NORTHWESTERN COMMAND – It’s been three weeks since Clemson’s loss to South Carolina, so I figure you’ve had a long enough cooling-off period. It’s time to come back to the video room here at Northwestern Command for film study.
Hearing people talk about the loss over the last few weeks, it’s as if Clemson was blown out of the stadium. What’s fascinating is when you go back and watch the video Clemson was more physical at times than South Carolina. … but for some reason Chad Morris got away from his first-half gameplan in the third and fourth quarters.
Clemson center Dalton Freeman said after practice Thursday that he felt Clemson was holding its own in the running game against South Carolina. And there is video evidence to back up this assertion (pass protection is a different story).
The road map for Clemson to beat LSU is not a heavy air assault, or a reliance on a variety of flashy, misdirection plays, the road map might be simply running Andre Ellington over and over again — and then open up the play-action passing game.
VIDEO DOESN’T LIE
This is Andre Ellington’s first run on Clemson’s second drive of the game. Notice the seal Gifford Timothy gets on the outside and the push Clemson’s guards and center created. Ellington does a nice job of accelerating through a wide open lane. This is the first play of a 15-play drive en route to a touchdown. Exactly the kind of drives Clemson wanted.
The easy narrative of the South Carolina loss was that Clemson simply was manhandled at the line of scrimmage … again. But watch Gifford Timothy get a knockdown block on the outside on this Roderick McDowell run, and watch Clemson’s guards and center, again, get a push inside. This is another play from the 15-play first quarter drive.
What’s so baffling is why did Clemson get away from running the ball in the second half?
Ellington had only four second-half carries. And it’s not like South Carolina figured out the Clemson running game. Here’s Ellington’s first run of the second half.
Again, the way to compete with LSU is through an effective ground game that sets up play-action pass calls.
And Boyd can make accurate downfield throws when he has time.
Clemson also got away from its quick passing game. Some of this was the South Carolina defense trying to take away Sammy Watkins. But some of this was getting away from Brandon Ford. If USC is focused on DeAndre Hopkins and Watkins, then someone has to have favorable matchups. Notice Boyd get the ball out on time. Three steps. Throw.
Instead, Clemson often tried to open things up with the passing game in the second half which resulted in second- and third-and-longs and USC pressure. Notice Jadeveon Clowney come on the twist here and force a Boyd interception.
Boyd didn’t make as many poor decisions this season as he did in the second half of last season. But this was one of his worst decisions of the season: making a blind throw deep down the middle of the field when his presnap read showed two deep safeties.
Boyd can still get better in this area as a senior.
LSU’s talent on the lines should be a concern and focus for Clemson.
But Clemson somehow has to tighten up its secondary play over its remaining bowl practicies. Yeah, LSU QB Zack Mettengerger hasn’t been great but Clemson made Dillon Thompson look like Dan Marino. This play (video above) sums up Clemson’s defensive issues: no pressure with front four, poor coverage and then no tackling from the secondary.
Mettenberger could be a difference maker unless Clemson improves in the secondary. Getting back Bashuad Breeland should help. And the coaches are doing the right thing by planning to move Travis Blanks to safety next season. This is a move I’ve advocated for quite some time as Clemson’s run support from the safety position was a major liability this season.
INDOOR FACILITY VIDEO
Here’s a link to video of the new Clemson indoor facility. Dabo calls it a ‘gamechanger’
WILL THE ‘GROUP OF FIVE’ BECOME ‘THE GROUP OF FOUR?’
The new four-team playoff is so lucrative for the five remaining power conferences you wonder what took so long. The conferences will each earn $91 million per year when the playoff takes effect in 2014, according to reports that came out earlier this week.
That’s another $6.5 million per program in a 14-team conference.
But if you had four, 16-team conferences, each power-conference program would earn $7.1 million per year.
And you have to think the playoff will grow significantly in dollars – and perhaps teams – over the next 20 years.
What I’m getting at is the playoff presents a motivation for the conferences to continue to cannibalize each other until we arrive at four super conferences.
And moving from 5 to 4 would be a death match between the ACC and Big 12. I still like the ACC in this game because it has geography on its side: no neighbors to the East. The Big 12 can be picked apart from its North (Big Ten) and East (SEC) and West (Pac-12), and too much power is consolidated in one school in Texas. If Texas goes to the Pac-12 or SEC, the Big 12 is finished.
Stay tuned until next summer.