Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Grading the Keys to Victory: Georgia Tech

Win 1st Down
Offense
Clemson was 13-19 on third downs. The six third downs that weren’t converted started with the following results on first down: Incomplete pass, No gain, Incomplete pass, Holding penalty, Loss of 2 yards, and Gain of 2 yards. You’ll notice every drive that stalled began with a negative or neutral first down play. More than that, three of these possessions stalled inside the 10 yard line. While the Clemson offense was prolific, better execution on first down could have resulted in at least another 8-12 points.

Conversely, on Clemson’s touchdown drives, their longest third down conversion was 8 yards, other than their final drive when Boyd had back-to-back scrambles on third and long.

Defense
Georgia Tech was 5-11 on third downs. The six third downs that weren’t converted started with the following results on first down: Loss of 3 yards, Incomplete pass, Gain of 1 yard, Gain of 1 yard, No gain, and Loss of 2 yards. Again, every drive that stalled began with a negative or neutral first down play.

Conversely, on Tech’s touchdown drives, their longest third down conversion was six yards.

Offensively, Clemson performed very well on third downs while defensively, Clemson was feast or famine. When they had success on first down, they were typically able to stop their offense.

Offense Grade: A-
Defense Grade: C

Score Early
While Clemson didn’t put points on the board on their first series, they were able to strike gold on their second, which put them in front. Unfortunately, the defense was unable to allow them to build a double digit lead and a comfortable cushion; however, the offense did what it needed to do.

Grade: B

Take the Points
With three possessions stalling inside the 10 yard line, Dabo had tough 4th down decisions.  And there had to be moments where he wanted to roll the dice and go for it.  But he didn't and Clemson walked away with 9 sure points.  Those 9 points was Clemson's lead through most of the 4th quarter, and because Dabo took the points, GT needed two scores to win rather than a touchdown.

I only wish Dabo didn't have as many decisions to make, especially inside the 10.

Grade: A+

Don’t Panic
We knew Tech was going to run the ball, and we knew Tech would have success running the ball. The goal was for Clemson to not panic and be ready to play the next play. However, much like the first down numbers, the Tech offense was all or nothing. When Clemson made a stop on first down, they seemed to get some momentum and make some stops. When Tech had success on first down, Clemson seemed to get down on themselves, not thinking they had a chance to get a stop.

Ultimately, Clemson rose to the occasion with a safety, blocked field goal, and two stops on fourth downs, though more success is always welcomed.

Grade: C

Feed the Crowd
The Clemson fans were waiting for a chance to get behind the entire team. Not just the offense, but the defense as well. The first half offered few chances to celebrate both units and the crowd energy suffered. In the second half, Boyd & Hopkins hooked up to put Clemson ahead, which ignited the crowd.  And the defense followed suit. And when the defense forced the safety, the crowd finally rose to their feet in unison.

Even with the prolific offense, the defense still rules the roost. When defense is playing lights out, then the crowd is truly into it. When the defense suffers, so do the fans. And for Clemson to make Death Valley a brutal place to play, the fans need to be into it, which means the defense needs to give the fans something to cheer about.

Grade: C

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