Tag:Kevin Steele
Posted on: January 20, 2012 3:38 pm
Edited on: January 20, 2012 3:39 pm
 

Clemson assistants among highest paid nationally

Posted by Chip Patterson

Brent Venables made a very difficult decision to leave Oklahoma and accept the open defensive coordinator position at Clemson. But the school made the decision much easier, reportedly rewarding Venables with a multi-year deal that will reportedly pay nearly $800,000 per season. That figure would make Venables the No. 3 most-compensated assistant coach nationally in 2012, just behind Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart.

But Venables joins a staff that includes the nation's No. 1 compensated assistant: offensive coordinator Chad Morris. In December, Morris agreed to a new deal with $1.3 million annually over six years. With Gus Malzahn accepting the head coaching position at Arkansas State, Morris moved into the top spot.

"We are getting one of the top coordinators in the nation," head coach Dabo Swinney said in regards to Venables' arrival. "I appreciate the commitment from the Clemson administration. This hire shows everyone at Clemson wants us to be the best we can possibly be."

With the No. 1 and No. 3 highest paid assistants on the staff, there will be expectations for on-field results from the school. The Tigers just won their first ACC Championship since 1991. With this kind of investment from the school, competing for conference titles are now the norm. If Clemson is not in the ACC Atlantic Division title hunt each season with this staff, the fan base will let their displeasure known. After this kind of investment, no one will accept "Clemson pulling a Clemson."

CBSSports.com's Travis Sawchik pointed out Clemson's 8-0 start as one reason for the investment in the football program. University president James Barker was impressed by the campus energy and increase in undergraduate applications during the Tigers' fast start this fall. Clemson is just another example of a school using their football program to expose the university on a national level.

For more on Brent Venables and Clemson, follow Travis Sawchik and Tigers RapidReports

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Posted on: January 5, 2012 12:18 am
Edited on: January 5, 2012 12:55 am
 

QUICK HITS: West Virginia 70, Clemson 33



Posted by Chip Patterson


Clemson entered the Orange Bowl with hopes of repeating history, on the 30th anniversary of the program's last trip to this game - also their last National Championship. The head coach of that team, the legendary Danny Ford, was honored before the game. All-American linebacker Jeff Davis was one of the Tigers' honorary captains. On Wednesday night, the Tigers wrote themselves into the BCS history books.

Just not for the reasons head coach Dabo Swinney would have liked.

Inestad it was West Virginia instead who made history, and they made it in several different ways.

First, as a team:
- Most first half points (49) in any bowl game, ever.
- Most points (70) in any bowl game, ever.

Then some individuals:
- Geno Smith's 6 passing touchdowns are new Orange and BCS bowl records, surpassing Matt Leinart (2005) and Tom Brady (2000).  The six touchdowns also tie the record for touchdowns scored by a single player in any bowl game, ever.
- Tavon Austin's 4 receiving touchdowns are new Orange Bowl and BCS bowl records, and tie the record for any bowl game, ever.

WEST VIRGNIA WON. A high-scoring game was expected, but no one imagined it would be so lopsided in favor of the Mountaineers, as the West Virginia re-wrote the Orange Bowl record books in a 70-33 rout of Clemson.

HOW WEST VIRGINIA WON: Both teams played a dead-even first quarter that met the pregame expectations, with Clemson leading 21-17 and both putting up over 150 total yards of offense. But West Virginia took advantage of three Clemson turnovers in the second quarter and some shaky play by the Tigers' secondary to outscore the Tigers 35-3 in the period. The 49 points allowed in a half by Clemson's defense was the most in any bowl game ever.

WHEN WEST VIRGINIA WON: The second quarter slaughter began at the end of a very dominant Clemson drive, which was featured a 39-yard run by Andre Ellington to set up 1st and Goal from the three yard line. But when Ellington was stood up by the pile at the goal line on the following play, West Virginia cornerback Darwin Cook jumped in and stripped the ball from his hands. While most players were still involved in the pile-up at the goal line, Cook dashed 99 yards the other way for a West Virginia touchdown. The Tigers did not come close to reaching the goal line again until DeAndre Hopkins scored with 1:37 left in the third quarter.

