Rant over, now on to the Clemson game. I've now watched it thrice & it's pretty evident what transpired: we got physically whipped, despite the fact that Dabo is a complete buffoon. As we've said many times, physical superiority cancels out all theory & that was indeed the case on Saturday; we brought .22's & Clem's redneck Son had a howitzer. Needless to say, we lost because they manhandled us. Observations:
- Good lord, our tackle play is bad. Yes, Bowers is good, as is their entire defensive line. But we whiff more than we hit. That's not hyperbole. Hit anybody at this point & I'm happy.
- Joshua missed multiple reads in the option game. Too many, frankly, for a guy whose played three years in this system. He also has a nasty case of tunnel vision. He just locks on to his primary receiver & won't look elsewhere.
- Stephen Hill desperately needs to step up & become more physical but he's taking too much heat. Go back & watch the ball he's thrown in the endzone in the 1st quarter. If Nesbitt releases it sooner & to the proper shoulder it's an easy TD. Should he have caught the ball? Probably, but having to spin around & make the catch was tough. But don't kid yourself it's all his fault, that throw was there to be had & Nesbitt missed it.
- Nice adjustment by Clemson DC Kevin Steele to replace injured LB Brandon Maye with DE Andre Branch. Steele didn't do anything we haven't seen before, 1-3i technique DT's varied with 2i-2i fronts (helps combat the midline), stacked OLB's off the DE's, McDaniel in the box to make eight, we've seen it all before. They simply physically beat us.
- Our inability to stretch the field deep allows opponents to stack the box far to frequently. Man, do we miss BayBay....
- Orwin Smith is a player, get him the rock.....and where has BJ Bostic been of late?
- Love to see Jemea Thomas move from safety to A-back next year. His physical nature would have helped on Saturday.
- There were plenty of missed assignments but more often than blown assignments we simply were physically beaten.
- we just simply don't have the talent to play a 3-4 now. We have no legit nose tackle (Shawn Green traveled & dressed as scout team player of the week but it's pointless to burn his redshirt now) and our linebackers simply lack the athleticism to play the defense at this level. I'm not trying to take a shot at them, they weren't recruited to play this defense. But if Dabo & Clemson OC Billy Napier had half a brain between them they would have run the ball 65 times on Saturday.What did Clemson do that led to Ellington's big day?
- First TD: frankly, they didn't do it enough but it was basic our-guy-can-beat-your-guy strategy: line up in a simple 12 (one back, 2 TE) and put a hat-on-a-hat. Because our nose tackle doesn't demand a double team, they lined up with simple man responsibilities: center takes the NT, guards get the second level on the ILB's (who were simply over-matched size wise), tackles take the DE's, tight ends handle the OLB's, who are up tight on the line. That leaves our corners & safeties in Cover 2, guaranteeing at least a 6 yard gain. And if Ellington breaks into the second level & the safeties get caught in traffic or miss a tackle? See TD run #1.
- On the second TD, Clemson did exactly what we wanted them to & we couldn't stop them. We walk Jefferson up into the strongside B-gap, essentially asking them to run to the other side. They oblige, leaving what should be two players, Burnett & Edwards, to make the tackle. Both are flat-footed & out of position, which was all Ellington needed.....
- On the final Ellington TD, the simple swing pass into the flat, everyone is killing Mario Butler. Some of that is justified: there's no reason to be backing up as Ellington is coming at you- go & take a shot at making a play. But the entire play hinges on Egbuniwe executing his responsibility & covering the flat. He got trapped inside leaving Butler 1 vs. 1 with Ellington, a matchup that Clemson wins 98 times out of 100.
- One holding call on them would have been nice......
- Again, we just continue to brutalize ourselves. First, I really don't have a problem with the Sweeting roughing the punter penalty. What are you going to do, tell the kid not to try & make a play? What if he blocks the punt & we score, does it change the game? He says he saw it was a bad snap & went after the block & maintains he got a piece of the ball. Replay was inconclusive but you can't blame him for trying to make a play; if you encourage that mindset in players you're done.
- After the roughing penalty we go: late hit (stupid), we miss downing a punt at the one (why don't we directional kick?), and have holding penalties on us on consecutive kick returns. Then, we simply get unlucky when Luke Cox punches the ball out on a Clemson kick return & we lose it at the bottom of the pile. Not a pretty day on special teams & we're just not good enough to be able to take blows we inflict on ourselves.
- Luckily, Dabo thinks it's cute to throw the ball for no apparent reason. If you think for one scintilla that our play calling leaves something to be desired imagine what Clemson fans go through every Saturday. No apparent goal in sight, just call what's "neat"? Maybe he has a mini-Twister spinner on his call sheet & just spins it randomly. Just one example: Clemson, on our 4 with 5 minutes & change left, up 11, facing fourth & inches, kicks a field goal? What the Fuck? Okay, so first off, you've gashed us for like 200+ yards on the ground at this point. Then, you decide instead of putting the game away with a TD, you'll kick a FG, essentially changing nothing as it's still a two score game? And you then kick off to us, giving us a chance at a return? What's the worst case scenario if you don't make it & turn it over to us on downs? We still need two scores & are 96 yards away against a defense that's held us in check all day? Seriously, if someone can explain Dabo's logic to me I'd love to hear it. But give him (or more appropriately the Clemson players) credit, they won, so I'm essentially crying over spilt milk (and doing so happily as long as he's in charge....I don't want to awake that sleeping talent-rich giant......)
I'm not overly down on the season at this point. We're not where I wan't to be but we're not dead. Give Clemson some credit; when you've got a defensive line line like that & guys making one -handed catches for key first downs, you're doing something right. Remember, this is a team that three weeks ago took the now #1 BCS team to OT on Auburn's home field. They are not a bad outfit.
But it's time to make some changes amongst our ranks, particularly on defense. Let's get the young guys some experience & give them a taste of the ACC. Anthony Egbuniwe & Mario Edwards have been good soldiers, & for that, and their part in last year's ACC Championship, we'll be eternally grateful. But at this point they are doing little more than blocking younger guys from getting experience and frankly they aren't enough of an upgrade at their respective positions to do so. Play Isaiah Johnson & Jeremiah Attaochu full time & let's get them some ACC experience & see what they've got. Let's get Fred Holton some reps & BJ Bostic some touches on offense. It's highly unlikely we're going to a meaningful bowl game so we might as well see what's in store for our future. We can & will make a bowl game so relax......