart and soul in the middle of the top rated Clemson defense.  One piece of evidence of Jarrett’s domination can be found in the number of times he was responsible for stopping an opponent on 3rd and 4th downs. DL Snaps 2014

Final 2014 Defensive Success Rates – Total, Rushing, Passing

Success rates for Clemson opponents by game by type of play.

Interesting note, after struggling a bit against the pass in the first four games, the Clemson pass defense held 7 of their last 9 opponents to 25.7% or lower in the passing game.
2014 Football Defensive Success All 13

2014 Football D Rush Success 13

2014 Football D Pass Success 13

Peters, Jarrett lead way on 3rd and 4 downs

The data below is taken from the defensive play by play and shows tackles, assists and passes defensed when an opposing team did not gain a first down on 3rd or 4th down.

3rd and 4th Down D Final

Third Down Defense by Distance

Clemson is currently ranked 3rd nationally in 3rd down defense. Here’s how the Tigers stack up by distance on opponent 3rd downs in 2014.

3rd Down D by Distance 2014 12 Chart3rd Down D by Distance 2014 12 Graph