Topic: Spring Game thoughts
Replies: 31   Last Post: Apr 8, 2019 7:01 AM by: Orange Lightning
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Spring Game thoughts

Posted: Apr 6, 2019 7:44 PM


TL-DR VERSION FOR THE TWITTER CREW: We rule college football with an iron fist right now, though I'm somewhat concerned about TE, OL depth. And oh, yeah, if I wasn't a Clemson fan, I'd freakin' HATE Clemson right now. We're that good.

The obvious takeaway from today: we are stupidly, ridiculously loaded. Again. I see no way Clemson is not the overwhelming favorite to win the National Title...again. We actually look a bit like a team somebody built on Madden, with the salary cap feature turned to "off". I just kind of shake my head right now.

Mind, we'll still probably do what we do early on in seasons, which is play a boatload of young guys, look somewhat clunky and occasionally underwhelming in September, and maybe win some unexpected squeakers with a minimum of style points...all while largely keeping the gameplans vanilla, playing about 75+ guys a game, and getting the newbs dry behind the ears and a functional rotation and pecking order established. You know what happens then: Alabama and probably some other Flavor Of the Moment - you know, UGA, Oklahoma, Ohio State, whoever - will be merrily running up the scores on outmatched opponents, the TV pundits, sportswriters, and talking heads will go all knee-jerk and over-react, and Clemson will drop to #2 and probably #3. Dabo will gleefully start poor-mouthing it and talking about things like the ROY Bus while quietly plotting exactly how he's going to run everyone down with that bus in the postseason. By midseason we'll be looking better...and by November, Clemson will be back curb-stomping opponents and rounding into peak form as our depth and experience starts taking over games and other teams are wearing down and getting a book of film on them.

We know this will happen because we've seen it happen at least 4-5 times over the last five years now, and Clemson's got a boatload of new faces to work in this year. But Oh My do those newbs look good.

Just off the top of my head, my thoughts on offense:

* Ladson and Ngata look pretty much like clones of Higgins and Ross, talentwise. Which is ridiculous. Curious to see who will take that slot position, Powell or TJ Chase...but I actually like Powell's physicality in there and he seems to have a feel for working the underneath coverages. Add in Overton and you've got what looks like a 7-man rotation of guys who will play Sundays, and we've got a fleet of Lamborghini's and Ferrari's at outside WR. Agree with the notion we have at least 4 future first-rounders at WR right now. Which is just silly, not to mention unfair, when you also have probably the future overall #1 pick throwing them balls in TL16.

* Concerned about the TE spot. You can see the talent - and the rawness - of Jaelyn Lay, and it's looking more and more like Braden Galloway may have to sit the year due to that osterine incident...which is a shame, because he's clearly coming on huge, looks absolutely prototype. Still think we do a lot of 10p (4 WR, 1 RB, no TE) sets this year due to that and the fact that the WR corps is so strong, but Tony Elliot also traditionally lives most comfortably in 11p because it activates the run game.

* Our OL is going to be HUGE this year but I'm iffy on the backups. Jackson Carman, John Simpson, and Gage Cervanka are pure brutes but both teams' OL got skunked pretty bad today. Did notice Pollard on roller skates at times at C, mostly courtesy of (cough) early enrollee Tyler Davis, so some concern there. And do we have the depth to roll 8+ like we have been doing the last few years? Hope so.

* Oh, and yeah: WE ARE SO FREAKING SPOILED AT QB. Any other program would be doing cartwheels over Taisun Phommachanh's potential...and we have the luxury of bringing him along slowly because we have Trevor and Chase Brice ahead of him, so he's basically going to be in Witness Protection the next couple years. But Phommachanh looks like he's in the same league, talentwise, as a Deshaun Watson, or very close to it...and that's just gotten to be the New Normal at Clemson. Speaking of Brice, not only can we still win with Brice, honestly, he's so good I suspect Clemson would hardly drop off much if at all with him under center for an extended period. Could he be the third-best (or certainly a Top-5) QB in Clemson history, behind only DW4 and TL16 and maybe Tajh Boyd and Charlie Whitehurst? It's possible. Brice is real good, people, whatever.

