I made a comment about Maryland’s loss to Boston College without actually reading anything except the score. I had assumed that their last quarterback survived the game. I was wrong. Turns out Caleb Rowe became the 3rd Maryland QB to tear an ACL this year, leaving the Terps without true quarterback. The Terps next turn to “Shawn Petty, a 240-pound linebacker who ran an option attack in high school.”
My expectations were initially low going into the BC, and they became significantly lower when it was announced that Sammy Watkins would miss the game due to illness. I expected a lackluster outcome from the offense and a steaming pile of crap from the defense. Despite a few scares, my expectations were shown to be well off the mark.
The offense is so prolific now that I am completely spoiled. I find myself irritated that offensive perfection is not being achieved. Any drive that doesn’t result in points is upsetting. I mean, last night team scored only 45 points on 576 yards of offense. Apparently I need more reminders that no one is perfect, not even the pros, and especially not college athletes. However there is of course room for improvement. Eight penalties for 54 yards and two turnovers is sub-optimal.
The defense in the first half made it seem that this game would be a shootout. Fortunately, and to their credit, they tightened up in the second half. They prevented BC from scoring on several early drives, allowing the offense to get comfortably ahead. They deserve credit for forcing two turnovers. Allowing 10 points in the second half is still short of ideal, but it is much better than the 21 points scored in the first half.
At the end of the day, it was nice to see the team rise above the adversity and record a solid win on the road, seemingly unaffected by the outcome from the prior week. The team still has a lot to accomplish this year. Hopefully they can remain focused and continue maturing. They have a reasonable chance at being able to finish the regular season with only a single loss, and if FSU trips up, they could find themselves in the driver’s seas for another divisional championship.
Last Saturday I suffered from a power outage that began at 3PM and carried on into the next day. Plus the local station that carried the Clemson game was having technical problems and kept switching over to old episodes of Cops. Today my cable service is on the fritz and I only get a few sports channels. This has limited my ability to watch college football, but I am unconvinced that I have actually missed much, if any, good college football.
Clemson – I’m certainly glad we beat Auburn, especially considering how not-good they look now. The win over Ball State was a great example of how handle a non-conference gimme: load up the points early and give the reserves a lot of PT. We weren’t so lucky against Furman. We were plenty lucky, yes, but not in the same way. There is an important question as to whether the Clemson defense is as bad, if not worse, than it was last year, or whether the coaches are just sand-bagging to avoid giving things away before the FSU game. Let’s hope it is the latter.
FSU – The ‘Noles are so far living up to the preseason hype, something they haven’t been able to do much the last few years. I thought Wake would put up a bit more of a fight than the previous two nobodies that FSU trounced. The results were little different as the final score was 52-0. FSU has allowed just 3 points all season. That’s impressive. What is not impressive is FSU attendance. Doak Cambpell Stadium seats over 82,000. The announced attendance today was just 68,833, and it looked a lot worse than that on TV. (And for a reason why I have great disdain of SBNation, they claimed FSU had a “capacity crowd” today)
VT – Speaking of looking bad on TV, the Hokies self-destructed today. What a shit show. They turned the ball over 4 times and were beaten convincingly by a Pitt team that had previously shown only an aptitude for losing horribly. Hopefully for VT fans, this is just their annual bed shitting incident, and not a prelude of how they will perform for the rest of the season.
GT – I thought the Cavs would put up a fight. I was wrong. Very wrong indeed. Tech rolled 56-20.
Rest of the ACC – Who cares. Maybe UNC or NC State will sniff a division crown, but so far there doesn’t seem to be much going on in the rest of the league.
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.
Seeing Bashaud Breeland go down last night with a concussion, I was reminded of a story I read a couple years ago. There are some cues — outside of the hit itself — that can provide quick evidence that someone has experienced a severe head injury, probably a concussion. This can be particularly useful for coaches, players, and trainers… or pretty much anyone, actually.
Led by Jonathan Lifshitz, assistant professor in the UK Spinal Cord & Brain Injury Research Center, the team was collecting data to document a visible, involuntary response to head trauma. Their findings could have immediate value in helping coaches make educated, objective decisions about whether to return an athlete to play after a blow to the head…
Lifshitz describes the response, dubbed the “fencing response,” as a forearm posture that resembles the en garde position in competitive sword fighting. It also can appear as a defensive boxing pose. The fencing response – which has also been observed in rats under experimental conditions – indicates damage to blood vessels and neurons in a critical brainstem region that controls balance, Lifshitz said.
