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Topic: Clemson Rush Offense vs. UGA Rush Defense
Replies: 32   Last Post: Jun 15, 2021, 11:57 AM by: domino dave
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Clemson Rush Offense vs. UGA Rush Defense

[3]
Jun 14, 2021, 12:17 PM
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TL;DR at bottom

Clemson

Key Losses:
RB Travis Etienne (1st rd Draft)
LT Jackson Carman (2nd rd Draft)
RB Chez Mellusi (Transfer)

Key Returnees:
RB Lyn-J Dixon
OT Jordan McFadden
OG Matt Bockhorst
OG Will Putnam

Key Additions:
RB Will Shipley
RB Phil Mafah
OT Tristan Leigh

2020 Stats:
Avg Yds per Game – 153.8 (11th in the ACC; 75th in the Nation)
Avg Yards per Carry – 4.49 (7th in the ACC; 58th in the Nation)
Total Rush TDs – 33 (2nd in the ACC; 5th in the Nation)

The discussion about the Clemson running game must begin with the loss of Clemson’s and the ACC’s all-time leading rusher in Etienne and who will replace him? These, of course, are some exceptionally large shoes to fill. With 190 yards on 42 carries for a 4.5 yard per carry average, Lyn-J Dixon was Clemson’s #2 RB last year, and it looks like, in game one at least, that the rising senior will be the one to carry the torch. Dixon’s 2020 stats may be slightly deceiving as his 2018 and 2019 campaigns showed much more promise with YPC averages of 8.8 and 6.1 respectively. Most would attribute the sharp decline to lackluster run blocking up front rather than a lack of growth or even a decline in skillset. Lyn-J will have to prove he can carry the load after playing Robin to Etienne’s Batman over the last 3 years. The most likely to share the load or even compete for the starting role, at least early on, is rising sophomore Kobe Pace. His tough, physical running opened some eyes during the spring this year and Pace seems to be a good compliment to Dixon. Also, Clemson fans are extremely high on true freshmen Will Shipley and Phil Mafah. Both look to have a bright future but may not be quite seasoned enough to see much playing time in such an important opening-game contest.

With all that being said about the RB position, the most important factor for Clemson to regain their rushing prowess will be improvement in run blocking up front. 2020 was a rebuilding year for the OL after losing four starters from the year before, and the results were not up to Clemson’s standards. A lack of depth and proven experience really held back the running game to the tune of dropping to 75th in the nation in yards per game from 13th in the nation the year before. Going into 2021, Clemson will have to replace arguably their best OL in 2nd round draft pick LT Jackson Carman. Redshirt JR Jordan McFadden will battle to fill that spot. Despite his lack of prototypical size for an OT at 6’2”, McFadden had a successful first year of starting at RT in 2020 becoming the highest rated returning OT in the ACC according to PFF at 88.3. Matt Bockhorst (PFF grade 61.1) and Will Putnam (PFF grade 63.7) will return to man the LG and RG spots. Clemson is hoping another year of experience will help them to improve their play on the interior. Highly touted rising sophomore Walker Parks will compete for one of the starting spots at tackle after earning freshman All-American honors last season in a backup role. The starting center job looks to be a battle between redshirt sophomores Hunter Rayburn (PFF 57.3) and Mason Trotter (PFF 65.1). In summary, I would venture to say the tackle positions seem to be in competent but maybe not elite hands, while the interior of the line will need to show huge improvements from last year, for the Clemson running game to reclaim its previously set standard.



UGA

Key Losses:
OLB Azeez Ojulari (2nd rd Draft)
ILB Monty Rice (3rd rd Draft)
DE Malik Herring (Undrafted FA)

Key Returnees:
NT Jordan Davis
DE Travon Walker
ILB Nakobe Dean
DE Devonte Wyatt

Key Additions:
None that will have playing time game one

2020 Stats:
Avg Yds per Game Allowed – 72.3 (1st in the SEC; 1st in the Nation)
Avg Yards per Carry Allowed – 2.39 (1st in the SEC; 1st in the Nation)
Total Rush TDs Allowed – 8 (2nd in the SEC; 21st in the Nation)

