5 questions about Clemson

Greetings-

Travis Sawchik of the Charleston Post and Courier was good enough to dig into a few questions I asked him about the team he covers. You can read his Clemson coverage here. Please read on.

1. What has happened in the past few weeks that’s kicked the offense into high gear?

First-year starting quarterback Tajh Boyd really began to look comfortable against Auburn in Week 3 and since that point, only Bud Foster’s defense (Va. Tech) has kept Clemson below 35 points.

Freshman wide receiver Sammy Watkins has really kicked the offense into a different gear since the first game. Not only does he have an elite 40 time, but NFL folks are more impressed with his acceleration, which produces easy separation. He can also high point the ball and has flypaper hands. He’s the complete package. Watkins has taken the top off of defenses, along with fellow freshman Martavis Bryant, allowing tight end Dwayne Allen – a projected top-50 NFL pick – and sophomore receiver DeAndre Hopkins to operate in space underneath.

Boyd’s combination of arm strength and quick release has allowed him to get away with staring down some receivers and waiting longer for receivers to break open. He has really good physical attributes and combined with the skilled pass catchers has made this offense, at least the passing offense, potent.

2. Under what scenario could you see Tech pulling the upset Saturday night?

If Georgia Tech can sustain drives they could be in position to pull off an upset.  Clemson thrives off of extra snaps and extra possessions. The Tigers lead the nation in offensive snaps (626) and wear opponents out in the second half, out-scoring teams 175-77 in the second half this year.

Clemson’s defense really struggled with Paul Johnson’s offense in two games in 2009 and Clemson was tied with an FCS option offense in Wofford at the half in Week 2. Georgia Tech is going to have opportunities against a young defense with six new starters that has yet to master base sets let alone option football. Tech needs to stay on the field and hope Boyd gets off to another slow start like he has in his last two road games, throwing a interception returned for a touchdown at Maryland and being off the mark at Va. Tech.

3. Nose guard Brandon Thompson and end Andre Branch are obvious strengths in Clemson’s defense. Where or what are the weak spots?

North Carolina thought it could attack Clemson’s safeties. Defensive coordinator Kevin Steele admits his secondary has been susceptible to double-moves this season and against no team should that be more problematic for Clemson than run-first Georgia Tech. Stephen Hill could have a big night for Tech.

4. Has this season changed your opinion of Dabo Swinney?

We always knew Swinney could recruit – that’s his strength. He has a great personal story and great charisma and that pays off on on the recruiting trail. Sammy Watkins and Tajh Boyd, Clemson’s two most valuable players, were both signed under Swinney.

I was curious to see what changes Swinney would make regarding his coaching staff and he made the a great one in hiring offensive coordinator Chad Morris. I think Swinney has proven he’s more than an ace recruiter and he can be an effective CEO. Perhaps in that Mack Brown mold.

5. What’s the fewest amount of points you could envision Clemson scoring Saturday?

I’ll say 27ish. I think we will see more points than that but Georgia Tech’s best defense is going to be time of possession on offense and it’s certainly plausible Tech will control the clock and shorten the game.

Tech volleyball dad Urban Meyer breaks down the Clemson offense.

Charleston Post and Courier update on the sprained ankle of running back Andre Ellington and a column pointing out Clemson AD Terry Don Phillips hired three of the coaches of the teams in the top five of the BCS – Les Miles and Mike Gundy (when he was AD at Oklahoma State) and Swinney.

A slew of stories available here from the Anderson independent Mail.

Thanks for reading.

Ken Sugiura, Georgia Tech blog

230 comments Add your comment

Crazy Robert

October 28th, 2011
6:48 am

As an Upstate SC resident I sure hope our Jackets can put it all together and beat a tough Clemson team. GO TECH!!!

Alabama Jack

October 28th, 2011
6:50 am

Another fine job Ken. You have really upped the coverage at the AJC and we Tech fans are appreciative.

Whoever...

October 28th, 2011
7:43 am

…gets the ball last wins this game…

reebok

October 28th, 2011
7:52 am

…when your hope for a win rests on stephen hill having a big game, you are well and totally $cr3w3d. tevin and hill have both melted down…i think al groh’s rapidly-improving defense will keep this close for a half, but i see clemson running away with it late…probably winning by 17 or 20. might as well sit tevin down for the rest of the season and let synjyn take a shot…the only remaining team we have a chance to beat is duke.