Overall, the most talented offense in college football history? Maybe...if the OL develops adequate depth, and we can get something out of the TE spot. You can make a very convincing argument this group is potentially even more talented than that 2004 Southern Cal squad.

Will they play to that level? Well, that's why you line up and play the game....

As for my thoughts on defense...

* It was actually easy to forget a lot of times that Clemson was short its top 5 DT's from last year, the three guys going NFL plus Pinckney and Jordan Williams, because the next guys up filled that admirably. Tyler Davis is a full-grown man and he's an early enrollee. Not sure anybody's going to stop that youngster from grabbing a starting spot; as mentioned above he ate Pollard's lunch pretty comprehensively today. Watch the tape. Davis leaps off it.

* No joke - I think our ends might have actually improved from last year. Dunno if there's anybody quite as imposing as Cle Missile individually but that collection of Xavier Thomas, Justin Foster, KJ Henry, Logan Rudolph, and Justin Mascoll is, IMHO, as a position group collectively better than what we had last year. They're all future NFL and a lot of them are going to go high.

* We have a Viking-longship-sized boatload of very active LB's and safeties...and we also have at least three pure killers at CB right now. This could be the best secondary in Venables' tenure. Go ahead and pencil AJ Terrell as an early enrollee into the NFL; he's the latest first-or-second-round guy there and he's gone after 2019, IMHO. Derion Kendrick got beat once by Ross but brutally clamped down the rest of the time on whoever he was on and he looks like a future top-half-of-the-first-round guy to my eyes; he's got effortless hip turn, incredible natural ball skills, and an attitude you can't knock down with a hammer. You can see why the coaches are so excited about him; Kendrick's a very talented WR; he's got truly rare tools as a CB. Sheridan Jones is a head-turning talent himself; I actually think he looks better, at this point, than either Trayvon Mullen or AJ Terrell did as freshmen...which is even more impressive when you consider Jones isn't actually even officially a freshman yet.

All those new moving pieces may give us some busts early on in the season, but the talent level is, again, ridiculous. I was expecting a drop-off, especially early on in the season, and there may be some busts due to inexperience but this is easily a Top-10 and probably a Top-5 defense again.

Oh, and I also noticed a lot of live legs out there in the kicking game attached to very young guys. Booming punts. Long field goals. Unreturnable kickoffs. A lot of hidden yards for Clemson, in other words.

Like I said...if I didn't love Clemson so much...I would really hate Clemson right now.

Re: Spring Game thoughts

Posted: Apr 6, 2019 8:11 PM

Great breakdown q. Gotta get my man Lay some stickem.

2020 white level member

Re: Spring Game thoughts

Posted: Apr 6, 2019 8:19 PM

Hope that we don't start out slow in 2019. We open with Ga Tech, A&M, and Syracuse. That doesn't give the boys any time to grow up.

Otherwise, I agree that this team has great talent. And think about this: With the talent we may sign next February, next year's team may be even more talented. Go Tigers!!!

Re: Spring Game thoughts

Posted: Apr 6, 2019 8:25 PM

Good analysis...re Ladson and Gnata, raw talent was on display with big numbers from both early-enrollees. And they are going to get better as they learn the game. Both had long ball opportunities where they "locked up" with the DB too early and didn't get to the ball as a result. There's a time where the arm goes out and establishes contact, but especially Ladson is going to have to learn to trust his speed and run past guys then "feel" them later when the ball is coming. Trevor can get it out there, and they slowed down too soon instead of running through the route.

Re: Spring Game thoughts

Posted: Apr 6, 2019 8:31 PM

I guess the announcers could not pronounce "Phommachanh", so they never called his name (unless I missed it and I listened hard for it). The kid is gooooood - real good.