WHAT WEST VIRGINIA WON: Respect on the biggest stage. With all the talk about conference realignment and BCS automatic bids, the Mountaineers would like to remind you they are a damn good football team. For all the talk about West Virginia's offense, they would not have been in the position to score if it wasn't for the defense forcing turnovers and holding the Tigers from the end zone for nearly 30 minutes of game time between the 2nd and 3rd quarter.

WHAT CLEMSON LOST: A historic meltdown on what many thought would be a historic night for the Tigers. After winning the ACC Championship, head coach Dabo Swinney thought the program "broke through walls" and began moving forward into the status of the elite. Many figured an Orange Bowl win would help cement that status as a rising program. Clemson fans better hope there is not another 30 year drought before their next Orange Bowl appearance, or else this memory will last a long time.

THAT WAS CRAZY. After the aforementioned Darwin Cook strip-touchdown, the cornerback ran through the end zone and was carried by his momentum right into Obie, the Orange Bowl mascot. Cook proceeded to clothesline the big fuzzy fruit, before hitting the barricade at the back of the end zone. (Check out this .gif, via SB Nation)

BOWL GRADE: A+/F. All depends on your perspective for this one. For a West Virginia fan, the dismantling of Clemson on the national stage was sweet redemption from weeks of naysaying about their place in this game. The 8-5 Mountaineers were deemed "not good enough for a BCS bowl game" by many, and the beatdown was a huge West Virginian middle finger to those doubters. For Clemson? This was arguably the program's worst loss in recent memory. On the 30th anniversary of their last National Championship, with the head coach and star linebacker in attendance; the Tigers were ripped apart. The ultimate "Clemson pulling a Clemson," as some might choose to say.

Keep up with all the latest results and preview the rest of the bowls at our Bowl Pregame

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Posted on: December 3, 2011 11:38 pm
 

Clemson claims ACC Championship with 38-10 win



Posted by Chip Patterson


CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Streaks, trends, and traditions. These things did not matter to a young Clemson team as they rode an explosive third quarter to a 38-10 win over Virginia Tech for their first ACC Championship since 1991.

After both teams finished an evenly played first half, the Tigers that emerged from the locker room after the break looked much more like the Tigers that knocked off three straight ranked opponents and was considered outside contenders for a BCS title.

Clemson's BCS dreams were crushed by losing three of their final four games in the regular season, but head coach Dabo Swinney will find plenty of consolation in the first conference title in 20 years and his first BCS bowl berth as a head coach. The experts had the Tigers as underdogs against the defending champions, who entered the game in a very different manner riding a seven-game winning streak.

Tajh Boyd shook off the "phantom pressure" from the last month and hung in the pocket to complete 20 of 29 passes for 240 yards and three touchdowns. Most importantly, the Clemson offensive line only allowed Boyd to be sacked once. But Boyd wasn't the only the star shining bright in front of a sold-out crowd at Bank of America Stadium. Andre Ellington and Sammy Watkins, both limited during Clemson's slump with nagging injuries, looked explosive as ever against Virginia Tech's defense. Ellington ran 20 times for 125 yards and a touchdown while Watkins added 54-yard touchdown reception of his own as part of his 155 all-purpose yards..

For Clemson - a team that plays at least 20 true or redshirt freshman on a weekly basis - Saturday's win didn't just end the school's conference title drought, it fired a warning shot across the bow of the Frank Beamer ACC Dynasty. The Hokies have appeared in five ACC Championship Games since the conference began holding the event in 2005. A Virginia Tech win would have been their fourth in five years, and third time defeating an opponent from earlier in the season.

But Saturday didn't feel like 2007, 2008, or 2010 for Virginia Tech fans. It felt like 2005. Florida State entered that inaugural championship on a three-game losing streak, and all the momentum was thought to be with the one-loss Hokies who had just arrived to crash the ACC's party. But after entering halftime tied, the Seminoles outscored Clemson 24-0 in the third quarter on the way to a decisive 27-22 victory. This time it was another longtime ACC member, Clemson, who started the second half with three straight scores on offense and three straight three-and-outs on defense. But the Tigers never let the Hokies get back into the game, and kept the pressure coming until the Oranges came raining down from the Orange-clad Tigers fans who stayed to savor every last moment.

