Numbers back up talk of offensive struggles


by - Correspondent -
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Deon Cain and Deshaun Watson during Saturday's win over Troy
Deon Cain and Deshaun Watson during Saturday's win over Troy

There has been a lot of talk about the struggles the Clemson offense has faced in its first two games – albeit wins – as the offense hasn’t been able to get into much of a rhythm.

The NCAA’s statistical rankings back up that talk.

While the Tigers are tied for first in winning percentage with the other 48 undefeated teams in the country, the offensive numbers aren’t what many expected from that unit entering the season.

The Tigers are 41st in passing offense (270 yards per game), but that is the only major offensive category in which Clemson is in the top 50. Clemson's rushing offense is ranked 92nd at 136.5 yards per game.

Things are a bit better for the Clemson defense as it ranks 42nd in scoring defense at 18.5 points per game, 43rd in rushing defense at 114.0 yards per game and 48th in total defense at 324.0 yards per game.

Two key numbers for the Tigers have been tackles for loss (tied for fourth nationally at 11 per game) and turnovers forced (tied for sixth with six).

While quarterback Deshaun Watson was one of the national leaders in just about every offensive category last year, his numbers have been pedestrian to open the season. He ranks in the top five in only a few categories so far.

The most notable are completions per game (tied for 18th with 23.0 per game); total offensive yards per game (308.0); and total passing yards (26th with 540).

On defense, linebacker Ben Boulware is in the top 50 in three categories: forced fumbles per game: (tied for 19th with 0.5); interceptions per game (tied for 28th with 0.5); and total interceptions (tied for 25th with one).

Clemson’s special teams have been solid through the first two games, and the Tigers have two individuals who lead the nation in a special teams stat. Greg Huegel has made all five of his field goal tries to tie for first nationally in field goal percentage, while Ray-Ray McCloud is first in punt return average at 32.0 yards per return.

Other top 50 NCAA rankings:
TEAM
Offense

Sacks allowed: Tied for seventh with 0.5.
Tackles for loss allowed: Tied for 22nd with four.
Turnover margin: Tied for 37th with 0.5.

Defense
Third-down percentage defense: Fifth at 15 percent.
Fumbles recovered: Tied for 49th with one.
Red-zone defense: Tied for 19th at 66.7 percent.
Passing efficiency defense: 30th at 97.17.

Special teams
Blocked kicks allowed: Tied for first with zero.
Blocked punts allowed: Tied for first with zero.
Kickoff return defense: Sixth with 11.2 yards per return
Punt return defense: Tied for 47th with 4.0 yards per return.
Punt returns: Third with 32.0 yards per return.

INDIVIDUAL
Offense

Passing yards per game: Watson, 29th with 270.0 per game.
Receiving yards: Mike Williams, tied for 27th with 198.
Receiving yards per game: Williams, tied for 28th with 99.0.

Defense
Passes defensed per game: Jadar Johnson, tied for 11th with 2.0.
Tackles for loss per game: Kendall Joseph, tied for eighth with 2.5.
Tackles per game: Van Smith, tied for 32nd with 10.0.

Special teams
Field goals per game: Huegel, tied for fourth with 2.5.

*Daniel Shirley is the sports editor of The Telegraph in Macon, Ga., and co-host of The Midday Sports Zone on Middle Georgia’s ESPN, 93.1 FM and 99.5 FM. Follow him on Twitter at @DM_Shirley and read his blog at macon.com/peachsports


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