Friday, 28 October 2011

Clemson Could Have Been National Champions

Yes, this is a post I have wanted to write (and have written many times in my head) immediately after the Auburn game. Like I have said before, as a Clemson fan and probably just a sports fan, its just what you do.  You project how your team is going to win the national championship and you do it up until the moment your team loses. If tomorrow we lose to GT then I want to be able to say that I enjoyed the ride while it lasted. Yes, I know--only think about the game in front of you. Beat GT and it will work itself out...but where is the fun in painstakingly agonizing over all the potential scenarios and knowing all of the teams that need to win and lose each week. I just can't miss out anymore.

So we all know the basics by now. Essentially there will be a 1-loss SEC team that is presumed to win out. OK St has the strongest poll numbers (the Big 12 is loved by the computers) and will play in the natl champs if they win out. Thanks to the stupid coaches poll Stanford will jump us if they go undefeated and we are supposed to jump Boise St. I'm also not going to entertain the idea that a one loss team can jump us. With our 2 team SEC OOC (out of conference) strength of schedule it is not happening.

So we would have an argument for staying ahead of Stanford if we both went undefeated but that was sabotaged by Miami. We could have played a ranked UNC and GT (if they had stayed undefeated probably for Gameday) but that didn't happen. Wake could be ranked if they win their games before us but then you risk losing to Wake and letting them play in the Conference Champs game. If you can stomach rooting for USuCk that will help our strength of schedule too. Its tough because you want USuCk, Florida and Georgia to all be somewhat down so you can win recruiting battles. Do you root for Georgia so USuCk can't win the East? If you do that then you are rooting for Boise's only quality win and boosting their SOS. Tough choices...

What you really want in order to ensure that all the one loss teams are kept at bay is for Virginia Tech to remain with one loss and be ranked in the top ten for the ACCChamps. If that happens there is no way we don't jump Boise. Auburn is another team to root for since the voters love to keep them in the top 25.

I'm going to go through each team and pick a few potential stumbling blocks. Just like Okla. losing to Texas Tech, every team is potentially vulnerable.

First is LSU. I see guys on the D like Sam Montgomery and Craig Loston and I wonder what if...They have the easiest road after Alabama. Only Arkansas at home and at the end of the season remains. That is a slight possibility but since it is at home its very tough. They play Western Kent and Ole Miss for the other games, so yeah...Maybe for this reason you cheer for Bama.

Bama. On the road at Miss St is a stretch but could be a let down game after the emotional LSU SuperBowl. The D is amazing but the offense is still a bit suspect if you can contain the run game. This is the reason why I like Auburn's chances at home at the end of the season. If Auburn can get their offense clicking it could happen. Again a stretch but not beyond the realm of possibility.

As you can see I am looking for a way that both SEC teams have one loss when the smoke clears. Maybe an East team puts up a fight?? It does strike me, however, that everyone automatically assumes that at least one SEC team will make it and when everyone is so certain about things, that is when something goes wrong. I guy can dream...

Ok St. This is the toughest schedule with Baylor, Kansas St, Texas Tech and Oklahoma. Only Texas Tech is on the road but that is still quite the gambit. Not having a Champs game this year will be a big deal, however. The 30-29 squeaker against A&M looks bigger and bigger. The D is not very good but has its moments--much like Clemson and the offense is clicking. Blackmon is a weapon and the QB Wheedon is an older, solid player. I can almost convince myself that Ok St will do it this year but then I think that Gundy will somehow blow it in the end. In the past I think his teams have lacked a certain mental toughness to hang with the elites in the Big 12. Hopefully this isn't the year they get over the proverbial hump.

Boise St. Georgia is the big win but they have stinkers against UNLV and New Mexico coming up. The TCU game is a possible crater. Boise looked suspect against Air Force and the Horned Frogs looked improved against BYU. Patterson will have his team up and prepared for the game. San Diego St. is a super long shot.

