Sunday, September 23, 2012

Sunday Afternoon Thoughts

After a short sleep and some good-natured ribbing from the church folk, here are a few thoughts on Clemson’s loss to FSU:

Special teams were a mixed bag
  • Field goal was money from 50 while FSU missed two makeable attempts
  • Punting team was above average
  • Kickoff units were terrible. Not sure if Clemson was short kicking on purpose, but it hurt the field position battle much more than it helped. Even when Clemson tackled the returner, the feeling that FSU was close to popping one abounded.
  • Kick return units did little to help the Clemson offense. Watkins nearly broke one effort, but the other return attempts left Clemson inside the 20

Clemson offense was better than expected
  • Touchdowns on first two possessions was a great start
  • Watkins ran well from the pistol formation
  • Ellington ran well, but needed more rushing attempts, especially in the midst of the five straight possessions without a first down
  • Credit to Boyd for not losing his composure. He forced the one attempt to Watkins, but everything else was placed in great positions
  • Wished we would have taken 2-3 more shots downfield, even if it wasn’t there
  • Think Morris got away from his groove in the third quarter thinking he needed to score to keep up with FSU

Clemson defense was worse than expected
  • Obviously not surprising
  • No pressure on Manuel from D-line
  • Linebackers looked slow against FSU speed
  • D-backs struggled playing the ball
  • Zone looked awfully soft
  • Was hoping to see more corner blitzes and other chances on creating pressure
  • Corners looked rough in stopping the run. Tackled upright, almost like they were trying to strip the ball more than just tackle
  • Think some of the issues are because of speed mismatches. Think Clemson will play much better vs a methodical Boston College team

Three plays that changed the game, in order
  1. First FSU offensive play following Clemson getting 14 point lead:
    • Touch pass to FSU slot back that went for 60+ yards
    • This allowed the crowd to get back into the game
    • It displayed the talent gap between FSU offense and Clemson defense
  2. FSU long kickoff return
    • Clemson answered the FSU touchdown with a field goal to stretch the lead back to 10
    • On the ensuing kick, FSU returned a short kick to the Clemson 10
    • Two plays later, FSU scored to cut the lead to 3
    • If Clemson makes FSU start at the 25, FSU still probably scores, but it doesn’t jolt the Clemson sideline the way it did nor does it energize the crowd
  3. Boyd incomplete pass to Watkins
    • On Clemson’s next possession, they are facing a 3rd and 5 deep in their own territory
    • Boyd has Watkins streaking down the center of the field, but they can’t connect. If Boyd is able to lead Watkins a bit more, he would have more separation and could have taken it for a touchdown
    • This was the first of five straight drives with no first downs for Clemson
    • A touchdown keeps the 10 point cushion and may force FSU to do things different offensively

Future expectations
  • Sometimes, it sucks being right. In our season preview (What to Expect When You're Expecting: Season Predictions), we said this D may struggle the first half of the season as they figure out Venables system. Unfortunately, this looks to be the case. Hopefully they figure it out soon
  • I think Clemson learns much from this game and it helps them next week against BC
  • I don’t think Clemson has a hangover effect like they did vs Auburn in 2010
  • Clemson – GT looks like another shoot-out and could spell trouble for this defense
  • Clemson fans need to stand behind this defense. They know how bad they were. They don’t need the fans piling on

Check back often this week as we’ll spend a few columns breaking down the game and seeing how this plays out going forward.

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