5 questions with a Clemson beat reporter

Larry Williams, who covers the Tigers for Rivals, was gracious enough to answer these five questions for me heading into the ACC championship game:

1. How is C.J. Spiller’s injury?  Did it affect him during the South Carolina game? Has he practiced this week?

His toe injury has consistently nagged him all season. The Oct. 10 open date did him some good, but he’s going to need several weeks of rest to resolve it. He’s been limited in practice all year, so I doubt he did a whole lot this week. He was more affected by a stomach bug in the South Carolina game. He said he was holding down vomit on the sidelines after his 88-yard kickoff return for a touchdown early. He definitely wasn’t himself. He also suffered a groin injury early in the game, but that appears to be fine.

2. Clemson’s defense seems to have given up quite a few more big plays the past few games, compared to the first few. Is there a common thread to the plays?

Virginia gashed the Tigers on one possession with Mikell Simpson running the Wildcat, and the Cavaliers also caught the Tigers off guard on another possession by running a ton of trick plays.

South Carolina ran some Wildcat as well while also flummoxing the Tigers with a steady dose of zone reads, quarterback powers and mid-line option runs. The Gamecocks also hit for a few big passing plays.

Clemson has had some trouble stopping the run this year. From my vantage point, offenses are taking advantage of the fact that the Tigers are playing a lot of nickel. The Tigers are smaller with the extra DB and thus easier to block.

The main problem, in my mind, is the stong-side LB position. They just don’t have a natural fit there, so they’re forced to play nickel. And when they go big and put DE/LB Kevin Alexander there, they’re vulnerable in pass coverage.

They’ve also had problems with their other linebackers attacking the wrong gaps and getting out of position.

3. How has Kyle Parker developed as a game-manager?

He’s come a long way. I was really impressed with the kid in that game against Georgia Tech, but he’s progressed a lot since that game. He has really improved his pocket presence and overall knowledge of the offense. He didn’t play all that well against South Carolina, but he didn’t have a whole lot of help from his offensive line. He was really good in the previous two games against Virginia and N.C. State.

South Carolina surprised Clemson by playing zone almost the whole game, and that’s usually been what gives Parker the most trouble. So you have to think Wommack will pick up on that and use a good bit of zone Saturday.

4. How’s the team been acting this week? Their loss to South Carolina  seemed to be more about bad luck and turnovers than anything else.

They did commit some turnovers and have some bad luck, but they were also dominated up front on both sides of the ball. When you give up 223 yards rushing and produce 48 on the ground, you aren’t going to win many games.

This game presents a completely different set of challenges, and I think the team realizes that. They were in a tough position last week playing a desperate team while knowing the biggest game in decades loomed a week later. I’d be surprised if they came out flat in Tampa.

5. Has there been a commonality in Clemson’s losses this season?

They’ve averaged 92 rushing yards a game in the losses, so that tends to stand out.

They’ve committed 12 turnovers in their eight wins and eight turnovers in their four losses, so protecting the ball has been a factor as well.

The Maryland and South Carolina losses were marked by an offense that really struggled. They scored a grand total of two touchdowns in those games, and they didn’t even have a snap in the red zone last week in Columbia.

Prediction and why?

I’m really struggling with this one, and my prediction is subject to change by the minute.

I’ll go with Tech 35-31 because I can’t envision PJ losing back-to-back games. He’ll have the offense rolling after the disjointed effort against UGA.

248 comments Add your comment

The Other St. Simons

December 4th, 2009
10:00 am

((((((((((((((30-24))))))))))))))))))

The Other St. Simons

December 4th, 2009
10:02 am

Disjointed Johnson. Ouch.

IN HONOR OF SAINT SIMONS, M, RAMBLE ON, YELLOW FUZZ:

December 4th, 2009
10:02 am

((((30-24))))))) HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

The Perfect Option

December 4th, 2009
10:03 am

5 STATS

December 4th, 2009
10:04 am

30-24

1-8

60-39

4-15

38-3

A She She blog

December 4th, 2009
10:05 am

WILL THE ATTENDANCE REACH DOUBLE DIGITS?? WELL I GUESS THEY WILL IF YOU COUNT ALL THE PARENTS OF THE PLAYERS!

30-24. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Frank Wren

December 4th, 2009
10:07 am

30-24 HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

The Perfect Option

December 4th, 2009
10:09 am

Well First GT fan at least. Wow, you guys really don’t care about saturday’s game, yet you are in every GT blog.

Question #6

December 4th, 2009
10:10 am

Should Clemson, along with Georgia Tech, each feel absolutely humiliated and embarrassed that both squads managed to lose to a 5 loss SEC team in dominate fashion?

you should have asked.....

