Posted on: April 13, 2011 10:03 am
Edited on: April 13, 2011 10:05 am
Posted by Chip Patterson
One of the moves made by head coach Dabo Swinney at the end of a disappointing 6-7 season was to make some changes on the coaching staff. One of his most notable hires was bringing in Tulsa offensive coordinator Chad Morris . While Clemson's offense sputtered in 2010 under Billy Napier, Morris' Golden Hurricanes finished the regular season ranked sixth nationally in points per game (41.4). But with quarterback Kyle Parker departing for the major leagues, many Tiger fans have been curious as to the new look of the offense under the direction of Morris and quarterback Tajh Boyd .
Early guesses have pinned the Tigers as a fast-paced rushing offense , based on Morris' style, personnel, and the observations from the Clemson's spring game on Saturday. Before jumping to Tulsa, Morris was coaching under Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn . In both of his years at Auburn (which includes the Cam-less 2009 campaign), Auburn has rushed more than they passed. Last season at Tulsa, Morris called 537 runs as opposed to 469 passes.
Morris has also said since his arrival that he was hoping to speed up the Clemson offense. His goal is for the Tigers to run 80 offensive plays per game in 2011, which is a significant increase from 2010's pace. Judging by the spring game numbers, both assumptions seem to be on point. The Tigers ran 69 rushing plays to 61 passing plays, and even in the scrimmage-format kept things moving with little time between downs .
A solid rushing attack will be especially beneficial for sophomore quarterback Tajh Boyd. Boyd was inconsistent filling in for Parker at different points in 2010, showing some flashes of potential and a lot of room to grow. His performance in the spring game did not "wow" anyone, completing 8 of 24 passes. Boyd does add another rushing threat for opposing defenses, but he will need to improve his passing to avoid becoming one-dimensional.
Posted on: January 18, 2011 10:27 am
Edited on: January 18, 2011 10:56 am
Posted by Chip Patterson
1. Florida State is an early favorite for 2011 - After dropping back-to-back games to North Carolina State and at home to North Carolina, Florida State looked like they had not completely shaken the consistency issues that have plagued the Seminoles in the last couple of seasons. In order to have a shot at the ACC title, Florida State would need to win out the final month of their ACC schedule. Not only did first-year coach Jimbo Fisher get his team to the ACC Championship Game, but they put up an impressive performance against Virginia Tech then followed it with a convincing win over South Carolina, the champions of the SEC East.
If one of the chief concerns for the Seminoles in 2011 is replacing Christian Ponder, then fans should feel very confident in their chances with E.J. Manuel at the helm. Manuel filled in for Ponder on three different occasions near the end of the season, culminating with his Chick Fil-A Bowl performance that helped seal the 26-17 win for Florida State. Additionally, all three of Florida State's top rushers (who combined collected 1,863 yards rushing and 17 touchdowns) are all returning next season. Florida State not only looks like an early ACC favorite, but perhaps a national favorite as well heading into the 2011 season.
2. If Russell Wilson is done, he went out in style - Russell Wilson was assumed to be as good as gone by many at the conclusion of the 2010 season. The junior quarterback has already been drafted by the Colorado Rockies, is engaged, and would be able to graduate in May if he chooses to do so. But after N.C. State's 23-7 victory over West Virginia in the Champs Sports Bowl, Wilson hinted that he may have interest in playing football professionally as well.
"I want to be a starting quarterback in the NFL one day, and I want to be a starting second baseman in Major League Baseball one day," Wilson said to reporters after the game. "No matter what, I work my butt off every day to try to be the best and that's my mindset."
The January 15 deadline to declare for the NFL draft has come and gone, and if Wilson decides he wants to rejoin the Wolfpack after participating with the Rockies in Spring Training he will still have that option. Clemson quarterback Kyle Parker did the same thing heading into the 2010 season with the Tigers. However, if Wilson decides to join the Rockies and start cashing in on his baseball career, he will wrapped up his college football career with a nearly flawless 275 yard, 2 touchdown, 0 interception performance that earned him Champs Sports Bowl MVP honors.
3. Virginia Tech can't shake the big game curse - The Hokies have been incredibly dominant in the ACC since joining the conference in 2004, but they have struggled to match that superiority with big-time wins on the national level. Virginia Tech has won the conference title four times in the last seven years, and appeared in four of the six ACC Championship Games. But against teams ranked in the top 5 nationally, the Hokies are 1-27 all-time and 1-19 during Frank Beamer's tenure in Blacksburg. Many figured that the Orange Bowl would be a chance for the Hokies to shake the stigma of failing to perform against top teams, and at halftime it looked like they might have a chance to pull the upset.