Ga Tech Old Timer

October 28th, 2011
7:57 am

Ken – There’s a major difference between what a news reporter is / does and a writer – whether in print – on the net or in the TV media. You really set the standard for all others at AJC and other forms of media in the southeast as a fantastic reporter – who is fair and honest in their evaluation of each topic and willing to go beyond the “easy” information to provide us with in depth observations that provides background and coverage beyond our expectations – and very much to our appreciation. Thank you for coverage that gets better and better each week – and with each piece written.

Has this season changed your opinion of Dabo Swinney

October 28th, 2011
8:00 am

Enter your comments here

Has this season changed your opinion of Dabo Swinney

October 28th, 2011
8:01 am

my comments were eaten by the blog – Ken, you need to do something about this filter…

Has this season changed your opinion of Dabo Swinney

October 28th, 2011
8:12 am

What a dumb question – coaches don’t win or lose games, players do – and whoever wins, great, and, whoever comes up short, they are still great kids and coaches – No one loses on purpose.

You guys seem to be confusing Swinney with Tommy Bowden, who was the master of what the TV pundits now refer to as “pulling a Clemson” since during his tenure his teams annually lost many games they should have won – yet, many on here thought CPJ was the second coming until the UVA game, and now many blame him personally for the loss, and he did not play one down!

You guys need to get over yourselves – coaches do the best they can, and sometimes those 18-22 year olds just do not play well, no matter how well they are prepared by the coaches prior to the game.

And when was the last time Tech was in the BCS’ top 5? Does that make CPJ a worse coach than Swinney since Clemson is there now?

Like an earlier blogger wrote, the winner of the game Saturday night will probably be whoever gets the ball last – but whichever team comes up short does not make their coach or team a total dunce…

BartBuzz

October 28th, 2011
8:14 am

It all depends on which Tech offense shows up Saturday night. Ball control and consistency will be the key.

rharper

October 28th, 2011
8:42 am

For our sake let’s hope that the offense that started the first half of the season shows up to play and the defense that has stepped up lately continues to improve. I hope that Roddy Jones’ speech to the team inspired them to win this game (and it will be a good one if our A- game is present on both sides of the ball) and they go out and perform with fire and motivation in their bloods to pull an upset- any given Saturday it is a possibility to win big and hopefully all the media attention and national exposure will make our guys perform at their best. I will be there for support!! GO JACKETS!!! SEIZE THE MOMENT AND CREATE AN UPSET!!!

Birmingham Jacket

October 28th, 2011
8:44 am

Here’s 5 questions:

1. Is #13 going to start under center for GT?

2. Is #96 likely to see significant playing time, up front in the middle of the worst defense since Ted Roof’s tenure?

3. Is it fair to say will have to kick the football at some point in this match-up?

4. True or False: At some point during this competition, we will be on the receiving end of (most likely) a kick-off or (most unlikely) a punt?

5. Can someone loan me $387 for a round trip ticket to Vegas and get me a second mortgage on my house so I can bet the farm on Clem -3.5?

4.

Tech Recruit

October 28th, 2011
8:52 am

“And when was the last time Tech was in the BCS’ top 5? Does that make CPJ a worse coach than Swinney since Clemson is there now?”

In a nutshell… Yes.

pjs recruits

October 28th, 2011
9:09 am

Pj most over rated coach on the planet.

Right On

October 28th, 2011
9:11 am

I cannot wait to witness Clemson absolutely destroying the cheats on their home field in their high school stadium. The most overrated coach, and worst fan base in the country, will be even more humbled after tomorrow night’s beatdown. I cannot wait.

Gorilla Biscuit

October 28th, 2011
9:15 am

Tough crowd today.

Get It Right

October 28th, 2011
9:17 am

Re: “Travis Sawchik of the Charleston Post and Courier was good enough to dig into a few questions I asked him about the team he covers.”

Why ask a reporter for a paper 250 miles away what he thought of a team? That’s like asking a report from Savannah to scout Georgia Tech.

High school

October 28th, 2011
9:18 am

My opinion of CPJ has never changed

He is a good high school or DIII coach. He is clearly out of his league in the paltry ACC.

SMALL PAUL
SMALL PAUL
SMALL PAUL

Get your excuses ready…

Right Off

October 28th, 2011
9:20 am

We shall see … that’s why they play the games.

iTech

October 28th, 2011
9:22 am

I am a bit down an our coach too, but I had no idea it was this bad.