Stanford. USC. Fight On Trojans. I think we don't know anything about this team yet. They have played absolutely no one. An overrated Wash and mediocre Wash st and the only mid tier teams. San Jose St? Colorado? Arizona pre-Stoops firing? Duke? This is the schedule that shoots them up to #3 in the Coaches Poll? Any excuse to brighten the Luck spotlight. Oregon and Notre Dame should be formidable and Cal and on the road at Ore St is still tricky. I fully expect them to lose once if not twice. ASU in the Pac-12 Champs could be tough with their front 7.

Playoff please!

K State will lose.

Friday, 21 October 2011

My Unsung Heroes

This post is for the unsung heroes who have really stepped up for the Tigers this year. These aren't players we thought would be good, these are guys who flew under the radar. As a disclaimer, there are a lot of players this year so add anyone to the list in comments if you want...

1. Phillip Price When Dabo said that Price would start I think everyone either groaned or saw it as purely a motivational tactic for Thomas. Thomas was supposed to take this slot after Hairston left for the NFL (he started this past week!), but he had an underwhelming Spring practice and didn't assert himself again in the Fall leading up to the opening game. He could also be added to the list, however, because he has stepped up when Smith and Cloy went down. Price deserves all the credit in the world. When you hear walk-on tight end turned starting tackle, it usually doesn't inspire much confidence. Price has just plain worked his way into this position and it is truly a great story. Last year he gained good weight and strength and this year has added more technique and flexibility to go along with his drive to be successful. This has helped him go up against some good DE's from FSU and VT and he still is raw and makes a few mistakes but I think you can count on Price overall. He is also tough and won't let little injuries keep him out, he just battles through which is refreshing.  Without Price, Tajh is running for his life. If Price can sustain his current level of play he may be the true MVP of the offense, certainly the offensive line. How many of us really believed that this Spring??

2. Tig Willard The improvement of the defense from game to game is directly connected to the improved confidence of the LB's. This week Tig told us that last year he could barely hold his arm above his head. I'm still shocked that he didn't shut it down. get the medical redshirt at the beginning of the year, and save himself the year along with not going through some excruciatingly painful months. That is some serious pain he played through. His play this year has help solidify some weaknesses in the d-line and secondary. The bottom line is he is making plays. He sheds blocks better this year and can tackle with two arms. Hawkins gets pushed out of position too easily and doesn't play with the same instincts that Tig has flashed. He is still a work in progress and has room to improve but he reminds me of a Kavell Conner (18 tackles for the Colts on MNF). I'm just hoping that Tig realizes his potential while here at Clemson. Anthony and Willard should make a very solid Nickel package going forward. We need it to be a championship team.

3. Nuk Hopkins I want to put Nuke on the list here because I want him to get as much press (since being on this blog means so much-ha) as Watkins and Allen. Allen has been stellar, making unreal catches he wasn't last year and making plays after the catch--even hurdling defensive players. He is also provides much needed leadership and I think we need a shirt and campaign to try to get Allen to stay next year. Watkins is the freshman splash and he deserves all the hype and cred he is getting. Hopkins, however, makes everything work. I feel like he is the lynchpin of the offense. He makes everyone around him better. He just doesn't drop passes (well almost never) and helps make up for some of Tajh's deficiencies. Without Hopkins defenses can cover Watkins and Allen. Brown has been a great surprise too so really it should be the entire receiving corps.

Another quick note--Adam Humphries is making me feel stupid. I am always one for being skeptical and never like hearing "trust the coaches" or anyone saying I can't have an opinion because I am not a coach. I think that the coaches have really started to gain my confidence in recruiting. I still think that Dabo makes mistakes in recruiting like the QB Morgan Roberts and maybe Seckinger, although I like his height, along with all the Alabama projects over the years. It especially hurts when we have a number crunch like we do now. Humphries has been solid and exceeded everyone's expectations. That's why when we signed Josh Brown with a 2* rating I'm not going to say anything. I can see how he could contribute and I'm learning to trust this staff.

Lastly I just wanted to say how much I hate Steward getting injured. I want him to succeed even more now because I think he is a great, humble person who is seriously being tested. I am really hoping he can come back from two horrible injuries and be able reach his potential. It would seem cruel if he never achieved his vast potential.