But in the second half Andrew Luck picked apart Bud Foster's defense while Stanford held Tyrod Taylor and the Virginia Tech offense scoreless while the Cardinal ran away with the 40-12 victory. However, it is important that Hokies fans don't dwell on the failures against the top 5 heading into 2011. With the kind of turnover Virginia Tech is expecting on both sides of the ball, defending their conference title will be a difficult task on its own.
4. ACC Coastal dropped the ball - This is more of a season-long lesson, but the ACC Coastal continued to be the less impressive division through the end of the bowl season. In the preseason polls, there five ACC teams in the Top 25, with four highest ranked teams (Virginia Tech, Miami, Georgia Tech, North Carolina) all coming from the Coastal Division. Not only did the balance of power appear to shift towards the Atlantic Division during the season, the bowl records from the postseason also indicate that the Atlantic may be the superior division.
Coastal teams went 1-3 during the postseason, with only North Carolina squeaking out their double overtime win over Tennessee in the Music City Bowl. The Atlantic, on the other hand, saw Florida State, Maryland, and N.C. State all pick up impressive victories in their bowl games. With the talent that Florida State and Maryland are bringing back, it would be surprising to see the media side with a new division heading into the 2011 season.
5. Ralph Friedgen left Randy Edsall a winning squad - Friedgen had an emotion al final game as Maryland's head coach, as his team bludgeoned ECU 51-20 in the Military Bowl. The players dedicated the beatdown to their head coach on his way out, capping off an impressive finish to the season that saw the Terps climb one game away from an ACC Championship Game appearance. But the time has come and gone for Ralph Friedgen fans to be upset with his dismissal from Maryland. Former Connecticut coach Randy Edsall has been hired, and the Terps are moving forward. What Friedgen did leave was a young and talented Maryland squad that will be a real threat in 2010. Edsall was a safe hire for athletic director Kevin Anderson, and the former Huskies head coach brought in some firepower with offensive coordinator Gary Crowton.
The last couple seasons have not been pleasant for Crowton, catching the blame from LSU fans for an offense that ranked near the bottom of the SEC in 2009 and 2010. But he saw his most successful season in his first year with Matt Flynn under center, and Terps fans will hope that a talented quarterback like ACC Freshman of the Year Danny O'Brien will recreate that success of the 2007 LSU offense under Crowton's direction.
Tags: ACC, ACC Football, Andrew Luck, Christian Ponder, Clemson, Colorado Rockies, Danny O'Brien, EJ Manuel, Florida State, Frank Beamer, Gary Crowton, Georgia Tech, Georgia Tech, Jimbo Fisher, Kyle Parker, NC State, NFL Draft, North Carolina, Ralph Friedgen, Randy Edsall, Russell Wilson, South Carolina, Stanford, Tyrod Taylor, Virginia Tech, What I Learned, What I Learned Bowl Edition
Posted on: December 31, 2010 5:54 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
South Florida weathered a late charge by Clemson to win, 31-26.
