The Jumbo Package and Tale of the Tape: Elliott weighs in


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Wayne Gallman had 30 carries against Auburn
Wayne Gallman had 30 carries against Auburn

CLEMSON – While Clemson’s offense didn’t play up to its standard Saturday night in Auburn, the tale of the tape wasn’t all bad.

The Tigers amassed 399 yards of total offense, but only managed 19 points; however, offensive coordinator Tony Elliott told the media Monday afternoon there were a lot of good things to come of the game.

There is also plenty to correct.

“This is another opportunity to go back and it's a humbling experience for our guys to say, 'Okay, now we have to go put it on the field and live up to the expectations and not focus on what everybody is saying but focus on how we play.' We weren't far off.,” Elliott said of his offense’s performance. “As you go back and watch and the tape - I admit that I came off the field and 400 yards, that's a good performance on the road in the SEC, but not up to our expectations.

“We just have to understand that we have to get off to a fast start like we always do. We cannot have self-inflicted wounds. We had some critical errors at critical times that threw us off from a rhythm standpoint. The biggest thing is to get back to being here in front of our home crowd, getting back to the basics and everybody just committing to doing their job each and every play.”

Much of Saturday evening was spent with the offensive staff feeling its way through the gameplan as new Auburn defensive coordinator Kevin Steele threw some wrinkles in his scheme.

“There was some uncertainty and we had to figure out in the running game exactly what we wanted to do. We wanted to see how they would play Mike (Williams) after not having him last year and what would be their adjustment, so it took a couple of series there,” Elliott said. “In the first series, we got off to a good rhythm and then we get down there and we stall and there were self-inflicted wounds. Then we had two drives where we came out and weren't as sharp then we put together a long, 80-yard touchdown drive.

“A lot of it was in the running game and figuring out what we could get to in the running game to be successful and really staying committed to it. We knew it was going to be a tough task with those guys inside and once we figured out what their plan was with Mike, we were able to get into a rhythm and put together some critical drives.”

The offense took its lumps against Auburn, but it’s hard to ignore the similarities between Saturday’s game and last year’s game at Louisville – another game where the offense struggled to put points on the board.

“No question. There are a lot of eerie comparisons between this game and the Louisville game last year,” he said. “After that Louisville game, we were able to see that going on the road is not an easy thing to do and there are a lot of things we need to work on, so our guys came in hungry this morning. After the game, we were definitely excited about the win, but we also knew that we didn't feel like we played for our standard.

“Last season we hit a run when we were very spoiled where we were coming out and having 500-plus yards per game and everybody was talking about how great the offense is and things really started to click. It was a good learning and teaching opportunity for us. Anytime you win the game, you have an opportunity to coach hard off it.”

However, Elliott was pleased with the play of the offensive line.

“Overall, I thought the protection was good. The quarterback did get hit, but there weren't any sacks, so I'm very proud of that. When you're going against Carl Lawson and that defense and him being a potential All-SEC player,” he said, “I was pleased that we didn't get Deshaun sacked. There was one time where he had to get us out of a play and that really came with interior pressure. There were a couple of times where Jay broke down in the quick game from a technique standpoint where we got a hit on the quarterback late, but the ball was already out. Overall, I was very pleased with the identification and the communication because they did change some tendencies and brought a little more pressure than normal.

“He did some loop stunts to try and confuse us but Jay and the backs were on the same page. Deshaun did a great job of managing the game in those situations to slow it down and make sure everybody was on the same page. Overall, I'm pleased with the protection, but some technique things that we've got to clean up and not let the quarterback get hit once the ball is away.”

While the tempo was okay, Elliott said he'd like to see the offense move a little quicker at critical times in the game.

“At times, I wanted to see a little bit quicker tempo. Obviously, going into the game, we knew there would be some unknowns,” he said. “Giving Jay (Guillermo) and Deshaun (Watson) an opportunity to identify it correctly has helped us become more efficient on offense, so there were times that I would have liked to have seen the tempo. In terms of total plays, we had two three-and-outs and we had two turnovers and that's going to reduce our play count, so if we continue to stay consistent and we don't turn the ball over we're going to hit that 80-plus plays. Pleased with the tempo but there were a couple of times when we wanted to really speed it up that we weren't quite as fast as we wanted to be.”

Other Notes

Dexter Lawrence and Christian Wilkins goal line package

“I'm not going to take credit for something that wasn't my idea. That was something that Coach Swinney came to us back in the summer and said that he wanted a package with Dexter Lawrence and Christian Wilkins in front of Wayne Gallman. We just tried to find time throughout camp to steal those guys because they're doing a lot defensively. Christian is playing inside and outside for those guys. The big thing was just trying to keep it as simple as possible and once we really got into Auburn prep and understanding what their defensive front was going to be and what was going to be the easiest install, walk-throughs, and we had a couple of days in practice and then we had an opportunity and we fired it.

“They were eager. They came up with the signals that they wanted to signal in from the sideline so they knew exactly what play was coming, but they were very eager. Dexter and Christian are very easy to coach and they're team players and they're willing to do whatever and you see those guys also contributing on special teams in the same way.”

Coming home to Death Valley

“Just excited for our fans. Our fans have been great and have traveled everywhere we've gone and almost made it like a home game for us in each of those situations. I'm excited to get back and play in front of our home crowd and get an opportunity back here in the Valley and take a little bit of stress off of the guys. It's always a little bit easier to play at home. We have a lot of confidence playing in this stadium with the streak of games that we've won. We're excited to get back where most of our fans have the opportunity to see this Tiger team.”

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