We hit home runs with Ngata and Ladson - AWESOME.

The Jet Sweep I was hoping to see with Kendrick did not work, so not sure we'll see that play a lot.

We have 2 (maybe 3) of the best QB's in the entire ACC, and maybe the entire country.

Terrell is just plain awesome. 'nuff said.

I felt sorry for Kendrick on KO returns, as they let Potter kick off, and they were consistently in or thru the EZ, so Kendrick just watched them. Dabo should have let someone else kick a few so Kendrick could return some KO's.

Yes - Tee Higgins and Ross are still beyond awesome. Pros playing in college unis.

Dixon only had a couple of good runs IMO. I still think they need to get him in space with the ball. He does not runs thru tackles like ETN, but give him some space and you can't catch him. C'mon guys, you can figure how to do that. It's worth a shot.

ETN is interesting on KOR. I would hate to be the poor soul that has to tackle him when he's at full speed.

60K fans in attendance today. My first time in 5-6 years due to bad health. Dang, I had to stop halfway up the hill towards the stadium to rest a couple of minutes. I never remember those hills bothering me when I was 18. Where did those 50 years go?

Love my TIGERS! Dang it, I went to the bball game, but "standing room only", and I can't do that any longer, so I missed getting to watch them play today.

Re: Spring Game thoughts

Posted: Apr 6, 2019 8:37 PM

the coaches may have not wanted to see KO returns anyway.

Split Squads Hard to Judge.

Posted: Apr 7, 2019 11:53 AM

As it was mentioned earlier; OL cohesion is greatly affected by playing besides guys you normally don't practice with( 1's with 2' or 3's in any combination). So there is that!
This affects "everything else". By everything else: "I mean everything"!

For example, was the DL that stout or was the OL play affected by lack of playing time together. If the QB didn't have time to set his feet b/c of the OL play and "quick whistle" when a defender got close to a QB; could that have affected timing? The running game of course is a direct reflection; but can you judge your RB's on not having a ton of yards?

All of that to say this: "the coaches were looking for guys who wanted it"! The situation was not ideal: "on purpose"! I love the concept and it doesn't give SEC-PN an early look at what our team will look like. It does however, make the cream rise to the top! Players will make plays and effort guys who want it will bust behind! Yesterday provided the coaches an opportunity to get video they can break down man for man and evaluate who loafs, who does not loaf. Who competes even when down or a play is busted and "who does not"!
Watch most spring game and they aren't as physical. Herbie and Joey even asked Coach Swinney about that directly. This is part of the process of evaluation and that's how Clemson does it; "I don't know about everybody else"!
You have to go back and watch it not for big plays but for who carried out their assignments properly? Who didn't give up on a route? Who gave great effort?
You will see a much different game! The Tigers are putting in work and will be ready come the GT game. Also mentioned above; Vonta Bentley, Andrew Booth, more unnamed have not got on campus yet. The guys we have who are here are doing fine and getting better each and every day! Some of the small things you look for showed up and I could not be happier!

A few guys I think need to add some weight over summer(Foster, Jefferies, Rudolph); but otherwise yesterday was a big success!

Re: Spring Game thoughts

Posted: Apr 6, 2019 8:39 PM

you just melted my brain. Although you issued a warning, you did not have me sigh a release, so my attorney will be contacting you soon. ; )

You should get paid to do this***

Posted: Apr 6, 2019 8:56 PM


Re: Spring Game thoughts

Posted: Apr 6, 2019 9:27 PM

I was encouraged by the defense, so I don't see any squeakers on our regular season schedule. I'm not sure that I would worry too much about the offensive line either. The defense doesn't have to play the read option honestly when it is 1 hand touch on the quarterback. Maybe that is why the defense looked better than I thought they would. Today, may be TL's only loss in a Clemson uniform.