Rush defense always starts up front, and UGA’s DL returns 4 of the top 5 lineman from last year’s rotation along the 3-man front. Returning starter at Nose, Jordan Davis, is the catalyst, as his size (6’6” 340lbs) and athletic ability require special attention from the opposing OL. The rising SR returned to Athens despite late first to early second round projections in the NFL draft. His strength is being able to hold the point even with double teams, but he needs work on being consistent when rushing the passer. Devonte Wyatt took advantage of the “free” year to come back for a redo of his SR year, and the two-year starter hopes to lead the DL in tackles once again. Rounding out the returners to the DL rotation are Travon Walker and Jalen Carter. Despite not having as much experience, these two may have the highest upside on the Dawg defensive line. Walker had a slight sophomore slump after a very promising FR campaign, but after slimming down some this offseason he looks to get considerably more PT in his 5-technique position.

https://twitter.com/PFF_Brent/status/1389953941140606987?s=20

At ILB JR Nakobe Dean, UGA’s leading tackler from last year, will be returning to man the middle. He is slightly undersized but has a nose for the football and speed to burn. The other inside spot will be manned by a combination of seniors Quay Walker and Channing Tindall. Walker, at 6’4” 240 lbs, is a freak athlete and looks to be the main guy along side Dean in the base D. On the edge, UGA will have two upperclassmen that are former 5-stars in Nolan Smith and Adam Anderson. Smith will take over for 2nd rd draft pick Azeez Ojulari, and he has the tools to be a good one. On the other side Anderson, already a beast at pass rushing, will look to settle in as a three down defender.

https://twitter.com/JimNagy_SB/status/1402617534256279557?s=20

In summary for the run defense, UGA returns a bevy of experienced upperclassmen who look to build on last years first in the nation rush defense.

TL;DR – What may be Clemson’s biggest question marks on offense, replacing Travis Etienne and how much the interior OL improves in the run game, run square into the teeth of what may be UGA’s biggest strength on defense stopping the run. The most interesting matchup will be UGA’s Jordan Davis vs. the winner of the battle to start at C for Clemson. If that person can handle Davis 1-on-1 or with a well-executed combo block that could open up some lanes for Pace in the interior or help get Dixon to the edge. But if Clemson is forced to double Davis all day that will leave UGA’s athletic LBs with space to get to the RBs with minimal gain. My guess is that Clemson will need to rely on DJU in the short yardage run game to get an extra blocker for a numbers advantage and that Dixon and maybe even Shipley will be utilized in the short passing game to help overcome a possible lack of effectiveness in the run game.

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Re: Clemson Rush Offense vs. UGA Rush Defense

[3]
Jun 14, 2021, 12:26 PM
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We’re doomed.

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Re: Clemson Rush Offense vs. UGA Rush Defense

[3]
Jun 14, 2021, 12:51 PM
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Wow, we shouldn’t even show up in Charlotte...

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Pack it in boys. We won’t be able to


Jun 14, 2021, 9:52 PM
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Use our normal game plan of running up the middle 60 times.

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Re: Clemson Rush Offense vs. UGA Rush Defense

[3]
Jun 14, 2021, 12:45 PM
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Game plan will definitely not be to run up the gut. That’s just not smart. Biggest weakness for UGA is secondary and I fully expect us to go after them and go after them often. Once UGA gets torched a few times that will open up some running lanes. I also expect to get our RB out in space. They’ll have to be used in short passing game. I’ll be happy with 100 total yards rushing.

But on the flip side I don’t see UGA trying to run up the gut on us either. We have a strong interior DLine with Bresee and Davis. Not to mention good backups in Tre Williams, Capehart, and Page. They’ll have to get creative in the run game as well.

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Re: Clemson Rush Offense vs. UGA Rush Defense

[1]
Jun 14, 2021, 12:50 PM
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Next time…
Just post a link to wherever you cut and paste that from…

I’m guessing it’s from a UGA fan site..

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Re: Clemson Rush Offense vs. UGA Rush Defense

[1]
Jun 14, 2021, 1:42 PM
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It's my own

I like to learn more about upcoming opponents, and typically posts like this can get interesting discussions going

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Re: Clemson Rush Offense vs. UGA Rush Defense


Jun 14, 2021, 1:45 PM
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Clemson certainly has a great DL, and I expect they'll do some of the same things that Cincinnati and Miss State did to disrupt UGA on the ground

If Clemson does get 100 on the ground they probably win by 14.

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UGa also played just one team with an actual run game.

[1]
Jun 14, 2021, 1:05 PM
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null




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Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.


Re: UGa also played just one team with an actual run game.

