After watching South Carolina dispatch Clemson like a rented mule I was pissed. Pissed because losing to South Carolina is just unacceptable. It was apparent early on in the ball game the Clemson coaching staff did not care, they were not interested in the outcome of this game in the least. It is not a big deal to them that people have been defending them during this four game nightmare as this team flounders.
We were fed the all of our goals are still out there, we will get it fixed, this is the biggest game of the year and come out with the effort they came out with Saturday? This Clemson team did not have a chance in this ball game, in spite of the numerous opportunities the Clemson defense gave the offense, especially in the second half.
I am not making 180k a year to coach football so anything I write is merely theoretical thinking but I am going to write it any way because football is a simple enough of a game that a team like South Carolina can play basic football and kick its opponent’s ass up and down a field for 6o minutes.
Everyone and their mother knew Clemson was not going to be able to block the South Carolina front four, especially on deep drop back passes. There are things you can do against an athletic front four. You can max protect, you can roll your quarterback out, use the screen game or utilize the three-step drop to get rid of the ball quickly. We basically saw none of this in the Clemson game plan.
If you cannot block a team rushing four on five and seven steps drops then you have to switch it up. Please feel free to do something. Is not the definition of insanity trying the same thing over and over after getting the same result, thinking it will somehow change? For some reason, this team has linebackers who are coached not to read and attack the line of scrimmage. For some reason this team has a secondary who could not slow down a Pop Warner team because of its dependence of man coverage. For some reason this team does not know that fundamental tackling involves wrapping up, playing with low pad level and running through the ball carrier.
While we the fans and supporters are made to be morons, while we are being lied to why should we care? I am honestly trying to figure out why in the hell am I so freaking pissed off when I am a fan of a team who’s coaching staff failed their team. If Coach Swinney fails his team and thinks it is ok then there is no reason for me to defend this coaching staff or to get upset over something I had no direct involvement.
There is a difference is losing and getting beat. These guys are getting beat up and down the field. This is a team that has no confidence whatsoever, especially on the offensive side of the ball. There has to be a way to get back to basics. I know the coaching staff did the responsible thing by taking Phillip Price out of the ball game but he has to be able to play next week in Charlotte. Get a hyperbaric chamber for him to sleep in, call in a witch doctor. It is terrible how one injury has decimated this team.
Yes I am out of my mind pissed off about 9-3 as should every Clemson fan under the sun. It is not an issue of being 9-3 it has everything to do with what has transpired in the process of getting to this point. Momentum and confidence are a huge part of the college game and when you have it, you feel like you can beat anybody, when you lose it, you feel like you cannot beat anybody. That is where this team is at this point.
In the midst of the pain and frustration there is another game to be played next weekend in Charlotte. While Clemson has willingly relinquished the role of state dominance, there is a chance this team could win the ACC for the first time since 1991.
The thought of winning a conference title is almost laughable after what has happened during the last four games of the season but the opportunity is still there. The chance to do something that has not been done in a long time is out there for the taking. I am not sure what this team can do to make that a reality because you will see a carbon copy offensive game plan from Virginia Tech next week. In the same way Clemson is not the same team it was back in early October, the Hokies have found their identity offensively with quarterback Logan Thomas as the table setter.
I am going to say it now, be prepared to see more quarterback runs next Saturday. Thomas is a more physical runner than Connor Shaw but is capable of being just as effective in the running game. The Hokies have running back David Wilson who has put up excellent numbers throughout the season. They have a defense that has held its own despite some key injuries up front and at linebacker.
Silver lining in all of this? Their front four is not nearly as dominant as South Carolina. Virginia Tech regardless of their ranking going into the game on Saturday is not unbeatable but they are confident. They have payback on their mind and it will take an out of body type experience by Clemson next Saturday in order for Clemson to win.
Back in October Clemson won the battle up front on both sides and did a nice job making enough plays on offense to get a huge win on the road. The Clemson defense neutralized Thomas and Wilson was not a factor despite going over 100 yards rushing on the ground. Andre Branch went back to his home state and had a field day in the Virginia Tech offensive backfield.
