Thursday, November 22, 2012

Clemson-Carolina Prediction

In our previous article we laid out five keys to Saturday night’s game:
  • Get in an Offensive Rhythm Early
  • Win Defensive 1st Down 
  • Break Even on Special Teams 
  • Don’t Get Too Emotional 
  • Protect the Football 
And while we spent a number of words telling what Clemson needs to happen, we didn't go into what would happen. To determine how Saturday night will play out, let’s analyze each of the five keys.

Get in an Offensive Rhythm Early
After failing to score on their first two possessions against Wake Forest, Clemson scored touchdowns on their next five to take a commanding lead. The following week against Duke, Clemson scored touchdowns on their first four possessions and six of their first eight. One week later, three out of five and four out of seven possessions (with a defensive score added in). And last week, Clemson scored two field goals and a touchdown on their first three possessions, then stalled for three possessions, then scored touchdowns on six straight possessions, not counting a kneel for the half.

Against UCS, Clemson needs to find that offensive rhythm early to allow the team to relax, put pressure on Carolina’s offense, and keep the crowd engaged. And while I don’t expect the same level of success Clemson had against the previous four opponents, I do expect them to have success. The key will be to see if they can manufacture points if yards don’t come as easy. I think we’ll see Clemson score in spurts, followed by USC defensive success as adjustments are made. The two units will trade positive impacts until the USC defensive begins to wilt.

In the end, I expect Morris to empty the kitchen sink with plays, formations, and motion; and for Clemson to hit the 30 point mark. The question is will it be enough to win.

Win Defensive 1st Down
Last year, Connor Shaw absolutely killed Clemson, by foot and by air, and one of the big reasons was USC was ahead of the chains. Clemson needed to look out for runs by both the quarterback and running back along with the passing game. In the end, they didn't defend any of it very well.

This year, UCS feels different. Their offense doesn’t seem to be in sync and Shaw isn’t 100%. That doesn’t mean they won’t score, because they will, but it does make them slightly more predictable. And every little bit helps.

Look for Clemson to play the rush first, apply pressure from multiple positions and blitzes, and force Shaw to beat them from the pocket. UCS will have some success, but not enough to outpace the Clemson offense.

Break Even on Special Teams
The biggest difference between units on Saturday won’t be between either team’s offense and defense, but between Clemson’s coverage units and UCS’ return units.

Of all the keys, this seems to be the easiest to control. On kickoffs, make sure to get the ball in the end zone or squib it to an upback. For punts, kick the ball out of bounds or super high to prevent returns. At this point, just don’t muff any catches and you should be good.

Clemson may try once or twice to pen UCS deep on kick-offs, but as we saw against FSU & NC State, one mistake and the defense will be placed in tough positions.

Don’t Get Too Emotional
Dabo – this one’s on you. There will be times of great joy following big plays, and great lows following blown coverages and UCS touchdowns. Let’s have fun, have success, but keep things in check. If the FSU or NC State game taught us anything, it’s the game is never over. Dabo’s famous for post-game celebrations, but let’s keep the in-game celebrations to a minimum. But due to the stage and opponent, I’m not so sure he or any of the other players and coaches will be able to stay even keeled.

Protect the Football
Of all the keys, this may be the most important. In UCS’ last three wins, they’ve won the turnover battle. In Clemson’s last win, they got four interceptions. Turnovers will tell the tale.

This key may also be the toughest for Clemson to win. Part of being aggressive means taking chances, and chances don’t always go your way. Because of their offensive style, I don’t expect Clemson to win this key, but if they can create a turnover or two, which  they should, it will make a huge difference. Enough to separate winning from losing.

Prediction
Death Valley will be electric Saturday night, and the team will feed from it. Look for Clemson to jump out to an early lead, only feeding the frenzy further. At some point, the tide will begin to turn back in the favor of UCS, but only for a series or two as the UCS offense is unable to sustain success and the Clemson offense regains its momentum.

Clemson maintains a 7-10 point cushion until UCS gets the ball back with one final shot to draw even. The Clemson defense makes a final stop and Clemson ends a three year drought.

Clemson 30
UCS 23

4 comments:

  1. Mmm bop, ba duba dop
    Ba do bop, ba duba dop
    Ba do bop, ba duba dop
    Ba do

    Mmm bop, ba duba dop
    Ba do bop, ba duba dop
    Ba do bop, ba duba dop
    Ba do

    Mmm bop, ba duba dop
    Ba do bop, ba duba dop
    Ba do bop, ba duba dop
    Ba do

    4...IN A ROW WHOA

    Mmm bop, ba duba dop
    Ba do bop, ba duba dop
    Ba do bop, ba duba dop
    Ba do

    Mmm bop, ba duba dop
    Ba do bop, ba duba dop
    Ba do bop, ba duba dop
    Ba do

    4...IN A ROW WHOA

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Was waiting for this...

      Listen - I can take it as well as I dish it. I was there when Zero bars were being reined down when you were 0-11. I was there when people were selling "Brad Scott, More Chins than Wins" bumper stickers. I was there for the Catch II. And I doled it out with the best of them. And now it's time for payback.

      So, congrats on the win - it was hard fought and well earned. And while it may be a great day to be Gamecock, that will never equate to being a Tiger...

      Delete
  2. Hard fight??? It was a stroll in the park!!! Go Cocks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Stroll in the park? Now, you're just being delusional, or for you guys, normal.


      I will grant you one or two of the last four may have been easy, but this one was not. The game was in doubt midway through the 4th quarter and Clemson was a play or two away from retaking the lead. Congrats on not allowing Clemson to make the play, but to claim it was a stroll in the park is to discredit the work your guys put into this.

      Delete

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