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The Forecast for 2006 - Part Two: The Defense
Last week, I confessed my obsession with stats. We then looked at my projections for the team numbers on offense. Today let's examine the defense and try to project some team numbers for 2006.
Total Defense 2005-334.1 ypg (7th in the ACC) 2004-327.3 ypg (7th in the ACC)
These numbers are not too bad considering the Tigers were 7th in the conference, but 20th in the country. I think top 20 in a reasonable goal. This number may go up because the front seven is very good, but the secondary has some question marks. I would think Clemson will be leading a lot of games and forcing teams to throw the football more. I believe this defense will improve in a lot of categories, but may give up more yards per game in 2006.
Rushing Defense-2005 130.0 ypg (7th in the ACC) 2004-135.6 ypg (6th in the ACC)
The Tigers were 25th in the nation last year. They improved by five yards per contest last season from 2004 and we think they will improve again this season. I think it is reasonable to expect the Tigers to hold teams under 120 yards per game against the run. The front seven is deep and talented.
Also, Gaines Adams and Phillip Merling should have plenty of sack opportunities that will cause the rushing yardage to go down. Don't be surprised if this number gets closer to 100 yards per game in 2006.
Passing Defense-2005-204.1 ypg (8th in the ACC) 2004-191.6 ypg (5th in the ACC)
Clemson was 29th in the country last year in passing yardage allowed. I think that number should stay close to the same or go up in 2006. I personally do not think the Tigers will face a very difficult schedule when it comes to great passers, and the secondary will improve as the year goes on, but this number could increase.
Scoring Defense-2005 18.3 (4th in the ACC) 2004-20.8 (8th in the ACC)
Clemson was 11th in the nation last year in this category. This number was a nice improvement from 2004. This number was helped out by an offense that stayed on the field more, and kept the defense on the sideline. Also Clemson will not face a lot of high-powered offenses again this season. This is a number that should not change too much in our opinion. Holding an opponent under 20 points should be the goal.
Passing Efficiency Defense-2005-111.8 (5th in the ACC)
The Tigers were 18th in the nation in this category last season. Because of an increased pass rush and more turnovers being forced, we believe this number should not rise as much as the passing yardage total. This number is not that important in my opinion.
Sacks-2005-28 (8th in the ACC) 2004-40 (1st in the ACC)
Clemson was 25th in the nation last year in sacks and we believe this number will improve as much as any in 2006. After leading the conference with 40 sacks in 2004, the number dropped to 8th in the league with 28 in 2005. Koening does not send as much pressure, but Adams and crew should feast on opponents in 2006. We believe this number should go over 40 this season.
In summary, I think this defense can be very good. I really like the depth and talent at defensive tackle. I am concerned about the depth at defensive end and bandit, but the starters are a lot to be excited about. The linebackers are deep and talented. I like the safeties and feel a little better about the corners after the spring game. Gaines Adams and Anthony Waters are future NFL stars, and should help lead a very good defense into 2006.
Tomorrow we will look at some individual stats.
I know people are disappointed about giving up so many runs in the last two games versus Georgia Tech this past weekend, but good news is ahead. The baseball schedule gets much easier in the second half of the ACC season for the Tigers.
Each ACC team plays 10 3-game weekend conference series each year. The Tigers just completed the first half of the conference season with a 10-5 record and I think they will improve on that record in the second half of the season. Here are some facts about the schedule:
*Four of the Tigers first five conference foes are ranked or have been ranked this season. Only two of the last five series are against ranked teams (FSU and WF and both are at home)
*The combined conference record of the first half ACC opponents is 51-42. The current combined conference record of the second half schedule of ACC teams the Tigers will face is 39-55.
*Clemson went on the road for three of the first five weekend series. The second half will see the Tigers at home on three of the five weekends.
*Clemson will face UNC in the regular season. The Tar Heels are 12-6 in the league.
*The first half non-conference schedule featured games with teams that were ranked including College of Charleston, Kansas, Georgia and South Carolina.
In the second half, only Winthrop and Charleston have been ranked.
*The first half saw Clemson play 22 games versus teams that have been ranked. In the second half the Tigers will play eight games versus teams that have been ranked.
I spent early Friday morning in Greenwood, SC playing Hunter's Creek with the head golf professional Jason Allen and one of his best members. I just wanted to say thanks to Jason and the nice members at Hunter's Creek. The golf experience is very nice and I would suggest you consider playing there the next time you are in the Greenwood area.
Thanks for reading and again our motto is, "Since the blog is free, at least you get your money's worth."