Roy Martin: UGA - Clemson Post Game Analysis


by - Correspondent -
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Interference?

For the next three weeks it will seem as though Clemson has scheduled a one game season. Not until kickoff of the Georgia Tech game will fans quit talking about Georgia. Win that game and the Georgia talk will resume until kickoff of the Maryland game. Lose the Georgia Tech game and things will get far nastier than one can imagine.


If the majority of Clemson's fan base had their say so right now, Tommy Bowden would be cleaning out his office...and many of them would offer their help. Maybe that is what he deserves.


Then again, maybe he deserves the opportunity to coach the remaining 11 games just to see if he can get things going in the right direction. After all, what good will come from firing a coach in the middle of the season?


Clemson lost to a good Georgia team that is far more talented. No one in his or her right mind should argue otherwise. As embarrassing as the loss was, it may not have been as bad as it seemed. Of course, minus a few boneheaded play calls by Mark Richt and it could have possibly been a little worse.


There were a few bright spots. The defense as a whole played fairly well for just over three quarters. The front four seemed to get better and more consistent pressure than what they displayed at any point during the 2002 campaign.

Airese Currie finally learned how to catch the ball.


Duane Coleman showed some speed at tailback that Clemson fans have not seen in years. Even though he had no big gainers, he fought hard for his yards and always seemed to pushing forward as he was tackled.

Charlie Whitehurst, despite looking a little hesitant on some reads, threw the ball well enough. He also did a good job of protecting the ball. When forced out of the pocket, he was calm enough to either run for positive yards or throw the ball away and hope for something better on the next down.


Unfortunately for Tiger fans, the bad outweighed the good.

REVIEWING THE THREE KEY POINTS

1. Line Play - As mentioned, both sides needed to have good games. The defensive line's performance was not bad. More consistency against the run would have been good, but they helped keep the defense in the game for a long time. It was a decent performance against a very large Bulldog offensive line that managed to rotate players throughout the game.

The offensive line was a much different story. They looked awful. This group is the reason Clemson looked so bad. The backs were fighting just to get two and three yards all day long. Whitehurst was constantly being harassed. There is nothing much left to say other than it looks like the Tigers will once again live and die by the offensive line.

If Saturday's performance is any indication of how they will play the rest of the year, there may be more dying than living.


2. Special Teams - Not too bad. Cole Chason had a good day statistically, but the numbers do not tell the entire story. He benefited from a lucky roll or two, as he was erratic with his kicks. He showed some promise, but has a lot of work to do if he wants to be counted on.


Jad Dean pleased everyone with his bomb to start the second half. Forget that he was kicking with the wind; it would have been a touchback even if the flags were totally limp.


Justin Miller once again showed that kicking away from Derrick Hamilton might not be a very good coaching move. Both are very talented return men. It is fun watching them get a shot at taking one to the house. The catch-22 is that you do not want to see them get that shot much more than twice a game.

3. Luck - Not a lot of luck went Clemson's way on Saturday.

Consider that Clemson fumbled the first snap of the game. You do not really want to begin the game with what amounts to two plays to get a first down. What is worse is that the Tigers turned it over on the second drive by fumbling yet another snap.

Clemson's defense dropped Georgia for a five-yard loss the very next play only to have that erased by a 15-yard facemask penalty.


The third drive started from the nine-yard line after an illegal block on the kickoff return. The fourth drive ended abruptly as Hamilton fumbled it away after a nice gain. The miscue resulted in a Georgia field goal.


The fifth drive was the no call on the tailback pass. Fans, coaches, and players should never complain about a decision made by a referee, but there clearly should have been a flag for face guarding on that play. Not once did Geathers make an attempt to turn his head back to the ball.

The sixth drive ended with Hunt's missed FG from 52 yards after Kevin Youngblood dropped a pass on second down.

The ninth drive was the epitome of bad luck. After benefiting from an offside call to make it first and goal at the three, Clemson quickly lost five yards for a false start. They then tried an option play that was set up nicely had it not been for a poor block on David Pollack. One man was able to blow up the entire play and forced a loss of seven. Two plays later, Pollack made his interception and the rest is a bad memory.

Somewhere in that mix was a dropped interception by the Tigers, deep in Georgia territory in the first half, that could have changed the momentum.

AREAS OF IMPROVEMENT

First and foremost, the offensive line. That is a no brainer.

The second would have to be the play of the linebackers - specifically John Leake. One has to wonder if his performance was that bad because he was worn out from all of the time he spent with the media talking about how good this team would be. Or maybe it was because he was too busy running nine yards downfield to make his tackles instead of making them within three yards of the line of scrimmage.

Or maybe, just maybe, he was still dizzy from the very weak stutter step used by D.J. Shockley in the first half. That very average move nearly caused Leake to break his legs.


The final area would be the corners. Maybe that bomb that Miller had to watch sail over his head was the reality check he needed.

Hill did not play badly, but he must learn how to play in a Cover 2 defense. Greene made a couple of big completions because Hill did not contact the wide receiver as he released. That contact may be very minor, but it forces the wide receiver to lose a step or two. Those few steps are what the safeties need to get over the top and stop those 20 yards patterns to the sideline.

SUMMARY

For all the bad luck and bad execution, Clemson did have some chances and was still in the game with 10 minutes left. Of course, losing the turnover battle 3-0 did not help one bit.

Some are saying that Bowden should have tried to go deep more often. That is a very valid point. The problem with that is two-fold. First, Whitehurst did not have a lot of time to let those routes develop. Secondly, because of the pressure, Clemson was forced to use a lot of max protection schemes. These blocking schemes limit the number of receivers and make it tough to take advantage of the seam in a two-deep defense.

The game was a huge let down for all Tiger fans, players, and coaches. What everyone must now do is try to forget it and move along. There are 11 games left in which a lot of good things can happen if everyone has the right mindset. Not much good will occur if everyone decides the season may as well be cancelled after one game.

These are the times that make teams and fans special. Everyone can look and sound good when things are going well. Only the very best can say the same when things are going bad. Now is the time for anyone that claims to be a Tiger to show just what he or she are made of.

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