Re: Spring Game thoughts

Posted: Apr 6, 2019 10:11 PM

If Brice started we would still win , I LOVE Sheridan Jones#26, Defensive line will be FINE. They will be household names SOON. So GREATFUL to be a part of TIGER NATION. Thanks to ALL of Dabo's former players who are the FOUNDATION of this program. If we put 4 receivers on the field ...................... SMH Go Tigers!!!!!!

Re: Spring Game thoughts

Posted: Apr 7, 2019 11:56 PM

Hunter kept telling us last year when the QBs were battling that Chase was an excellent QB. He got to prove it in the Syracuse game and he too will get better

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Re: Spring Game thoughts

Posted: Apr 8, 2019 7:01 AM

Dabo said it best when he told Kirk H. that Chase Brice will play on Sundays.

Re: Spring Game thoughts

Posted: Apr 7, 2019 6:38 AM

Great analysis. Keep them coming! Thanks for taking the time to write this up - love every one of your posts.

Re: Spring Game thoughts

Posted: Apr 7, 2019 7:38 AM

As a reminder, the 2019 class is not done having an impact on this team. Several on the defense will coming in the summer, including Kane Patterson, McGuire, Andrew Booth, Jaylyn Phillips and a few others. The hardest part of all this is the coaching staff trying to get everyone time on the field as I don't see a weak link on the offense or defense, especially if Clemson can get this situation with Galloway sorted out. The rest of the ACC is going to be running into a buzz saw. The good thing about having young talent on this defense is they are good and they are hungry and anxious to prove themselves. Good luck rest of conference.


Re: Spring Game thoughts

Posted: Apr 7, 2019 7:52 AM

Good stuff quozzel. Good stuff.

Re: Spring Game thoughts

Posted: Apr 7, 2019 7:54 AM

I thought McMichael played pretty solid at CB as well. We are gonna be dang good for sure. Hope Galloway gets cleared tho he could be the difference maker in us being great or not on O.

Good post, and I agree...

Posted: Apr 7, 2019 8:24 AM

But to conclude...

The game was abit sloppy to me, but I suppose like U said. Might just be we're abit spoiled.
Next, I think this will be Venables/Reed's best secondary, but... Seem like alot of holding
out there on our receivers that won't be "let go" in an actual game. I like the talent we
have back there, but wonder how much good coaching they're getting.
Agree about TE, it's a concern and like you. Don't think we're getting BG back this year.
On the offense..
Thought there would had been alot more success with all the talent returning.
Punting...Still bad, IMO.
About all I have 4 now.

Re: Spring Game thoughts

Posted: Apr 7, 2019 8:56 AM

Thanks for taking the time to write this up, so nice to see some football talk around here. So happy that I lived long enough to see these happy days. I distinctly remember jumping for joy one year when Clemson was predicted as a preseason #19 and I was thrilled.

Re: Spring Game thoughts

Posted: Apr 8, 2019 12:01 AM

Me too I remember the days of being excited to be ranked in the top 25. Times have really changed and I’m going to cherish what we have right now

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Go Tigers! Once A Tiger Always A Tiger

Re: Spring Game thoughts

Posted: Apr 7, 2019 9:15 AM

I think Brice is great too, but you really think there would be little to no drop off in play at the position if he had to start instead of TL? That’s just fan delusion. TL is clearly more accurate, throws harder, is more athletic, and makes better and quicker reads. It’s not even close. No one in the country is close to TL and won’t be for the next 3 years until he finally goes pro.

Generally agree

Posted: Apr 7, 2019 9:19 AM

I don’t see this DL on par with last years but not sure I ever will. I think you over-stated the DE situation a bit. They will be good but better than last year.....doubtful.

LB play was uninspiring and is clearly the weak spot on Def. secondary looks legit though.

I agree the OL is still a bit of a mystery. We should be good to above average as splitting up this position is always challenging in the Spring Game. Jaelyn Lyn is talented but doesn’t have great hands, hopefully that can improve over the summer as I think Galloway is going to have to sit.

Offense looks ridiculous otherwise and should score at will in most games.

Fun times indeed for Clemson fans and appreciate the thoughtful write-up!