December 4th, 2009
10:12 am

Since most in this country find this “championship” game to be the most pointless, meaningless conference championship game to be played in recent memory, should the ACC even bother to go forward with it?

Burdell

December 4th, 2009
10:13 am

Here’s a few stats for you, 5 STATS (and you, too, St. Simons):

5 Losses
1-3 against ranked opposition
Bowl destination: unknown and uninteresting
Planned activity for Championship Saturday: making bail
Lost at home to Kentucky

Guess which team these are from?

I wish I was smart enough to go to UGA but Mc'adezz will do fine

December 4th, 2009
10:13 am

7-5 and Shreveport here we come but I would rather go shoot Bambi…

The Other St. Simons

December 4th, 2009
10:13 am

The Perfect Option: We don’t care about your game, we care about making sure you little b-tches remember your are third best team in 5th besst conference in the country.

Have fun WATCHING the game on TV from your mom’s basement, because you sure aren’t going. Nobody does.

(((((((((30-24)))))))))))) Our ex-willie beat your disjointed johnson.

losers

December 4th, 2009
10:13 am

oh yes, the Tech game doesn’t matter to UGA fans. They have nothing better to do than to read about a team that is actually playing this weekend and post moronic comments.

On a real note, i find it interesting the beat writer for clempsun would pick Tech. Odd. Clemson is a lot like UGA – if they don’t beat themselves, they are a very good team. Let’s just hope we can force some mental errors.

E-bay consultant

December 4th, 2009
10:13 am

What’s sad is that even if GT wins tomorrow, their crackerjack rings from last year would be worth more than any ACC champion ring this year

Frank Wren

December 4th, 2009
10:14 am

This is the question I would have asked

Doe this game really mean anything?

Shouldnt we award the trophy based on who wins to UGA or SC?

How many hot dogs will they give me if I show up?

How is the relish down there?

The Other St. Simons

December 4th, 2009
10:14 am

Burdell, here is a stat for you:

Winning team 30. LOSING team 24. Scoreboard punk.

Frank Wren

December 4th, 2009
10:16 am

30-24 HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Question for other St. Simons

December 4th, 2009
10:16 am

Since the ACC is already regarded as the worst BCS conference out of the 6, I’m just curious which other conferences you would have behind them if you think they’re only the 5th worse in all of D-IA?

The Other St. Simons

December 4th, 2009
10:17 am

I can’t hear you?

ACC rules 7-6 shreveport slime balls

December 4th, 2009
10:17 am

12-2 Orange Bowl Champs
…………………………………
Meaningless 7-6 shreveport losers

The Other St. Simons

December 4th, 2009
10:18 am

(((((((((((30-24))))))))))))) Is Turnt up.

Mike Lum

December 4th, 2009
10:19 am

As a Tech fan, I’m scared to death of Clemson right now. We’ve got to hold onto the ball and keep our offense on the field, rack up a bunch of yards on the ground. Kicker Walsh can’t miss, as he is prone to. Not a cakewalk by any means!

earth to Burdell

December 4th, 2009
10:20 am

And guess which overrated team lost to them with 2 weeks to prepare, while playing at home and didn’t even have to worry about their best player? hahahahahahahah!!!!!

The Other St. Simons

December 4th, 2009
10:22 am

SEC
Pac 10
Big 10
Big 12
Tie: Acc/Big East

((((((30-24))))))) Your best couldn’t beat our worst.

ACC is 2-9 in BCS games

December 4th, 2009
10:22 am

hows that for a stat? UGA has as many BCS wins as the entire ACC combined

Beg to differ

December 4th, 2009
10:24 am

The ACC is clearly the worst BCS conference.

1. SEC
2. Pac-10
3. Big 12
4. Big Easy
5. Big 10
6. All Cupcake Conference

Punch'em in the face

December 4th, 2009
10:26 am

Don’t smack me bro…

The Other St. Simons

December 4th, 2009
10:27 am

Frank Wren

December 4th, 2009
10:29 am

30-24 HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

M-town Dawg

December 4th, 2009
10:34 am

Seriously other St. Simons, you were being waaaaaaaaaaaay to gracious to accuse the ACC of being the 5th best. That’s an insult to the Mountain West, Western Athletic, Sun Belt, Conference USA and the Mid-American.

U-no

December 4th, 2009
10:34 am

There sure is alot of background noise on this blog. This is a Tech blog and for us to be so insignificant, unimportant, and inferior in the minds of UGA fans, they sure are spending more of their time hanging out the the Yellow Jackets than with their own. Interesting.

