I had a little extra time yesterday to do a deep dive on some stats, especially when it comes to predictability in the offense. Here are some highlights (and I am not sure these fit into a story, but don't want to waste them).
On 69 drives in October and November (and on the first play of the drive) when the first play is not a kneel down, Clemson has run up the middle or in between the tackles on first down 46 of 69 times
When they don't run it on first down and throw it, from what I can tell from the way the play is described, I found six instances where it wasn't a short throw or screen. So that made me want to look at all first downs, and compare to last season.
On 226 first down plays vs P5, there have been 94 dropbacks, 132 designed runs, and 92 of those runs were between the tackles including 65 straight up the middle.
For comparison, in 2020, they had 201 dropbacks and 190 designed runs on first down vs P5, 123 between the tackles. So threw more on first down last season (and there were more first downs).
In 2020, 9.05 yards/dropback on first down vs P5, this year, 5.03 In 2020, 4.81 yards/designed runs, in 2021, 4.80 So same rush production, half the passing
Is this due to talent? Deficiencies in the blocking? QB play? Trust? Just playing with what they've got? I will let you guys look it over and discuss, but I thought they were interesting.
1st paragraph: Thank you for using free time in your schedule to provide us with good info.
2nd paragraph: NICE! (Now back to football) Seems predictable. I also wonder how many of those inside runs were headed outside and got blown up.
3rd paragraph: Lots of runs and short passes seems like a low chance for a terrible play, but low chance for a big play. Really playing it safe on 1st down.
4th paragraph: Only 226 first down plays in 8 games. Wow! We have either been really short on possessions or don't get many 1st down per possession or both. (I know it's both). Based on the numbers above for 1st down runs and short throws, we are trying to keep the clock running which means we are limiting ourselves in this area also.
5th paragraph: Took more chances on first down last season with Trevor. That tells me we trusted him a lot more on 2nd and 3rd and long which makes a lot of sense.
6th paragraph: We are either choosing to play incredibly conservative or we taking the check down on 1st down a lot because nobody is open downfield when we pass on 1st downs. More incompletions also brings down the YPA numbers so that plays a part in this as well.
When I look at all of these numbers compared to last year, I would say that the loss of confidence in DJ wasn't just in DJ's mind but also something that the coaches have experienced. We are running the Kelly Bryant offense that our coaches know can be successful but we don't have Kelly Bryant at QB to keep defenses honest when they know we will run or throw short on 1st down.
I'm very torn on whether this ball control offense can beat Wake.
Do we need to play it conservative and limit their possessions or do we need to come out and break tendencies and see if DJ can put it together and jump on them early through the air?
Unfortunately with DJ's injury we may only have the conservative option.