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I mean this in a positive way but Ngata looks like he has

Posted: Apr 7, 2019 9:41 AM

plenty of room to improve and he's already really dang good and has the body of an upperclassman that's been in a college weight room for multiple years. He looked a little clunky and unsure of what he was doing on a few routes. I think that's just inexperience and a lack of timing and understanding with this QB. That will surely come with time and reps. Kid is going to be a monster.

Ladson is very, very smooth.

Galloway looked great out there which makes me sad because he's likely going to miss the season.

I'm not sure how to evaluate the OL in this kind of situation. They were bad yesterday, there's really no denying that. Pass protection was rather poor and neither team could run the ball at all. BUT, the deck is really stacked against them in this kind of situation. Split squad hurts unit cohesion which is pretty important on an OL and if a defender gets anywhere near the QB it's ruled a sack. There were multiple "sacks" yesterday where the QB could've rather easily sidestepped the defender and extended the play.

2020 white level member

Re: Spring Game thoughts

Posted: Apr 7, 2019 12:14 PM

Thanks so much for a great breakdown. Any thoughts on punting? I didn’t get to watch the whole game.
As far as this being too long, I am a Clemson graduate and reading an article of relativity short length is not difficult. Further, the subject matter is so enjoyable it’s a pleasure to read it. When anyone complains, I wonder if they finished college.

2020 orange level member

This is EXACTLY what I saw today.

Posted: Apr 7, 2019 1:39 PM

The future is extremely bright! I was overwhelmed by the play of our re-tooled defense... just jaw dropping. Wonderful time in Clemson yesterday! The spring game is such a treat. I haven’t been in a few years. You can park wherever you can find a spot and there are no arrogant police officers or police cars blinding people or getting in everyone’s way. I understand game days bring in thousands more cars and people but I’m convinced the police actually slow things down to a crawl and do more harm then good.

Re: Spring Game thoughts

Posted: Apr 7, 2019 6:43 PM

Yep, I can't wait to hear about all the talent we lost, and how we're back in the R O Y bus and deserving to be riding in the R O Y Bus!!! :)

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Re: Spring Game thoughts

Posted: Apr 7, 2019 7:07 PM

I look at the spring game As an evaluation of the individual rather than a team effort because of the method used to determine the teams. I was impressed by our DBs, particularly S. Jones. They were hanging with our WRs pretty good and they are not yet "polished". Getting a lot of our 2019 signees in early is also a huge plus. Davis is a stud, he looks like a young kid in a superman's body and I believe he will push to be a starter.

I know of no one who was injured yesterday so that was one of my fulfilled wishes. IT'T GREAT TO BE A TIGER and just think, THE BEST IS YET TO COME !!!!!!!

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Re: Spring Game thoughts

Posted: Apr 7, 2019 7:15 PM

DK is going to be an absolute STUD wherever he plays

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My thoughts were XT is a beast and is unblockable***

Posted: Apr 7, 2019 9:44 PM

Re: Spring Game thoughts

Posted: Apr 7, 2019 11:39 PM

Re: OL.. Essentially your current 1st team was on the White side... Close battle still for C. Mystery is for LT.. Why not JC on the White team with all the others??? Real competition or off field issues??

Regards backups or Freshmen... EE Freshmen will get about 1/4 of the reps. Hardly enough to develop the team work required.. so they are going to suck from the get go. With Cade moving to C, the real battle shaping up for fall will be the backup at RG for Cervenka. I'd assume that Bockhorst will be cross-trained enough to switch sides if needed, but barring that, who is #2 on the chart?

Re: Spring Game thoughts

Posted: Apr 7, 2019 11:58 PM

Excellent analysis. I’m wishing my summer away right now. So ready to see these guys gel

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Go Tigers! Once A Tiger Always A Tiger

As usual, great analysis and reflection.

Posted: Apr 8, 2019 6:55 AM

Enjoyed it.

2020 orange level member

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