How come no one says anything about our AD who is running the show and who has run us into so much debt?

Valdosta Jacket

October 28th, 2011
9:23 am

Clemson has always had better talent than most of the ACC, including GT. So to determine who is the better coach based on BCS rankings half way through one season seems ridiculous. I will admit that Swinney can recruit with the best of them, but Clemson has never had a problem recruiting; just winning consistently. Even Swinney could not sway a Boyd or Watkins to come to Tech where they have to study and their parents don’t get new jobs in town!

mark Pricht

October 28th, 2011
9:23 am

We beat them the last 4 of 5 and our D is better than last year.Spiller beat us by himself last year. Clemson can not stop the run as they have proven against Wofford and others. I believe that we will score without any problem at at, but we will need to stop them at least twice to win and I am not sure if we can do that….but it sure helps that Ellington will be out, at least its one less threat from a powerful offense…..I feel good about it but not good enough to lay down any money

Right On

October 28th, 2011
9:24 am

@ Right Off

What has this team showed you that would make you think they even stand a chance tomorrow night? Absolutely nothing would be your answer if you were being honest. Don’t allow blind loyalty ruin your better judgement.

Tech Recruit

October 28th, 2011
9:26 am

Best strategy is to build a time machine and play last year’s Clemson squad.

Right On

October 28th, 2011
9:27 am

Actually, Tech is only 2 out of the last 5 that count against Clemson. Remember, since you cheated that one time the game is vacated and doesn’t exist in the history books.

Right On

October 28th, 2011
9:29 am

Tech is just not designed to play D-1A level competition. They are better situated for the D-IAA guys like Georgia Southern and such.

Right Off

October 28th, 2011
9:30 am

@ Right On

Its called faith in my alma mater and my favorite team, no matter what the odds. You should try it sometime … you might be a happier person.

Right Off

October 28th, 2011
9:33 am

… more spewing of drivel and “I must get the last word in” comments coming shortly. Happy Friday everyone, and GO JACKETS!!

Steve

October 28th, 2011
9:35 am

Uh, mark Pricht…

“Spiller beat us by himself last year.”

Spiller was in the NFL last year.

Looking at the past would be foolish for this game. This Clemson team (particularly, its attitude) is starkly different from anything you’ve seen in the past 10-15 years. GT is going to score, but they are not going to outscore Clemson.

George Stein

October 28th, 2011
9:40 am

Actually, Right On, you need to examine your history.

Tech won in 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009. I’ll leave out the ACCCG currently under appeal.
Clemson won in 2006 and 2010. I happen to believe they’ll win tomorrow night, too. Even still, your math is remarkably poor.

As to the earlier poster who said that Clemson being in the BCS top 5 is proof that he’s a better coach, I would say that the world is not quite so black and white.

carolinajacket

October 28th, 2011
9:42 am

Steve, I think you are exactly right. However, stranger things have happened in football. A few breaks going for the underdog and, oops, things can happen. We shall see when the game is played.

mark Pricht

October 28th, 2011
9:42 am

its the same old Clemson and it will show before the year ends…..I saw yabadaba Dabo say on TV 2 nights ago that they only scheduled Wofford because he worries about the option,,,,,they always choke and this years choke is tomorrow…believe me they WILL NOT stop the option period

GT FAN IN PA

October 28th, 2011
9:48 am

Look what happened last weekend- TT beat OK at OK-

T3

October 28th, 2011
9:49 am

Clemson is rolling and GT is realing.

Clemson’s pass offense vs. GT’s pass defense. Thats going to be a good matchup.

I think GT will pick-off Boyd for 2 INTs.

I think we’ll see Days in action again. No slight on TW,
but maybe Days adds some extra dimension to the offense right now.
And, if Clemson is going to follow what MD, and UVA did which is
make the GT QB carry the load, then perhaps Days presents a
better run threat than TW.

IF…….Days can hold onto the ball.

A 2 QB rotation for GT might be keep Clemson’s Defense out of sync.

It should be a close game. I’ll hope for a GT win. Maybe 29-28 on a late FG.

IF……GT upsets Clemson, the GT-VT game on Nov 10th will be IN-SANE !!!!

Lastly, I think UGA beats Florida. However, I will repeat my prediction from the start of the year:

GT will beat UGA in Atlanta on November 26th.

