|by Mickey Plyler - Radio Host - Thursday, January 2, 2014 11:25 AM||
I have watched at least some of almost every bowl game so far this season and have a list for the Tigers tomorrow night. Clemson is 1-1 in its last two bowl games. Those games have featured the highest of highs in the walk-off win over LSU and the lowest of lows like the Orange Bowl loss to West Virginia. They have also featured several aspects of bowl season we see most every year.
Here are 10 areas that could be a key tomorrow night because they have shown to be big this bowl season:
This is a key every week but especially in bowls. Sometimes teams are just not excited about playing. Maybe its the opponent. Maybe its the venue. Sometimes guys get homesick and are just exhausted from preparation. Whatever the cause, some teams just are not interested in the bowl. The perfect case here in Clemson's terms was the Gator Bowl loss to Syracuse when Tommy West admitted he took the team to Florida too soon and the players were just ready to get back home. The perfect example in this bowl season seemed to be Miami who looked totally disinterested in playing in Orlando against Louisville. I doubt level of interest is a concern for Clemson tomorrow night.
I think the major theme this bowl season has been injuries. Georgia was hit by injuries all year but Hutson Mason is not Aaron Murray and Todd Gurley was not healthy in the loss to Nebraska. LSU overcame Zach Mettenberger's injury in beating Iowa but Wisconsin's offense looked completely different once their starting quarterback went down for the game. Clemson comes into Friday's game fairly healthy but cannot afford major injuries like last season when Sammy WatkinsSammy Watkins
Jr. Wide Receiver
#2 6-1, 205
Fort Myers, FL
View Full Profile and Gif Timothy went down.
So far the Tigers have avoided suspensions in this bowl season. Everyone made it academically and so far all of the players have behaved. Everyone needs to make curfew tonight to avoid a typical bowl season distraction. Michigan State overcame the loss of their starting middle linebacker. We will see how Ohio State responds without its leading sack artist Noah Spence.
We already know that Clemson turned it over ten times in its two losses this season. Turnovers are a key anytime and this bowl season is a reminder. Georgia's muffed punt lead to a Nebraska score. Wisconsin turned it over four times in its loss. Clemson can not afford to help out Braxton Miller and Carlos Hyde by giving the Buckeyes a short field. Remember he West Virginia game?
Unlike the regular season, this is the last game of the year and sometimes that can be good and bad in terms of effort. When teams get down in bowls, sometimes they roll over and can't wait to get back on the plane. But Colorado State, Texas A&M and South Carolina are two examples of why you just have to keep playing in your bowls because you never know how the game can turn.
This game appears to be a shoot out because of how good both of these offenses have been. If that is the case, the Tigers can't afford to settle for field goals. Georgia did yesterday and it cost them a loss.
Field flippers are always a key and this bowl season we have seen teams like Oregon turn in pick sixes on defense. Clemson had the ultimate field flipper against them in the West Virginia Orange Bowl when Andre EllingtonAndre Ellington
Running Back (2008 - 2012)
#23 5-10, 195
Moncks Corner, SC
View Full Profile fumbled at the goal line and WVU turned it into a 14-point turnaround. Pick sixes and "scoop and scores" have been a big part of this bowl season.
Ole Miss had major kicking problems but overcame it to beat Georgia Tech. Nebraska's punter was awful but Georgia dropped a punt. North Carolina had two returns for touchdowns to key their win over Cincy. Urban Meyer coached teams are 7-1 in bowl games and special teams have been a big part of that record.
Third and Fourth Down
Conversion downs are the most important in this game any way but yesterday was a great example of how big third and fourth downs can be. Georgia had several drops but none bigger than Arthur Lynch's drop on fourth down. South Carolina converted a huge fourth down when Connor Shaw hit Bruce Ellington to propel the Gamecocks. Michigan State got the biggest stop of its season on fourth and short to preserve the Rose Bowl win. You have to win first down to win third and fourth down but converting those downs will be huge.
Chip on Your Shoulder
Perhaps the biggest factor in some of the upsets we have seen this bowl season is when you see the underdog play with a chip on its shoulder. Texas Tech felt disrespected in their game against Arizona State. Central Florida got tired of hearing about how big of an underdog it was against Baylor. Nebraska has been awful in bowls and heard about it heading into the Gator Bowl. Michigan State used the Big Ten's lack of success in the Rose Bowl as their motivation. Perhaps Clemson's biggest weapon in preparing for last year's LSU win was the chip on their shoulders they used heading into the game.
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Defensive Tackle (2008 - 2011)
#98 6-2, 310
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RS Fr. Offensive Line
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