[1]
Jun 14, 2021, 1:59 PM
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Bama, UK, and Cincinnati were all able to average ~3.5 yards a carry last year against UGA and they were also the the three best running teams statistically speaking as well. All three were ranked well ahead of Clemson in the run game last year. I'm not sure the '21 version of Clemson will be abe to get to 3.5 ypc against the Dawgs.

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Re: UGa also played just one team with an actual run game.


Jun 14, 2021, 2:02 PM
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Whatever comforts you at night.

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Re: Clemson Rush Offense vs. UGA Rush Defense

[1]
Jun 14, 2021, 1:07 PM
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No team does less with more than UGA. The more they spend, the more they lose. It's both pitiful and funny.

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Maybe that's a mismatch, but...


Jun 14, 2021, 1:23 PM
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Let's say Clemson's rush against UGA is lopsided in UGA's favor.

The problem remains that Clemson's offense is greater than the sum of its parts, and the rush is just one of them. DJ Uiagaleilei alone creates a bit of a natural mismatch on the field because of his ability to run and his elite passing fundamentals, not to mention DJ beating Trevor Lawrence's single-game passing record in his very first start as a Tiger.

If DJ is passing all day long & UGA adjusts, the run opens up. They don't have to be elite to have success. But make no mistake, there are some elite-level rushers at Clemson, and they're gonna eat.

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Re: Maybe that's a mismatch, but...


Jun 14, 2021, 2:04 PM
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It's certainly true that nothing happens in a vacuum in football. All areas of the game affect one another.

I think that DJUs ability to run seems to be a bit overstated on T-Net. He's certainly dangerous in the short yardage game with his size alone, but anytime he's carrying the ball is a win for the Georgia defense as it means he wasn't able to get the ball out to one of his truly dangerous playmakers

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Re: Maybe that's a mismatch, but...


Jun 14, 2021, 2:07 PM
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Agreed. I don't want to run DJ at all, and we can still win; we need him healthy thanks to depth issues at QB, but just the THREAT of him to run (& to consequently be deliberately targeted by the UGA defense) creates something of a mismatch.

The more DJ throws, the better. He doesn't NEED to run at all, even if it is an x-factor; the RB corp, though, is going to get plenty of yards thanks to DJ being tasks with passing.

With DJ as an elite passer, absolutely I'm excited about the running game.

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Re: Maybe that's a mismatch, but...


Jun 14, 2021, 2:13 PM
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;With DJ as an elite passer, absolutely I'm excited about the running game.


But T-Law was also an elite passer, and more dangerous with his legs than DJU. The running game still struggled even with one of the all timers getting the bulk of the carries

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Re: Maybe that's a mismatch, but...


Jun 14, 2021, 2:31 PM
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Agreed, both Trevor Lawrence & DJ are elite passers.

DJ may have an even higher ceiling than Trevor, FWIW. Obviously can't say for sure, and you're right about the running game struggling before, but the changes on the o-line are inescapable.

You may be right that it all comes down to how much the o-line has improved, though, for sure. It's crucial.

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Re: Maybe that's a mismatch, but...


Jun 14, 2021, 2:52 PM
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Are there any interior OL that are pushing the two returning starters or other centers that weren't mentioned in the mix?

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Re: Maybe that's a mismatch, but...


Jun 14, 2021, 2:58 PM
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I suppose I see the returners as a strength, though; experience trumps most, and let's be brutally honest here, it's not like the line came anywhere close to hitting their ceiling last year.

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Re: Maybe that's a mismatch, but...


Jun 14, 2021, 9:46 PM
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Yeah, you have to wonder how high that ceiling is with the current group slated to start. McFadden will almost certainly get drafted in the middle rounds, but his future is at guard not tackle. Parks seems draftable with his current trajectory, but I don't think anyone is reasonably expecting the starting guards or two guys competing at center to get their names called. Clemson's OL recruiting has picked up the last couple of years, but the fruits of those labors may not be quite ripe yet.

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Re: Maybe that's a mismatch, but...

[1]
Jun 14, 2021, 9:56 PM
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Small correction. I probably sold Putnam a little short in that last post. He's got a couple years more to develop into a draftable guy.

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Re: Maybe that's a mismatch, but...


Jun 15, 2021, 11:57 AM
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Tchio, Mayes, and Tucker were highly recruited 4-star interior lineman in the 2020 class. I expect a push for significant playing time from one, possibly two, from this group.

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Re: Maybe that's a mismatch, but...