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Posted on: November 12, 2011 3:44 pm
Edited on: November 12, 2011 3:46 pm
 

QUICK HITS: No. 9 Clemson 31, Wake Forest 28

Posted by Chip Patterson

CLEMSON WON. With the ACC Atlantic Division on the line, the Tigers overcame a 14 point third quarter deficit to knock Wake Forest off in the final seconds and win 31-28. After missing a 30-yard field goal earlier in the quarter, Clemson kicker Chandler Catanzaro lined up a 43-yard try and nailed it as time expired. The win clinched the ACC Atlantic Division title for Clemson, who will face the winner of the Coastal (either Virginia Tech or Virginia) in the ACC Championship Game on Dec. 3.

HOW CLEMSON WON: Wake Forest stunned the Tigers in the second half with three touchdowns in a five minute span, jumping out to a 28-14 lead. But Tajh Boyd and Andre Ellington overcame early turnovers to help lead the Tigers down the field and back into the game late. The Tigers were able to get the offense going despite losing Sammy Watkins to an "upper extremity injury" in the third quarter. Boyd finished the game with 343 yards passing, looking to receivers like Jaron Brown and Brandon Ford to step up in Watkins' absence. The depth of skill position players helped keep the Tigers' offense humming, and the defensive line picked the right time to get pressure on Wake Forest quarterback Tanner Price.

WHEN CLEMSON WON: After trailing by two touchdowns, the Tigers didn't get to enjoy success until the clock hit zero as Catanzaro's kick sailed through the uprights. The comeback wasn't pretty, but credit Tajh Boyd and a gang of unheralded receivers for putting them in the position to win the game late.

WHAT CLEMSON WON: A trip to Charlotte to compete for the ACC Championship. The Tigers had their national championship hopes dashed by Georgia Tech two weeks ago, but they can still find their way to a BCS bowl with a conference title. Clemson's division title is their second in three years, as they strive to capture their first league championship since 1991.

WHAT WAKE FOREST LOST: The chance to steal the ACC Atlantic Division from Clemson. The Demon Deacons needed wins over Clemson and Maryland to claim the division, and with a 28-14 lead in the third quarter it looked likely. Wake Forest already stunned Florida State, and knocking off the Tigers would have added to a memorable season for a team picked to finish last in the ACC. The next goal for Jim Grobe's squad is bowl eligibility, as the Demon Deacons need one more win to make the postseason.

THAT WAS CRAZY: Freshman phenom Sammy Watkins has had a memorable first season with the Tigers, and Saturday he broke the 1,000-yard mark on the season. Watkins currently has 1,035 receiving yards, but his future may be in jeopardy after leaving the game with an "upper extremity injury." Watkins appeared to injure his shoulder/ribs, and did not return to the game. The true freshman has been electrifying this season, and a big part of the Tigers' success. If he's out, it is a huge blow to Clemson's offense.

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Posted on: October 30, 2011 4:28 am
 

ACC Winners and Losers: Week 9



Posted by Chip Patterson


A handy recap of who really won and who really lost that you won't find in the box score.

WINNER: Georgia Tech's ACC title hopes

"I know a lot of people are disappointed that wrote us off," head coach Paul Johnson said after the game. "Let us finish the season before you do our tombstone."

The Yellow Jackets were reeling. Their offense was sputtering, and pundits nationwide had hopped off the Yellow Jackets' bandwagon following their 3-2 start in ACC play. But head coach Paul Johnson and defensive coordinator Al Groh know all too well how fast things can change for the better - or for the worse. Georgia Tech dominated time of possession and their defense forced turnovers from a young and hasty Clemson offense that, for the first time in several games, showed their youth. With leading rusher Andre Ellington (ankle) sidelined, Georgia Tech's defense capitalized on fumbles from both D.J. Howard and Mike Bellamy to give the ball right back to Tevin Washington. Washington's 176 rushing yards (most ever by a Georgia Tech quarterback) displayed the preparation by Georgia Tech's staff and players. Just two weeks ago Maryland quarterback CJ Brown burned the Tigers' defense with his legs, forcing the 56-point performance to secure the win.