Last last note. Put Bellamy back for Kickoff Returns. Apparently the coaching staff think he doesn't have a future back there because he is too shifty. Well he is a freshman and needs some coaching but he has way more potential than Brown who is just too slow to break a kick. A return man needs speed, vision, ball security, and the instincts to pick a lane and go with it. Did I mention speed?? No one on the roster is far and away better than Bellamy so give him a chance and use that opportunity as a way to keep him somewhat happy. I'm not a fan of appeasing players if they whine but this caliber of player just needs opportunities. It in no way hurts the team and if you teach him to just run straight he can do it. Plus when he makes a move in the open field he doesn't lose that much speed. Hosley will tell you so...

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Clemson's Light Shines


How many of us when the score was 17-35 didn't believe...

I am physically tired, physically drained. In retrospect it was a thrilling game that I strangely enjoyed but only in retrospect. What a rollercoaster. So I have to ask the question, what have we learned??

The Defense still can't handle a running QB or the zone read. This reminded me of 2009 against Maryland where we couldn't stop the slowest QB I have ever seen run the zone read. I am sure Edsall saw the film and that's why they went with Wilson. It is partly scheme but more a result of poor Linebacker play (MLB specifically) and poor containment. We have to get this figured out for GT and South Carolina and Conner Shaw. We play better against more pro-style QB's I think. Maryland just steam rolled the D with tempo which is what let us back into the game. Ultimately we gassed them in the fourth though.

We learned that Watkins is human with the punt muff and then we learned we were tricked and that he was just disguising his superhero status. Watkins won us the game today. We finally got the return game going. I would like to see Bellamy back there on kickoffs. I don't think Brown has the speed.

Boyd showed great poise again. He seems to have one hair pulling stupid moment a game. The pass to Werner, last week it was another throw of the ball when he was sacked, and this week it was a pick 6 right to the DB Chism, I believe. Boyd threw two passes that should have been intercepted in the beginning along with throwing high and looking horrible. He settled and put together a great game. Made some pretty throws at the end.

We are really missing Benton. Lots of short kicks and our coverage teams need some serious work. Lateek is one of the only bright spots--this is both kick and punt coverage. Way too many returns to the 30-40 yard line. Got to get that fixed.

We had been 2-3 against Maryland in the last 5 games. I am thrilled to walk away with the win. Lets hope this builds confidence and keeps any thoughts of overconfidence at bay. Lets hope we can keep our legs for North Carolina but we need to do better tackling.

More thoughts later...I'm off to bed. Sleeping the sleep of victor's! Go Tigers!

Friday, 14 October 2011

Best Anouncement Video Ever

A golf cart--that is just plain awesome! I love how many Tiger fans were there and how happy his mom is, that is special! Looks like we got a wonderful person and a wonderful football player. Carlos is one of the biggest needs for this recruiting class and will hopefully be in the 2-deep immediately. A big coup for the Tigers, couldn't be more excited! Good job Coach Brooks and Dabo. Welcome to the Tiger Family Mr. Watkins! We are looking forward to much more awesomeness to come!

Monday, 10 October 2011

Ron Cherry Is All Business

I seriously started laughing out loud when I saw this. Wow...maybe Ron Cherry is a genius too...

Sunday, 9 October 2011


Its about time I posted about this genius of a man. I'll post some of his other videos too--the one where he eats the Hokies turkey sandwich from their lunch pail is pretty classic. ClemsonTom is sure to become the stuff of legends. I'm glad he's on our side.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Concerns Moving Forward?

I am concerned that Dabo will look at Derek Dooley and copy his ugly light orange pants look. Eww...

1. The Health of Tajh Boyd

As we all know now, the MRI was negative and Tajh has a hip injury. Much better than a knee but still painful if it is dislocated. My concern is how he comes back because a hip flexor can really limit your mobility. We all remember how Parker went down with the ribs and wasn't the same QB. It would be a shame if Tajh didn't come back completely. It also means that Boyd won't be as much of a running threat, an area that he has been improving in.