[2]
Jun 14, 2021, 2:53 PM
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We don't know if DJU's running is overstated. He had a banged up shoulder in the games that he started last year. Not sure if his inexperience might show against Georgia but down the road I expect to see him be effective especially with RPO's.

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Re: Maybe that's a mismatch, but...


Jun 14, 2021, 3:01 PM
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Good point.

Bottom line, when DJ had to throw and was told NOT to run because of the shoulder injury, he did it exceptionally well.

If he can run, all it takes is one good, explosive run to open the passing game even more (& vice versa with the run game overall).

I do think it's a complete offense; even if DJ's running in the UGA matchup is completely opportunistic, it's certainly a legitimate threat; Alabama's Mac Jones didn't have that and still beat UGA (albeit UGA was the only team that was ahead of Alabama at the half if I remember right).

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Re: Maybe that's a mismatch, but...

[1]
Jun 14, 2021, 5:34 PM
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You are correct. UGA was up 24-20 at the half even with a former walk-on at QB.

But back to DJU. I do agree that merely the threat of running is important to the Clemson scheme. He doesn't have to be as effective of a runner as a Watson or T-Law to still have the threat of a QB run affect the defense. Unlike a JT Daniels, he does possess that level of athleticism to be able to force the defense to respect the possibility of a run. With that being said, he's not a threat to house it or even break off explosive runs on a regular basis, but maybe that's all you need.

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Re: Maybe that's a mismatch, but...


Jun 14, 2021, 6:53 PM
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Clearly one of the big differences in the ND loss versus win was not having the RPO wrinkle with DJU in there. I’m not excited to hold my breath every time he runs the ball this year, just like with TL last year, except now QB depth has to be a major factor in the game plan.

The UGA game is big enough that I don’t mind using a healthy dose DJ in the run game, but it will probably look more like Taj than TL. Hopefully, we can have more of a short yardage success with an RB versus Taj’s years where he did most of that work.

Look, UGA’s D-line is elite and in the same category as ours. We are unlikely to have a massive day on the ground, but we’ll have to pound the rock enough to keep a balanced threat. Success with the bubble screens and swing passes will be an important part of our “run” game, even though they’ll count as passes.

The game is most likely going to be close and come down to 3rd down and short conversions. If we can pick some of those up on the ground and keep the D honest, we’ll be in good shape. If they can control the run with just their front 4 like OSU did, it’s going to be a lot harder to sustain drives and win field position.

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Re: Maybe that's a mismatch, but...


Jun 14, 2021, 7:32 PM
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Thats interesting about the two ND games. Looks like DJU had 13 attempts for 2 total yards with two sacks in the second overtime that made his true rushing total 11 attempts for 16 yards with a long of 2 yards. Were most of those scrambles for a yard or two or designed runs in your recollection?

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Re: Maybe that's a mismatch, but...


Jun 14, 2021, 7:56 PM
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Pocket breakdown scrambles. Nothing designed was called.

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Re: Maybe that's a mismatch, but...

[1]
Jun 14, 2021, 8:35 PM
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Well the stark difference in effectiveness from the first ND game to the second certainly makes more sense now with that information.

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Re: Maybe that's a mismatch, but...


Jun 14, 2021, 8:43 PM
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You may already know this, but with his shoulder, they basically made him one dimensional with no running designed in. It remains to be seen what kind of a rush game with DJ looks like. I picture more of a TB style, but better first step.

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Re: Maybe that's a mismatch, but...

[1]
Jun 14, 2021, 9:25 PM
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I wonder how much the injury to Clemson's second stringer will force the play calling toward less RPO/QB designed runs especially if the two FR both choose baseball?

It seems like they almost can't lessen the role of the QB in the run game if the results are that dramatically different, but on the other hand an injury to DJU pretty much tanks the season. Tough situation

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Re: Maybe that's a mismatch, but...


Jun 14, 2021, 9:33 PM
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My guess is it will be gas pedal RPO. The Oline play, of course, will tell the story from that point forward. The coaches make it clear that the QB run is paramount to our offense.

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Re: Maybe that's a mismatch, but...


Jun 14, 2021, 5:37 PM
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He'll be effective in the sense that he has enough wheels to force the defense to account for him on a RPO, but he's not a guy that scares a defense with his legs. I'd much rather the ball be in his hands than say Ajou Ajou's or Kobe Pace's or any number of Clemson guys.

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