Offense: From a productivity standpoint, B.J. Daniels regressed substantially this year from his brilliant freshman campaign; his passing rating was down 20 points, and he rushed for over 500 fewer yards on the season. Not surprisingly, the Bulls' scoring dropped three points a game from last year. So it was nice to see Daniels put together a solid performance today, going 19-26 for two scores and rushing for another touchdown. At one point, Daniels completed 10 straight passes on the day. The running game was generally ineffective, with the Bulls' 38 rushes netting only 90 yards, but the ground attack helped open up passing lanes for Daniels. Grade: B
Defense: There might not be another team in the country that runs as many screens as Clemson, and to USF's credit, that screen game didn't exactly take off today. USF also swallowed up the run game, allowing just 50 yards on 27 carries. Of course, giving up 26 points isn't exactly a point of pride and there's no telling what would have happened if that last onside kick had gone another two feet before being recovered, but still. Grade: B
Coaching: There wasn't anything terribly special about Skip Holtz and his gameday coaching, which is really what fans should want to see: no surprises from the sideline. In that respect he did a good job, and the aforementioned defensive successes against the run and screen passing games indicate solid preparatory work coming into the game. Holtz probably needs to get his team's onside kick return game fixed, but he's got all offseason to work on that. Grade: A
Offense: It's hard to say whether South Florida or Clemson fans were more upset to see Kyle Parker leave the game with broken ribs; Parker's a fine quarterback who'll probably have a stellar career with the Colorado Rockies. He also single-handedly made his touchdown pass happen by scrambling away from pressure and finding his running back wide open on a check-down for the score. And yet, he also threw two picks and was brutally inconsistent. So was Tajh Boyd in relief, but at least Boyd threw two touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Still, Dabo Swinney needs to figure out a way to get Jamie Harper some help in the run game; he rushed for all of 34 yards today and really never got free. That can't happen in a big game. Grade: C
Defense: It's something of an oddity that Clemson gave up 31 points; the Tiger defense was fast enough to keep USF from turning the corner on the sidelines, as the Bulls tried routinely. And yet, when USF got down to it and threw the ball downfield or rushed between the tackles, it encountered little resistance. Clemson has got to tighten up on defense if it ever wants to make the leap. Grade: C-
Coaching: I was ready to praise Dabo Swinney at the half when he decided to go for it on 4th and 7 near midfield late in the half, and was rewarded with a big play and eventually a touchdown. He then kicked an extra point rather than trying to get the game to within three points at the break, which was also the right call. Those are decisions that coaches routinely screw up and Swinney got them right.
And yet, he also called two punts in the fourth quarter -- one on a 4th and 1, which, WHY?! -- and his decision to go for two on Clemson's first touchdown of the fourth quarter trying to get the Tigers to within 10 meant Clemson couldn't afford to kick a field goal for the rest of the game. Yes, Georgia would have eventually needed that conversion, but conversions should be delayed until necessary in order to keep as many scoring options on the table during a comeback. And last, kicker Richard Jackson is apparently Clemson's onside specialist, and he put up two absolutely beautiful onside kicks in the fourth quarter. And with a weapon like that on special teams, why not use him all the time? Serious question. If you can reliably recover half or even a third of your onside kicks, that is an absolute game-changer. Do something with it! Grade: C
Today's game was about what people should have expected coming in: a slapfight between two physically talented but inconsistent and untrustworthy teams. Nothing was particularly impressive about the game, short of Clemson's near-comeback thanks to Boyd and Jackson. In fact, I'm still bitter that Swinney doesn't use Jackson on every single kickoff. It's like playing make-it-take-it! C'mon, Clemson! Grade: B-
Posted on: November 29, 2010 2:12 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
When Kyle Parker told the Colorado Rockies he was going to play his senior year at Clemson before signing his professional baseball contract -- costing himself a year's worth of multi-million dollar salary in the process and risking his entire diamond career in the event of injury -- there's no doubt he didn't foresee his Tigers stumbling to a disappointing 6-6 record, or finishing his career with mediocre numbers like a 57.1 completion percentage, 12-to-10 touchdown-to-interception ratio, and 6.4 yards-per-attempt average for the season.
But this weekend's -- now apparent -- end to his time in Clemson must be worse than even Parker's worst nightmares. He was benched for redshirt freshman Tajh Boyd towards the end of Saturday's ugly 29-7 home loss to archrival South Carolina and did not return, leaving the game having gone a hideous 7-of-17 for just 117 yards and one interception duly returned by the Gamecocks for an easy touchdown.
So no one would blame Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney for making the decision to start the Boyd era in the Tigers' bowl game based on performance alone; with so little to play for, getting his certain 2011 starter as much experience as possible seems like at least as big a priority than trying to nab a largely meaningless seventh win in the Independence Bowl . But it's possible Parker's performance in the classroom has made that decision for him. Clemson Rivals site TigerIllustrated is reporting that Parker could be declared academically ineligible and be forced to miss his team's postseason game.
That's yet to be confirmed by any second media outlet (that we're aware of as of this posting), but it doesn't change the fact that all indications are that Kyle Parker has started his final game -- and has maybe even played his last down -- for the Tigers. When top college athletes turn down gobs of professional money to stay amateur, help their teammates, finish their commitment to their school, etc., it makes for a much more heartwarming story to see that decision pay off in stirring victories and rousing vindication. But this being the real world, sometimes that decision is going to end in heartbreak and disappointment, and it looks for all the world like that's how it's going to end for Parker.