Nevertheless, Tech wins this weekend in a close and nerve-racking game. We will go to the Orange Bowl and enjoy the pleasures of Miami, after New Years Day, while the Pups get to go smell the oil pumps in Shreveport. They might even try to hump some pumps! Enjoy WATCHING all the football tomorrow, Pups. You might have beat Tech, but you lost to LSU, Tennessee, Florida, and KENTUCKY! How does the basement suit you?

Tech has 12 wins in 41 years against UGA

December 4th, 2009
10:36 am

TCU… WOW.

Now that’s a worthy opponent.

You Techies were SOOOO convinced that CPJ was going to OWN UGA. What a joke. Welcome back to reality. WE OWN TECH!!!

30-24!!!!!!!!!!!! BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!

By the way, just don’t throw the ball and you’ll win the game. Tech needs to do they they do best. Run the F-ing option.

The Other St. Simons

December 4th, 2009
10:37 am

U-no, I would normally agree. However, last year a few of your boys took it upon themselves to remind us Dawgs of last year’s score every day. We are simply returning the favor.

Good luck in the race for 6th place.

((((((((((((((30-24)))))))))))))))

Tim

December 4th, 2009
10:44 am

U-no,

It suits me just fine knowing tools like you STILL have to latch onto other SEC teams, even while you’re on the verge of winning (laughing) the ACC.

That’s really gotta suck

really

December 4th, 2009
10:45 am

Another season goes by and Tech fans want to talk about every other team UGA played except their own. Some things never change.

Correction

December 4th, 2009
10:46 am

Tim –

Actually, Tech fans finally don’t have to hide behind just SEC teams, they can hide behind a Big-12 team now for a change.

Fuzzy

December 4th, 2009
10:56 am

Cross pollination, That is the danger of hanging out with Yellow Jackets.

The Perfect Option

December 4th, 2009
10:58 am

The Other SS, I find it hilarious that you have to come on here and just throw random comments about people. YES I will be there in Tampa cheering on the Jackets, look for me on the 50 yard line you low-class human being. Hope your job search is going well because you have too much time on your hands.

xyz

December 4th, 2009
11:02 am

I’m pretty sure the ushers will find plenty of sits available so they can sit at the 50 yard line too for that game. You’re not impressing anybody

xyz

December 4th, 2009
11:03 am

TECH

December 4th, 2009
11:03 am

uga fans, I’m pretty sure most of you commenting on this blog are the same fans that said that beating UF is more important than beating Tech. You beat Tech and you act like you’ve accomplished something. You were one play away from being 6-6?? REALLY!! Buy the way, you have no defensive coordinator as of right now and you will have a redshirt freshmen starting as your Quarterback next year. So please, we as Tech fans know your going to be posting “30-24″ on the blogs for the next year but in reality your looking at another medicore season in 2010.

P.S. Tech has a higher wining percentage at uga and uga has a higher winning percentage at Bobby Dodd. It is what It is

TECH

December 4th, 2009
11:04 am

On a note- uga has a bye week before they play Tech next year. Think about that….

dawgfan

December 4th, 2009
11:06 am

So Roberson, Clemson gets absolutely pasted by 17 and its just “bad luck and turnovers?” Okay. If I go hurl myself off a 20 story building (Sorry Tech fans. Not happening) is that just bad luck too?

Clemson loses to South Carolina because of bad luck and Tech “almost” beats Georgia. How much is the ACC paying you Roberson.

To the Other Saint Simons

December 4th, 2009
11:06 am

That’s a lot of smack talk coming from a fan of a team who just cut off its willie and has nowhere to go but Shreveport. I’m sure you’re attending that game, right? Against Iowa St.? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

Tech

December 4th, 2009
11:07 am

Considering VT beat Nebraska who is in the Big12 championship and the ACC’s worst team (NC State) beat Pittsburgh who is in the Big East championship I would at least put the ACC in front of those two conferences.

Frank Wren

December 4th, 2009
11:08 am

and you will have a redshirt freshmen starting as your Quarterback next year.

An Elite 11 redshirt freshman QB

TECH

December 4th, 2009
11:11 am

dawgfan, Last year when Clemson played USC they blew the doors off USC. Same with Tech and uga last year. It’s rivalry dude, anything can happen. Expect the Tech-uga series to be close for the next 4-6 years.

Frank Wren

December 4th, 2009
11:11 am

Considering VT beat Nebraska who is in the Big12 championship and the ACC’s worst team (NC State) beat Pittsburgh who is in the Big East championship I would at least put the ACC in front of those two conferences.

Considering the ACC’s all time record in BCS games is 2-9 which is by far the worst of any BCS conference I wouldn’t.

TECH

December 4th, 2009
11:12 am

That hasn’t played a snap??? What are you thinking, He is not a Matt Stafford man.