2. Kickoffs

I want to see kicks inside the ten always. We gave BC too good of field position. Zimmerman did a better job and Lateek Townsend was all over the place on coverage. It was a good move to burn his redshirt. Cat-man kicked well today which was very good to see. We will need him more if Boyd is unable to return.

3. Interior Run Defense

Either our D got complacent and lazy or the middle of our D can't stop a run. I think it is more the later and I put the blame primarily on the MLB Corico Hawkins. Some pathetic tackling today and we could easily be beaten by a team that lines up and sticks it to us. The BC line isn't that good and they were running their fourth string RB and still took it to the middle of the line. This must change for GT. I think that players like Bowers, McDaniel, and Gilchrist made up for the horrible play we have had in the middle of the D. This will be exposed when we play GT, maybe against North Carolina.

4. Stupid Trick Plays

I hope we were just trying stuff out today because I absolutely hate to see dumb uses of trick plays. It smells to me of Dabo influence and they seem to take us out of our tempo or rhythm. They have also just plain not worked or resulted in big losses. I don't like ill advised fake fg's to the short side of the field. Double reverses almost never work. Run all the misdirection stuff you want--you can even do the little fake handoff but the RB throws need to go unless they have been drilled and the personnel can execute. At least we aren't putting a lineman up next to the WR like USuCk did today against one of the most pathetic Kentucky teams I have ever seen. I remember when we heavily recruited their current QB.

5. Keeping Everyone Happy

The Bellamy Facebook gaffe is a quick reminder of how quickly things can go south if players aren't getting what they want and let egos interfere with the team. And that is even when you are winning. I understand that Boyd is frustrated with PT but it was apparent that he is still kinda clueless after the false start penalty he had. He is such a talent that I hope this is just a matter of growing pains. I like the first half suspension though. You need a standard--no matter who the player is. Even if we lose we are still in the drivers seat for ACC Champs. No one wants to think about it but how the team responds if we lose will determine how the season ultimately ends.

Friday, 7 October 2011

My Tigernet Infamy

So I was pleased when I read good ol' Mickey Plyer's blog this morning to find that my post a couple of days ago had been copied and sent VERBATIM to Mickey as an email or something I guess?? Wow, too funny...You can read it here on T-Net or you can scroll down the page and read my actual post!!

Thanks 'Shannon' for sending it in, I guess. Certainly, thanks for reading. It would be weird if I was Shannon but my name is nowhere close to being Shannon. Maybe Mickey was so hard pressed for letters this week that he 'borrowed' it from this blog--haha. Anyway, that was a weird first for me. Mickey had some nice things to say at least. Yeah, so, umm..Go Tigers!

*One quick note. For those of you who still don't think Chad Morris is making the difference this year, remember that last year we found out that the Boston College players were bragging after the game about knowing exactly what the Clemson offensive plays were before we snapped the ball. That is not the snap count or an idea of the play--it was the actual play! Can you imagine what that would be like as a defensive player. That is unheard of and is a direct result of having formations that give away your plays. With all the scouting and preparation defensive coordinators perform, they are lucky to have a beat on ten percent of the plays in a game. I think that is probably way too high of a number. Anyway, that was when I knew that change needed to happen. Napier and Dabo didn't have a system that worked. It was ultimately too predictable and not mature enough for big time college football. Morris is the difference on offense and thus is the difference this season.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Good Stuff from the Sangin Cowboys

Their Hokie walk thing is pretty lame. I love how they say we took them out back behind the woodshed...this is probably the funniest piece of college football humor I have ever seen in relation to Virginia Tech. Ok, its the only thing I've ever seen but I like it! I actually really appreciated the fan/tailgating perspective. Cows and barns!

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Chad Morris Must Stay

So what is the difference in this team compared to last years team some have asked. The difference in the team this year is simple and it is all Chad Morris. Dabo is not an offensive coordinator or a good enough offensive mind to design and call the plays like Morris. Dabo is a great team leader, recruiter, and motivator for the fan base. He also gives a mean interview...