GIVE ME A BREAK

October 28th, 2011
9:58 am

As was mentioned yesterday, Tech beat an 8-0 Clemson team at Clemson in 2000. That’s why the game is played. I’m pulling for the JACKETS.

GIVE ME A BREAK

October 28th, 2011
10:00 am

Enter your comments here

Danny Ford

October 28th, 2011
10:06 am

Five Questions
1. Do you guys miss me?
2. How have we lost to these clowns in the past?
3. Do the engineers understand the concept of the forward pass?
4. Where will you be celebrating after the beat down of the engineers?
5. Has anyone seem my chaw of tobacco?

Danny Ford

October 28th, 2011
10:09 am

T3:

How does one “real” from a loss? I thought all trade schoolers were super intelligent….all you have to do is listen to one of them describe it…..keep it simple for us country folks.

GIVE ME A BREAK

October 28th, 2011
10:12 am

Tech beat an 8-0 Clemson in 2000. I’m pulling for the JACKETS.

GIVE ME A BREAK

October 28th, 2011
10:12 am

T3

October 28th, 2011
10:15 am

Danny Ford = POS UGA troll.

Its a blog. But if it helps you cope: “Reeling.”

Don't forget...

October 28th, 2011
10:22 am

…even if Tech wins Saturday night, and we beat VaTech next game (and do not lose again except maybe to UGA), we will still probably have to play Clemson again in Charlotte on Dec 3 with the Orange Bowl riding on that outcome(or is there a tie breaker I am missing, as I am counting on UVA losing to VaTECH – or do we automatically lose the tiebreaker to VaTech since we lost two “in-division” games)…

carolinajacket

October 28th, 2011
10:23 am

Good news for next year. Dennis Andrews, qb for Godby High, is having a fantastic year, and believe it or not, he is also a punter. He might turn out to be a true diamond in the rough.

George Stein

October 28th, 2011
10:42 am

Interesting question in the Yahoo! CFB Mailbag this week:

Preparation matters

Many people criticize Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson’s record when facing teams that have more than one week to prepare for his offense, such as Virginia beating Georgia Tech this season. Do other prominent coaches have this issue? And is the criticism against Johnson justified?
Rob
Newport Beach, Calif.

Personally, I don’t see how anybody criticizes Johnson, who took over an average Georgia Tech program 3? years ago and has gone 32-16 thus far, with a BCS berth.

True, Georgia Tech is 5-9 when facing a team that has had more than a week to prepare for his unconventional triple option offense, but – if my math is correct – FBS teams last season were just 61-69 after open weeks.

[College Football Pick'em: Sign up and play today]

Still, it would seem any team given an extra week to prepare figures to have an advantage, regardless of the offense it’s facing.

I don’t have every coaches’ won-loss records in games after an open date, but let’s use Nick Saban as an example. Last season, Alabama went 10-3. All three losses were to teams coming off an open date – South Carolina, LSU and Auburn.

By the way, everyone is well aware that Texas had a miserable season in 2010. The Longhorns only posted one victory over an opponent that managed more than four wins. That win was over Nebraska – following an open date.

BS Patrol

October 28th, 2011
10:47 am

You doggie trolls have plenty to be worried about besides Tech.

Hello? Anybody home?

October 28th, 2011
10:47 am

I think the real issue here is the size and strength of our offensive line; nearly all of them are freshmen and sophomores. The offense looks good as long as they keep teams like Middle Tennessee out of the backfield but against older and stronger defensive lines any QB (not saying TW is great…) barely has time to hand off the ball, let alone pass it.

Hayseed Dixie

October 28th, 2011
11:00 am

“I don’t have every coaches’ won-loss records in games after an open date, but let’s use Nick Saban as an example. Last season, Alabama went 10-3. All three losses were to teams coming off an open date – South Carolina, LSU and Auburn.”

But don’t you know- everyone has Saban’s offense figured out.

TampaDawg

October 28th, 2011
11:13 am

BS Patrol

October 28th, 2011
10:47 am
You doggie trolls have plenty to be worried about besides Tech.
————-
Remove yours from ours and we will remove ours from yours.

BS Patrol

October 28th, 2011
11:20 am

And you speak for all doggie trolls?

George Stein

October 28th, 2011
11:20 am

If only it were that easy, Tampa.

I think y’all get over the hump tomorrow. Good luck.

1 4 GT

October 28th, 2011
11:29 am

If UGAG mutts don’t beat UF tomorrow, they will NEVER beat UF again.