It is going to take that type of effort if the Tigers have a glimmer of hope in winning in Charlotte Saturday night. Lets face it this defense is not going to stop anyone at this point, not Edwards Middle School, let alone an offense with a mobile quarterback like Logan Thomas. The only hope at this point is to contain Thomas and Wilson and hope they do not make too many plays down the field or this one gets ugly early.
I will be honest. I am not enamored with the Hokies, I am sorry Turkey fans, you do not have a chance to play for a National Title and if you did, you would get your brains beat in so bad, you would need dental records to identify the remains. They are not complex on offense but the Hokies will be facing a defense that allegedly, knew what South Carolina was going to do and how did that work out? They are going to try to get David Wilson going in the ground game on the perimeter. I have never seen a running back run so fast towards the sideline in my life. In order to stop this, Clemson has to be physical up front and the linebackers have to play downhill and force Wilson back inside. (I just laughed when I wrote that but it is the truth)
To be honest unless the defensive staff is prepared to swallow their pride and change things up, play less man coverage, get the linebackers playing downhill instead of taking false steps, Clemson has no chance. All night long the Clemson linebackers were seen taking steps backwards and having linemen in perfect position to make blocks three seconds after the Clemson linebackers had diagnosed the play. I don’t care what level of football you are playing if you first steps are backwards as a linebacker you are done.
Clemson cannot have their back seven running around with their backs to the football while a quarterback is running for 20 yards. You cannot grab at a Division-1 skill player and think you are going to arm tackle them. Tackling is like free throw shooting, it has nothing to do with talent but everything to do with repetition and attention to detail. You cannot run into an opponent and expect them to go down, especially with a low center of gravity like David Wilson and a quarterback with Cam Newton-esque size. Virginia Tech is going to lull you to sleep with the run and then throw the ball down the field to one of their serviceable wide receivers. There is not much else to say other than hope for the best.
Offensively Clemson is a dumpster fire. The Clemson offensive line is softer than down comforter. The offensive line was effective in pass protection for eight games. Their run blocking has been something to be desired throughout and as teams have adjusted what how they play in the secondary, the wheels have slowly come off the ship. You can have the good Lord himself lined up in the backfield or at receiver but if you put the Clemson offensive line in front of Him, even he would have to work overtime to make anything happen.
Tajh Boyd is pressing, he is not accurate, and is lacking in his decision-making. A lot of that comes from running for your life but his pocket presence is horrendous. His inability to step up in the pocket and to show just a little bit of mobility he is done. Opponents are right, if you can put pressure on Boyd he will fold like a tent. At this point given how poorly the offensive line is playing I am calling out Chad Morris.
You have an offensive line that is about as competent as White House Chief of Staff Billy Daley. Instead of being creative with the three step passing game, screen game, rolling your quarterback out, you continue to put him in danger by calling five and seven step drop pass plays that your offensive line is not capable of blocking at this point. I am sorry. It is apparent that if Phillip Price is not effective, this Clemson offensive line is not capable of holding up against a stout pass rush. What is Coach Morris prepared to do to help this offense be successful?
Saturday, Clemson was starting to have some success on the ground and he ultimately went away from it. It was overall a disappointing effort from the coaching staff from top to bottom. Despite the personnel issues, especially on defense, coaches have to put players in position to be successful and unfortunately the Clemson staff failed miserably last week at preparing this team to win.
There is not much to say about next week going against Virginia Tech. There is no reason to believe that the light will come back on for this Clemson team. I fully expect this one to get ugly early. There is no getting around it. This team has lost its mojo and Virginia Tech is not the team that is going to willingly allow you to regain it. I am looking forward to spending time with friends next week but unless this team spends the week with a sports shrink and the coaching staff decides to come to terms with the reality of this team’s current limitations it will be an evening of Hokie Coronation on Saturday night.