The problem is that Dabo wears thin if you are not winning. When you are not winning your faults are on display and become severely enlarged. That is the microscope the head coach lives under. No one can replace Morris, if he leaves then it is like Brad Scott calling plays for RichRod. Eventually it just isn't up to par.  Who on the staff would you feel comfortable with duplicating Morris's performance up until this point. Pony up whatever money you can Clemson powers that be. Chad has a daughter starting at Daniel High School and he has said he will stay at least until she graduates. Lets make that kind gesture of a father to a daughter a reality.

If we still had Napier this year, what would be our record? Sure we have Watkins but we would have the same inconsistent play at WR where even Dwayne Allen is dropping passes and no one knows how to block. Boyd out of shape, with bad footwork, and no ownership of the team. A team without an identity. I give all the credit in the world to Dabo for making the call to switch to Chad Morris. (Napier is still a good coach, great recruiter, who just had no business being an offensive coordinator) Without him we become a very average team and no amount of speeches or chest bumps can replace attention to detail, true accountability, and an infectious work ethic that was previously lacking with this team.
We were on par in terms of toughness with Virginia Tech--an amazing feat for this team.

Somebody make a shirt with a slogan about how Chad Morris must stay. In Chad We Trust (probably too strong and questions dabo's leadership) or More Morris Please.  Yeah, I am struggling to come up with something. Help, please?

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Life in the Fast Lane

Nothing was sweeter than seeing the Virginia Tech faithful exiting the stadium early.  We were wet and cold but felt absolutely great.  I got a fever, and the only cure is more Dabo...(actually it is just winning, and Chad Morris)

I have been known to wear orange tinted glasses and spontaneously declare that Clemson will win the National Championship and then even if Clemson has lost a game--try to scheme a way for us to sneak into a BCS bowl game.  Even last year up until the 55 yard FSU fg inexplicably sailed through the uprights I had faith.  After we beat Auburn I was thinking Natl Champs.  I'm a hopeless Clemson fan--its what I do! And I bet you do it too--whether you are a pumper or a whiner or a moonshiner or whatever.  At this point its time to just enjoy the winning, and declare that we are going to win a national championship this year--haha!!

Seriously though, I don't think Clemson should tolerate losing seasons and losing to the Cocks two years in a row.  The offense under the two-headed monster of Napier and Dabo was downright offensive.  Dabo is not a good end of half or game coach and favors some of 'his' players over those who should play.  Those are my main objections to his tenure but I certainly acknowledge that he can recruit, build a staff, and bring media attention to Clemson. The players love him (and he loves the players) and he seems like a good motivational speaker (although before FSU we were slow out of the gate and down at half-time each game).  So lets break this down a bit and get critical (but don't worry, we are going to win the natl championship)--coaching, offense, defense, and sp teams.

This year Dabo is doing a better job as a head coach. If Dabo stays out of the Morris offense then I have no problem with him as coach. We struggled with our tempo at Virginia Tech and I don't want to see the team pull up on the gas pedal until we are under the 3-4 minute mark.  We struggled with our tempo before the half which is something that surprised me.  We let too much time off the clock, I expect our hurry up offense to morph into super offense the way Auburn does regularly.  O-line has been steadily improving. Anyone who questioned the hiring of Caldwell as the coach after two games this season shouldn't offer up their opinions. Despite Mclets give them a lane to the qb (McLain, get it, yeah that was lame) the O-line looks improved.  Still can't run block extremely well but I'll take it. Morris is proving to not only be able to gameplan effectively but he makes quick in-game adjustments.  He is a pretty good play caller as well, considering how young of an offensive coordinator at the collegiate level he is. The plays are designed well and Morris demands excellence from his players.

Steele essentially had his defense pitch a shutout in Blacksburg.  The defense is a work in progress but if they can continue to improve then this can be a championship team. You can depend on Steele to make great half-time adjustments consistently, as well. Usually he has players in the right spots to be successful but this year there has been some sloppy fundamentals.  We have always missed a bunch of tackles but this year it seems worse. Maybe it was wet and slippery jerseys but Wilson made us look silly many times (although he is a great running back). Overall the defensive coaching, apart from the tackling, has been consistent and solid.