But this was not Maryland's defense, this was Al Groh's swarming and opportunistic unit. Credit the linebackers and secondary for manning up with Clemson's playmakers and taking advantage when Tajh Boyd began to force throws into coverage. As Clemson failed to chip into Georgia Tech's lead as the game extended, the urgency turned to recklessness for the Tigers. The Yellow Jackets smelled blood, and when it was time to deliver a play defensive back Jemea Thomas was in the end zone to snag the interception and seal the win.

Georgia Tech now gets a much-deserved week off before hosting Virginia Tech on a Thursday night in Bobby Dodd Stadium. Considering what we saw from the Yellow Jackets and the Hokies, it is fair to say the game could serve as an unofficial ACC Coastal Division title match. If Georgia Tech can win out in conference - including a defeat of No. 15 Virginia Tech - they win the division thanks to the head-to-head tiebreaker.

LOSER: Clemson's BCS title hopes

It's hard to say that "Clemson pulled a Clemson" with their 31-17 loss to Georgia Tech on Saturday night, because a ton of credit goes to Georgia Tech for their preparation and execution. But the loss does likely knock Clemson out of contention for a shot at the national championship. The Tigers will fall from their position in the Top 5 of the BCS and now refocus on winning the ACC Atlantic Division. With Wake Forest and NC State left on the conference schedule, the Tigers can win out and earn a bid back to the ACC Championship Game in December. Winning the title game will put the Tigers in their first-ever BCS bowl game. It won't be the title game in New Orleans, but it will be a big step for Dabo Swinney and this young Clemson squad.

WINNER: David Wilson

Virginia Tech did not do much to impress the voters with their 14-10 victory, but when it comes to the ACC standings the only thing that counts is wins. With the road in on Saturday, the Hokies improve to 8-1 and maintain their hold on first place in the ACC Coastal Division. Ugly wins have become of a reoccurring practice for Frank Beamer's squad in 2010, with the win over Duke looking eerily similar to East Carolina, Marshall, and Boston College. One similar aspect to those wins, and most of the Virginia Tech games this season has been the production of junior running back David Wilson. For the eighth time this season, Wilson led the way offensively for the Hokies with 120+ rushing yards. It has become Virginia Tech's M.O. in 2011: establish a lead, then let a Wilson-led ground attack eat up the clock while Bud Foster's defense creates turnovers and delivers stops. It's not pretty, but it has worked. Without Wilson, Virginia Tech is a .500 team. With Wilson, they are set to make a run at another ACC Coastal Division crown.

LOSER: Placekickers in the ACC

Week 9 featured some horrendous kicking performances in the ACC. In some cases, like Boston College's Nate Freese, missing on both of your field goal attempts wasn't that costly in the 28-17 victory over Maryland. Duke's Will Snyderwine, however, cost the Blue Devils dearly by missing three field goals in the 14-10 loss to No. 15 Virginia Tech. As a conference, the ACC's place kickers combined to hit only 9 of 23 field goal attempts this weekend. It wasn't as though weather was a factor to blame, there was just inaccuracy all across the board. Only Wake Forest's Jimmy Newman and Georgia Tech's Justin Moore were mistake-free, each connecting on 1 of 1 from inside 25 yards.

WINNER: Roland Finch

It has been a frustrating season for Boston College. Considered to be a possible ACC dark horse coming into the season, the Eagles have battled through injuries to key players and close losses in their disappointing first half of the 2011 season. But Boston College had something to celebrate on Saturday, thanks to the play of Roland Finch. The sophomore running back was listed behind star Montel Harris and Andre Williams when the season began, but injuries in the backfield have given Finch a chance to step up. He delivered against Maryland, torching the Terps' defensive for 243 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 39 carries. Williams added 16 carries for 72 yards and a touchdown as well in the Eagles' 28-17 win. Finch had never broken the 100-yard mark before, and he accomplished that feat before halftime.

