|Tuesday, September 30, 2014, 10:14 AM- -|
Coming into the season there were tons of questions surrounding the Clemson offense. The Tigers were having to replace the school's all-time leading passer in
Tajh BoydTajh Boyd
Quarterback (2009 - 2013)
#10 6-1, 225
View Full Profile , the school's all-time leading receiver in Sammy WatkinsSammy Watkins
Wide Receiver (2011 - 2013)
#2 6-1, 205
Fort Myers, FL
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Wide Receiver (2011 - 2013)
#1 6-5, 200
Calhoun Falls, SC
View Full Profile and their two best linemen in Brandon ThomasBrandon Thomas
Offensive Line (2009 - 2013)
#63 6-3, 305
View Full Profile and Tyler ShatleyTyler Shatley
Offensive Guard (2009 - 2013)
#62 6-3, 295
View Full Profile .
Many thought this was going to be an offense that relied on a power running game and the hurry up no huddle pace to help with deal with the losses, especially those in the passing game. The thought was that
Cole StoudtCole Stoudt
#18 6-4, 231
View Full Profile would be an efficient passer in the play action game that would be set up by a power running attack.
Through four games the offense looks nothing like we thought it would and that mainly comes down to
Deshaun WatsonDeshaun Watson
#4 6-3, 204
View Full Profile . The true freshmen has the offense heading in a completely different direction than what we thought in the pre-season.
Watson's abilities have the Tigers once again featuring the vertical passing game much like they have the past three seasons.
In analyzing the statistics you have to consider several factors. First, Stoudt started the last three games and played in the majority of snaps in the first two games. Second, Clemson has played two good defenses and two poor ones. The remaining schedule won't see defenses on either end of the spectrum in most weeks. In other words, most of the defenses remaining on the schedule should be somewhere between the extremes the Tigers have faced so far.
But the numbers are very similar despite huge personnel losses from last year. Clemson averaged 40.2 points per game last year and the same 40.2 points this season. The running game was better when it averaged 175 yards per game compared to 137.2 this season, but the passing game has improved from 333 yards per game to 353 yards per game this year. The total offense is down from 508 per contest last year to 490 yards per game this season.
Moving forward I think you will see the offense continue to open up and build around Watson's ability to keep his eyes downfield when he moves around in and outside of the pocket. The opportunity for big plays in the passing game could increase over the final eight games of the regular season.
I do think defenses will adjust to Clemson's vertical passing game. My guess is Clemson will see more quarters and cover three in the future in an attempt to limit the vertical passing game. If this is the case, two things will have to happen. First, Clemson will have to run the ball more effectively. If defenses play softer in the secondary and designate less bodies to the run game, the offense will have to run the ball. Second, Watson will have to be patient and take what the defense gives him. This will mean less downfield passing and more underneath throws.
I still think there will be big plays to be had. Watson's ability to improvise will help this happen. Also the wide receivers have played well and could continue to make big plays in the passing game. However, defenses will attempt to slow down the huge chunk plays.
What is amazing to me is the idea that this offense is close to the productivity we have seen over the past three record breaking seasons. Who would have thought you could lose two of the greatest players in school history and not skip a beat statistically? This is further evidence of just how special Watson is and can be in the future. He has changed the identity of what we thought the offense would be coming into the season.
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Defensive Tackle (2008 - 2011)
#98 6-2, 310
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