I have to hand it to this coaching staff. Who would have thought that the team could win the conference for the first time in two decades and simultaneously leave the impression that things are not moving in the right direction? What a disaster the Orange Bowl was! Rather than procrastinate on another post, I’ll leave this short one.
I’ve often defended the Clemson defense. For years they have played well, for the most part, despite whatever crap they are given by the offense. I was even willing to do the same this year. Was willing. After the bowl game I took a closer look. The defense stinks.
Here are a few stats to keep in mind:
- In terms of yards per play, the defense went from 4.8 last season to 5.6 this season.
- In terms of yards per game, the defense went from 320 to 394.
- In terms of touchdowns per game, the team went from 2.1 to 3.7.
- In terms of rank in total defense, the team went from 19th to 71st.
- In terms of rank in scoring defense, the team went from 13th to 81st.
From that stats I could find, those are just about the the worst team rankings since at least 1989, which is the furthest back I could find stats on the NCAA’s website. I have to imagine the defense was pretty good for the rest of the 80′s. The only year that even remotely compared to this season was 2001. That year, Reggie Herring’s defense ranked 71st in total defense and 79th in scoring defense. Reggie Herring was fired after that season. Comparatively, we’ve had pretty good defenses post 2001, especially post John Lovett’s first season in 2002. That makes this year’s performance a major regression.
Looking at all this, I really miss Vic Koenning, and I’m frankly a bit worried since his new job is at UNC. I’m also not saying that Kevin Steele should be fired (although I am saying that precedent would justify his being fired). But I will say that if any other schools want him, and he’s willing to go on his own, then we shouldn’t stop him.