Boyd is so far ahead of where I thought he would be. He has really impressed me as a leader and I will admit that I wasn't sure he had it in him. We learned this week that Morris was also not sure after Spring ball if Tajh had it in him. Credit goes to good coaching and to a player willing to be coached. My only major beef right now is that sometimes Boyd misses on easy passes. He needs to work on his screen throws, which means better footwork. I thought he ran very well at Lane and didn't try to force it too much. He showed he can manage the game. He was a bit off in the rain and cold. He had balls that were too high where his receivers bailed him out like the amazing DA play where he leaped over the DB.

Ellington is running effectively but I am waiting for him to breakout a bit more. Please, Bellamy, learn some play book. You keep teasing us with these few amazing runs. I'm hoping Howard can come back strongly as well. I'm also hoping Dwayne Allen sticks around for a senior year. Can you believe this is the same guy who dropped all those balls last year? Still can improve in blocking, along with Brandon Ford but he has been absolutely amazing. Hopefully Peake can get some more experience, along with Bryant. Hopkins is the unsung hero of the group and Jaron Brown has been light years from his former self. Jaron has turned two or three throws from interceptions to receptions and has been a great effort guy. We now have 5 receivers in this freshman class. Humphries should have red-shirted. Along the O-line we need depth, especially looking towards next year.

D-line is playing well. We know the starters have been good but I have been happy with the play of Shatley and K. Brown in the past couple of games. I am a big fan of Stephone Anthony and think this defense will only be better as Corico Hawkins gets fewer snaps. Hawkins has been a valuable player these past couple of years but this season has exposed his inability to shed blocks and make big tackles. Anthony needs to learn how to line-up the defense and he will be the playmaker we are so desperate to have in the middle of this defense. Willard has also been steadily improving. This is the main reason for Steward seeing so little time. I hope we can get him more involved and that his knee continues to hold up.

I like not redshirting Lateek Townsend. He is an energy player and a specimen physically. If he is happy playing special teams and occasionally rushing the passer then it is better than having him walk. We all new that the Steele defense would be tough for any of the young LB's to fully grasp but a happy Lateek is much better than no Lateek. I think he genuinely wants to help the team. We certainly need the help on special teams coverage units.

The secondary is perhaps the main work in progress. Can the young DB's make an impact and hold up? Losing Breeland is no good for this team so lets hope he can fully recover from the concussion. Robinson needs to elevate his game. Brewer has played well and Coty is a bit up and down. Hall is missing a step but played well against VTech. Meeks might have gotten slightly injured at the end of the game but Dabo said he was fine. We have no depth at safety with just Smith and Lewis as back-ups. Jenkins is a guy that needs game experience.

I am hoping we can blow out BC so our young guys get some playing time.

Special Teams
Zimmerman is a great punter and hopefully can fully recover this week. He seemed to have a few tentative kicks in Lane. I'm still surprised that Catman kick was good. I hate missed ex points. I still remember when Jad Dean missed the exp that cost us the BC game and ultimately a shot at the acc champs game. That all needs to be fixed. I say Catman do the kickoffs. Keeps the kicker somewhat warm. Lets do anything at this point. Sad to see Benton get hurt--one of our best special teams tacklers. Coverage units still need some work.

BC is a revenge game so I think we get up for it. Maryland doesn't have Fat Ralph who was probably the best schemer against us. Then UNC at home and a GTech team I didn't think could be this good. Get by Tanner Price and no Russell Wilson and we go to cootlumbia for a chance at it all. ACC Champs game will inevitably be a rematch, pick your Tech poison. Then its natl champs time. I think our computer poll numbers and sos will put us over the top. The national championship is within our grasp. hahah!

Go Tigers!          
A blog about all Clemson Tiger University sports--football, basketball, baseball, along with the occasional South Carolina coot bashing.