Today, Clemson247 takes a look at some of Clemson's head scratchers midway through the 2012 season. Agree with the picks?
1. The Defensive Backfield
The entire unit has struggled with pass coverage at times, but I'm singling out these guys because they are the upperclassmen.
A defensive backfield with this many juniors and seniors on the field should be a team's strength, not its biggest liability.
Tajh Boyd threw for 367 yards against BC, but guess what, the Eagles had more passing yards than the Tigers in that game. Yep, Clemson's defense allowed 369 yards through the air that game. And Boston College is a team that's won one game all season.
An overmatched Furman team got manhandled by Clemson, with a 41-7 final score, but even the Paladins threw for 242 yards against Clemson's defensive backs.
And, when it comes to stopping the run, these guys sometimes struggle there too. In the Ball State game, when the Cardinals Horatio Banks rumbled 54 yards for the score, game film clearly shows him outrunning two Clemson defenders, #9 (Brewer) and #5 (Meeks), to the endzone.
A safety is called that because he is the defensive unit's safety valve. He's the last line of defense, so when a runner gets by the front seven, it's there job to tackle him. This is a perfect example of how Meeks struggles at times stopping the running game too.
It's not all bad news. Hall has 3 INTs this season, but I'm looking for more consistency from this unit.
If these guys continue to play this poorly, it's time for the coaching staff to move on and give some playing time to younger DBs who might improve over the duration of their careers. Because these four surely haven't.
The disappointment here started during the offseason, with his arrest and subsequent two game suspension. As fans, we sometimes forget that these athletes are still 18-22 year-olds who sometimes have a lapse in judgment.
Once he got back on the field, he has hasn't played as well as most of America had anticipated. The consensus All-American from a year ago was expected to be a Heisman Trophy candidate this year.
In addition to the two games he missed because of the suspension, Watkins has missed another game with illness, and looked like he was still recovering from that sickness in this past week's game versus Georgia Tech.
But even when he has been on the field and healthly, Watkins has been somewhat of a disappointment.
You may argue that's because defenses are targeting him more this year, and while that is true, big time playmakers step up when their team needs them, and in the Florida State game, he didn't.
His biggest highlight this whole season is a touchdown pass he threw, as opposed to the many he caught last year.
In the three games he has played in so far during the 2012 season, Watkins has more kickoff return yards (128) than receiving yards (118), and has yet to catch a touchdown pass.
3. Chad Morris' playcalling in the Florida State game
Trick plays are exciting. Trick plays get the crowd into the game. Trick plays keep opposing defenses on their toes. But trick plays should only be run once a game, not several times.
Even coaches such as Bobby Bowden (with the punt rooskie) and Les Miles (who lives and dies by the trick play) know that you only call it once a game.
Clemson earned the reputation a year ago of being a fast paced, high scoring machine by running Chad Morris offense. Stick with what got you there.
If Morris didn't think his regular offensive scheme was good enough to beat the Seminoles, then the ballgame was over before it even started.
Also, I understand the desire to get the ball in Sammy Watkins hands any way possible, but the end around sweep plays aren't his specialty. He's a down the field receiver, not a running back.
By focusing their efforts on Watkins running the ball (for only 37 yards) he lacked to be a presence in the passing game (24 yards on 6 catches).
And why did the coaching staff all but abandon the running game in the second half of that ballgame? Sure, when you're down late in the 4th quarter, you stop running the ball and switch to a pass only offense in an effort to catch up, but Morris started doing that after the first two second half possessions.
Look at the team's first six possesions of the second half. The first time they had the ball, Morris called three run plays and two pass plays and they scored a touchdown. The next possession they ran the ball six times and threw two passes (both incomplete) and kicked a field goal.
Over the next four possessions, Clemson ran the ball a combined three times, while attempting eight passes. Only three of those passes were complete, for -3 yards. The Tigers punted on three of those four possessions, and turned the ball over with an interception on the other.
A more balanced attack might have served them better.
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