Sunday thoughts: Where did you go?
|Sunday, November 10, 2013 4:21 PM- -|
Hope everyone enjoyed the off day Saturday, even though it was a little odd for me to have such a beautiful, crisp fall Saturday afternoon and I wasn’t somewhere in a press box. The good thing is that I got to do something I almost never get to do, and that is sit at home and channel surf all day.
Now on to some more Sunday musings and thoughts. *Where did you go??? – I was sitting in the WestZone earlier this week waiting for players to show up for interviews, and I heard an interesting conversation between two writers from other Clemson media outlets. They were wondering what the heck had happened to Clemson fans, because from a media perspective, the fans have almost disappeared. Both were saying that their sites spiked in page views the week before the Georgia game, had held steady right up through the FSU game, and then have absolutely plummeted. Not just plummeted, dropped down a deep hole. As in the same number of views they would have had back in 2010 when the Tigers were stumbling through a 6-7 campaign.
Now on to some more Sunday musings and thoughts.
*Where did you go??? – I was sitting in the WestZone earlier this week waiting for players to show up for interviews, and I heard an interesting conversation between two writers from other Clemson media outlets. They were wondering what the heck had happened to Clemson fans, because from a media perspective, the fans have almost disappeared.
Both were saying that their sites spiked in page views the week before the Georgia game, had held steady right up through the FSU game, and then have absolutely plummeted. Not just plummeted, dropped down a deep hole. As in the same number of views they would have had back in 2010 when the Tigers were stumbling through a 6-7 campaign.
I like social media and trends, and the more I thought about it, the more I realized that many of the casual Clemson fans have simply disappeared. If you are reading this, you probably aren’t in that number, but I wonder…..what is the reason for the disconnect? This team is 8-1 and ranked in the top ten nationally, and it seems like a majority of the fans simply aren’t excited.
Anyone out there know the reason for the lack of excitement? Did the FSU loss hurt that much? Does that loss mean many casual fans think this means a certain loss to South Carolina? Might be worth another column.
*The fans actually have good reason to be excited – if this team wins out and win a bowl game, they could win 12 games for the first time since 1981, the national championship season. If they win the final three regular season games, they will most certainly receive a BCS bowl bid and have an exciting bowl season matchup. Right now, if I had to guess, I would say that the Tigers would be headed back to the Orange Bowl, and there are all kind of exciting matchup possibilities.
Yes, Clemson lost at home to FSU, but that might just be the best team in the country this season. I can’t say for sure, but after watching everybody else the last few weeks, I would say there is only one other team that can compete with the Noles, and that is Bama.
For Clemson, the scenario is simple, and it’s something I’ve written about before – just win. Winning out means victories over hated Georgia Tech and it means ending the four-game losing streak to South Carolina. I’m actually excited about what these last few weeks and the bowl season will hold.
*If you read this column a week ago, you saw where I wrote about World War II veteran Monk Bingler, a true American hero who works in the press box at Virginia. Many emailed me and sent me messages saying that they would like to send a letter or a note to Mr. Bingler thanking him for his service to our country. The people at Virginia told me that Mr. Bingler doesn’t have an email, but that he also works the basketball games and is a constant presence around the athletic offices.
Their SID told me to send all correspondence to his office and they will make sure that Mr. Bingler receives it. Send all letters and notes to:
Mr. Monk Binger
c/o Jim Daves
Assistant Athletics Director for Media Relations
University of Virginia
295 Massie Road-JPJA / Charlottesville, Va. 22904
*There was a lot of excitement a few weeks ago about the ACC and the fact that three teams were ranked in the Top 10. Even then, though, I wondered if the ACC had really improved or if it was just those three teams, and now that I’ve had a chance to see more ACC football and see teams like Syracuse and Wake and Virginia in person, the more I realize that the league simply has a lot of bad – really bad – football teams.
I watched Duke yesterday, and while I think they are a great story, they aren’t a really good football team. They are well-coached and they are bowl eligible, but they aren’t close to being a Top 25 team. In fact, the ACC now has only three teams ranked in the Top 25, and Miami is one loss away from falling out of the rankings. Anyone that has watched Virginia Tech or Georgia Tech or Pitt or any of those teams realizes that they have days where they can be pretty good, but they also have days when they can be really bad.
As of today, the conference has one elite team in FSU, one really good team in Clemson, and you can lump Miami, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech and Duke in the “good” category, but nowhere near what you would call Top 15 teams, or even Top 20.The rest just leave a lot to be desired. If the ACC wants to really take that next step, they have to get more teams playing good football.
The latest Coaches Poll shows five SEC teams ranked in Top 15 (two or less losses) and the PAC-12 has three teams. Beyond those teams in each of those conferences, there are some pretty good teams sitting just outside the Top 15. That is where the ACC has to be.
*Watching Texas A&M, I couldn’t help but think that they remind me of Clemson in 2011 and 2012. All kinds of offensive talent, but struggling on defense. Turns out they are worse than that – they are 104th nationally in total defense, and 89th in scoring defense, giving up 30.9 points per game.
*I watched Auburn last year, and thought they were a lot better than their record. Add in a stellar recruiting class, and Gus Malzahn has them competing for an SEC title. I thought it was interesting watching them yesterday, and seeing Montravius Adams, Carl Lawson and Elijah Daniel all playing significant snaps on their defensive line, three players that Clemson was heavily recruiting. Malzahn could be building the type of program that can challenge Alabama sooner rather than later, and they might even give them fits this year. The Iron Bowl will be fun to watch.
*Speaking of Alabama – I’ve gotten a chance to watch them a few times this year, and paid special attention to them Saturday night against LSU. I think Alabama has a great defense, and no one can question that. But something has jumped out at me the last few times I have seen them play, and that is how much their style of offense helps their defense.
Case in point – Alabama ran just 62 plays and had “just” 372 yards of total offense Saturday night, but they held the ball for 33 minutes, and it seemed like each drive took a lot of time off the clock. Bama’s defense gave up just 284 total yards, and LSU only ran 54 plays.
Two drives stood out to me – in the third quarter, LSU had just kicked a field goal that tied the score at 17-17. Alabama took the kickoff, and proceeded to go on a drive that took 14 plays and 7:50 (over half a quarter) off the clock. In other words, LSU had the ball with just over 12 minutes remaining in the quarter, and they didn’t see the ball again until just over four minutes remained. From that point on, they looked like a team that was pressing.
Bama’s next scoring drive took five minutes and 10 more plays and ended with a touchdown, and LSU was done at that point. As a result, Alabama’s ball control offense really helps the defense, and I wondered just how many plays Alabama’s defense has been on the field this season. The answer – 521 plays, which ties them with Louisville for the fewest number of plays this season, an average of just over 57 plays per game.
Georgia Tech’s defense has been on the field for just 564 plays, and surprisingly enough, South Carolina’s defense is 16th nationally, having been on the field for 590 plays. Despite Clemson’s fast-paced offense, Clemson’s defense has been stellar at the 3-and-out in 2013, and has been on the field for 627 plays.