Posted on: November 2, 2010 11:15 am
Edited on: November 2, 2010 11:17 am
Posted by Chip Patterson
Kyle Parker became the toast of Clemson, SC with his decision to return to the gridiron for one last season with the Tigers. The sophomore quarterback was drafted 26th overall by the Colorado Rockies this summer, but agreed to a contract that would allow him to play one more season of football at Clemson. Both Parker and head coach Dabo Swinney have maintained that the deal, worth $1.4 million, has had very little to do with any football decisions once Parker committed to the team in August. At the beginning of the season, there were the makings of a heroic final run for the baseball standout. Parker started the first three games tossing six touchdowns and just one interception, and had an impressive 220 yard performance in a 27-24 overtime loss to now top-ranked Auburn. In that game against the Tigers, Parker was beat up by Auburn's defense and sustained a rib injury. Since then it has been a different Parker under center. In the month of October, Parker threw just two touchdowns and five interceptions in five games.
After Saturday's 16-10 loss to Boston College, Swinney has begun to consider the future with his quarterback decisions in 2010. Backup quarterback Tajh Boyd told the Charleston Post and Courier on Monday that he has been told he will play on Saturday against N.C. State. Swinney met with the redshirt freshman for about 30 minutes on Monday, and while he did not promise any number of series or snaps, did tell Boyd to be ready to play against the Wolfpack. At this point in the week Parker is still the Tigers' starter under center, but with the nagging injuries and drop-off in performance it is not surprising to see Swinney start to look towards grooming the replacement for the baseball star.
Posted on: October 2, 2010 2:05 pm
Edited on: October 2, 2010 2:13 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
Miami quarterback Jacory Harris is a gambling quarterback. His tendency to sling the ball around the field leads to big numbers, but also many interceptions. On Saturday against Clemson, the picks seem to be contagious.
Clemson quarterback Kyle Parker has matched Harris' two interceptions with a pair of his own as the Tigers trail Miami 27-14 at the break. The Hurricanes have been dominant, and were it not for the red zone interceptions, could be working with an even more sizable lead. The Hurricanes have gotten a huge first half performance from wide receiver Leonard Hankerson. The 6-3 senior has 131 yards recieving and three touchdowns, and is the recipient of five of Harris' eight completions on the afternoon.
Posted on: September 20, 2010 9:19 am
Edited on: September 20, 2010 9:20 am
Posted by Chip Patterson
After getting tossed around the field like a child's toy for four quarters, Clemson quarterback Kyle Parker will be ready to go against for the Tigers against Miami.
Parker suffered a rib injury after a big hit in the 27-24 overtime loss at Auburn, but the sophomore quarterback refused to be taken out of the game. Auburn continued to attack Parker, and the visible pain and anguish on Parker's face as he repeatedly pulled himself up from the ground was almost difficult to watch.
But a surprise to none, Parker will still get the start in two weeks when the Tigers host Miami on October 2. The off-week will be beneficial to a Clemson team that saw multiple injuries on Saturday, including starting offensive lineman David Smith, who suffered a high ankle sprain and will be until "sometime in October."
What Clemson did show on Saturday was arguably one of the best performances from an ACC team this season. While the conference appeared to be in jeopardy after 4 of the 5 ranked teams fell from the polls, Clemson has given the conference a frontrunner that can contend on the national stage. The Tigers have jumped Florida State as a favorite to win the Atlantic Division and return to the ACC championship game for the second year in a row. Clemson has not won a conference title since 1991, and they are seeking redemption from the 39-34 heartbreaker against Georgia Tech a year ago.
Posted on: September 18, 2010 9:40 pm
Edited on: September 18, 2010 11:24 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
[UPDATE: Kyle Parker is indeed back in the game, albeit clearly limited. Meanwhile, his Tigers have blown their 17-0 lead. It's now tied at 17.]
[UPDATE, 10:00 p.m.: Parker has just led Clemson on a game-tying drive. With 12:36 left, it's 24 apiece.]
With the Clemson Tigers nursing a 17-10 lead in the second half at Auburn, Clemson can ill afford the loss of a key player. And yet, that exact situation may come to pass, as quarterback Kyle Parker was hurt while trying to rush for a first down.
Parker fumbled the snap on a third-and-eight, and after picking the ball up, Parker took off from the pocket. He was well short of the first down when he dove forward--something quarterbacks are routinely discouraged from doing for this exact reason--and received a helmet to the kidneys as he hit the ground.
Parker was in immediate and severe pain, and he struggled just to walk off the field on his own power. But luckily for the Tigers, initial reports are that he merely had the wind knocked out of him, and Parker may not actually miss an offensive snap.