(Note: sorry for the delay in posting this folks but we have launched a new WordPress platform for our blogs. I believe you should be able to comment again.)
CLEMSON – Maybe what we learned Saturday night at Duke is there is simply no blueprint to slow the Clemson offense.
Defenses are running out of answers and turning to desperate measures.
What Duke attempted on Saturday night – man coverage with average athletes and little safety help – was fraught with risk and certainly didn’t work as Tajh Boyd and DeAndre Hopkins strafed the single-coverage.
Florida State showed that if you have a talented front four and future NFL players at cornerback you can press cover and keep two safeties deep and stop Clemson for a series or two. Still, Clemson scored 37 points on the road in Tallahassee in its only loss of the season.
Bud Foster’s Virginia Tech defense was able to creatively bring pressure and gave the Tigers some trouble, though the Clemson offense still scored 31 points in a win.
“I’ve pretty much seen them all,” said Boyd of defenses. “That’s a great part about playing in this system where defensive coordinators try to figure out how (to slow us) by mixing and matching, which helps me out because I’ve seen most the looks.”
Clemson averaged 37 points per game in 1900. The modern record is 34.7 points per game in 2000. Clemson is averaging 42.7 points per game.
Clemson scored a program-record 470 points last season – in 14 games – but is on pace to break that mark with 554 points this year in 13 games. The Tigers are also on pace to break the yardage record set last season.
In the second year under Chad Morris the Clemson offense has reached another level of production and has become a more consistent unit.
Can anyone stop Clemson?
A team with superior front four talent can slow any offense. That’s what will make the Nov. 24 meeting with South Carolina so fascinating. Strength vs. Strength. Can’t wait.
10. I wrote last week that Clemson needed to focus on margin of victory and run up scores when possible. Why? The polls mater this November in college football. Clemson can’t control its schedule but it can control how it performs. It can influence voter opinion via the scoreboard. Clemson has outscored its last two opponents 98 to 33.
Said Tajh Boyd: “Style points matter.”
They do when Clemson is eyeing an at-large BCS berth.
9. A few weeks ago I also wrote that I though Chad Morris needed to take more deep shots regardless of coverage. He called his most aggressive game of the season Saturday night due to Duke’s coverage and the results were pretty darn impressive.
Great stat from @seldomusedrsrv: Tajh Boyd vs. Duke on throws of 21+ yards: 8 for 11, 285 yards, 4 TDs, 2 Ints
8. The other big thing is Clemson continues to prove it is a more matured, focused team. I know we can get tired of hearing about the “playing to standards” talk but the fact is it is important. That’s what great teams do. And I think we’ve seen the culture of the Clemson team change this year. One key is that Boyd has really emerged as a key leader.
7. The only negative for Clemson in this offensive explosion is you have to wonder how long Chad Morris and DeAndre Hopkins are going to stay around. Hopkins didn’t discuss his future plans after the game Saturday but it is difficult o imagine him coming back for his senior year. How can he perform any better than this? Three touchdowns in a quarter for the second time this season? Silly numbers.
7a. I’ve been told by a source Morris is unlikely to leave Clemson this season because he does not want to uproot his family. But I’m hesitant to place too much stock in this. If the right head coaching job is there most assistants are not going to turn down that opportunity.
6. Credit the offensive line with bouncing back the last couple weeks after being porous against Virginia Tech. Protection was key against Duke’s pressure packages in taking advantage of the single coverage and the Clemson line held up for the most part. Now, Duke is one thing, South Carolina will present a different test.
5. Martavis Bryant is going to help pick up some of the slack when Hopkins does leave. Bryant is averaging nearly 30 yards per catch for his career.
4. Spencer Shuey has brought a different level of physicality to the middle linebacker position. It’s going to be difficult for Stephone Anthony to get his starting job back.
4a. Think about Clemson’s 2011 recruiting class. Of the four five-star recruits only one is a difference maker (Watkins).
3. We saw freshmen Zac Brooks and Isaiah Battle play late on Saturday, still I think it’s fair to question these decisions not to redshirt. (And Tony Steward)
2. Apparently Andre Ellington is OK. Good news for Clemson which doesn’t have another difference maker in the backfield.
2a. … But the one thing that does lessen Clemson’s vulnerability at running back is that Boyd is just such a better runner this year. Boyd had 388 total yards of offense in the first half Saturday. Yes, another program record. Chad Morris said he almost looks fast.
1 Clemson’s defense has been better the last three weeks but it is also hard to evaluate against this competition. Still, there were some missed tackles and busts Saturday.
STAT OF THE WEEK
718 – total yards of offense, just off the program record of 756 set in 1981 vs. Wake Forest.
HE SAID IT
Boyd on putting up big scores:
“The thing is, with the type of situation we’re in, style points matter. The BCS, that’s what our goal is. We just have to win out these last three games.”
HE SAID IT II
Chad Morris can’t really say Clemson left yards on the field, can he? Not after this game.
Morris: “We knew they were going to press us up and take our chances and we were going to have to protect (Boyd) and be able to hit on some of our shots. And we were able to do that.”
NON-FOOTBALL RECOMMENDATION OF THE WEEK
I might have said this last week, but go purchase Mumford and Sons’ new album Babel. Great listen