LOSER: Miami's consistency 

Just when it seemed like Miami had turned things around, the Hurricanes suffer another close loss in part because of penalties and mental mistakes. All four of the Hurricanes' losses have come by eight points or less, with Miami's offense having a chance to take the lead or win the game in each failing effort. But Thursday's loss 28-24 loss to Virginia came with some embarrassment, losing at home in front of the 2001 National Championship team. That team, arguably one of the best championship teams of this decade, saw the Hurricanes have game-changing plays called back because of penalties, missed blocks, and giving up the big play. After the 24-7 victory against Geogia Tech, Miami submitted themselves as Coastal Division contenders. Their encore performance against Virginia just four days later retracted that application.

WINNER: Mike London

The second-year head coach has now led Virginia to victories over Georgia Tech and Miami, and positioned the Cavaliers for their first bowl appearance since 2007. Virginia needs just one more victory to reach six wins, and even if they fall to Maryland in College Park there is a winnable date with Duke the following Saturday. London was identified as a rising star in the coaching business, and his work on the recruiting trail is now complimented with some early success. After the loss to Southern Miss and narrow victories over Indiana and Idaho there was some doubt throughout the Cavaliers' fan base. But after the big division wins and a 5-3 start, the support for London has never been stronger in Charlottesville.

LOSER: Tom O'Brien

Hard to imagine that NC State head coach Tom O'Brien would be mentioned in the "hot seat" discussion, but the buzz began to grow after the Wolfpack were shut out 34-0 against Florida State in Tallahassee. Just 10 months ago, O'Brien was hoisting the Champs Sports Bowl trophy after the first 9-win season since Phillip Rivers was suiting up for the Pack.

O'Brien's teams at NC State have often been injury-plagued, and last season was arguably the healthiest roster he's had since arriving in Raleigh. But with two of NC State's four 2011 wins against FCS teams, and a 15-21 record against ACC competition, O'Brien will likely begin to face job security questions in the coming weeks. It is not normal to think a coach would be on the hot seat after a successful 2010, but when the ACC Coach of the Year can be dismissed in a matter of weeks (see: Ralph Friedgen) it seems as though few jobs are safe anymore in the ACC.

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Posted on: October 25, 2011 4:36 pm
 

Keys to the Game: Clemson at Georgia Tech

Posted by Chip Patterson

CLEMSON WILL WIN IF: The Tigers play their game. Clemson has displayed a wealth of offensive talent in recent weeks that suggests there are no teams in the ACC that should out-duel the Tigers. Focusing on Sammy Watkins leaves DeAndre Hopkins open, and even when Andre Ellington and Mike Bellamy are on the sideline freshman D.J. Howard has shown he can be just as effective. Clemson is able to jump out to leads and force the opposition to play catchup. That's when the Tigers unleash Brandon Thompson and Andre Branch, two pleasant surprises in the pass rush game for defensive coordinator Kevin Steele. The biggest key down the stretch for Clemson is to maintain their focus and not look past any opponent. With 20+ true or redshirt freshman taking the field every Saturday, youth seems to be the only concern left on the schedule for the Tigers.

GEORGIA TECH WILL WIN IF: They can possess the ball for at least 40 minutes of game time. With an offense as explosive as Clemson's, the best defense is to keep Tajh Boyd and Co. off the field. Luckily, Paul Johnson's option based offense - when run effectively - gives the Yellow Jackets an opportunity to dictate the pace of the game. Georgia Tech has struggled in their last two games to keep drives alive, converting on less than half of their third downs in both losing efforts. The other key to the long, time-consuming drives is turning them into touchdowns. Georgia Tech has struggled in the kicking game this season, and field goals are not enough to hang with Clemson. Every A-back and B-back needs to be a threat, and Georgia Tech needs to turn long drives into seven points to pull the upset.

X-FACTOR: Georgia Tech's linebackers. The unit started off the season much-improved in their second year of Al Groh's 3-4 scheme. They were able to frustrate opposing offenses by using the extra linebacker to disguise blitzes and make plays in coverage. But the start of conference play lined up with injuries to starting linebackers Daniel Drummond and Jeremiah Attaochu. Both are finally have been deemed "100 percent" after suffering leg injuries against N.C. State on Oct. 1, and must play the best game of their seasons in order to knock off the Tigers. North Carolina was able to find some success in the first half by sending an extra rusher to get in the face of Tajh Boyd. Attaouchu has been the best pass rusher on the team this season, and needs to show up for the Yellow Jackets to have a chance.

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