In the course of their research, the team reviewed some 2,000 “knockout” videos on YouTube, eventually narrowing their sample to three dozen that showed moderate-to-severe impacts to the head, where the person receiving the blow did not immediately get up. Of those, two-thirds exhibited a clear fencing response. The response was noted particularly in football and mixed martial arts, Lifshitz said.
“The fencing response frequently takes place before the player even hits the ground,” Lifshitz said.
Among the videos the team reviewed was the head-to-head collision of Baltimore Raven Willis McGahee and Pittsburgh Steeler Ryan Clark in a Jan. 18 AFC playoff game. McGahee’s immediate fencing response is clearly visible in the video.
Moderate-to-severe head trauma can cause permanent brain damage or death if ignored by medical staff. Unfortunately, sometimes these injuries are not readily apparent. The fencing response provides an immediate visual cue that could help injured players get the attention they need, Lifshitz said.
“The observation of the fencing response can help coaches and trainers make immediate and future return-to-play decisions,” Lifshitz said. “But the response is not universal. The absence of a fencing response should not be taken as a sign that no injury has occurred.”
Here’s the McGahee-Clark collision.
Here’s a similar example with a hit on Georgia’s Mario Raley.
For those who want to watch a replay of the hit on Breeland, I don’t know any youtube clips, but the play began with 2:12 left in the first quarter. That is about the start of minute 38 of the replay broadcast on ESPN3.
Due to a wedding involving a Miami alum, I was unable to see the live broadcast of Clemson-FSU. Leave it to Miami fans to make college football less enjoyable for everyone else. Fortunately, due to the beauty of ESPN3, I was able to watch a replay during the week when I was stuck at work late. Unfortunately, despite the outcome, I wasn’t entirely impressed by the game against FSU. The FSU game doesn’t give me a lot of confidence going into the Tech game. However there may be some upside out there for Clemson.
On the downside for Clemson…
Clemson beat FSU by 5 point in Clemson. And FSU was missing many of their starting offensive skill players. And FSU gave a lot away to Clemson in the way of many stupid penalties (so many I lost count).
Now Clemson has to go on the road, in a tough place to play, to face a team that’s actually pretty tough to beat regardless of location. This is the first road trip for Clemson’s talented true freshman. I’m not aware (not that I’ve really checked) of important injuries to Virginia Tech. And it seems unlikely that VT is going to provide a lot of freebies in the way of stupid penalties and turnovers. For all these reason, there’s a very good reason why VT is favored by 7 points.
On the upside for Clemson…
Clemson is still the underdog. I feel like Clemson plays better (not that they necessarily win) when they are the underdog.
Pleased is actually an understatement. Three weeks in, I’m happier than I expected to be at this point in the season. A few thoughts:
I don’t like have close games against nobody competition (regardless of what league they won last season). However I do understand that there was a lot of new everything this year (QB, receivers, OC, etc) and that it’s good to save things for the real games.
Against Auburn, I would have liked for Clemson to dominate the entire game. Clearly. Nonetheless, it was nice to see the ACC Tigers take control of the game and maintain that control until the final whistle. It’s so much better than getting off to a quick lead early in the game only to see that lead get erased in the closing minutes of the game.
3-0 is good, but Clemson still has no wins in the ACC. In other words, the meaningful season has yet to begin. And by the way, I expect Death Valley will be rocking on Saturday. Unfortunately I won’t be around due to a wedding.
The ACC is expanding, again. Frankly I’d rather the ACC be a 9 or maybe 10 team league. I like being able to play everyone in the league each season. It seems to me that super-conference divisions will basically just be old-style conferences. In the end, it seems to me we’re just remixing and renaming things. Yawn. (side note:, I hope Texas gets screwed.) Not that I particularly care for Syracuse or Pitt (actually, Pitt? really?), but I think it best serves Clemson by having beatable competition than having to face-off week after week against world beaters. Said differently, FSU, Miami, and VT would probably be nobodies if they had each joined the SEC 20 years ago. Said a third way, the major conferences have plenty of teams with mediocre results; perhaps not the preferred destination for a school seeking to improve on a decade’s worth of mediocre results. Although I readily admit I have zero desire to see games in Pittsburgh or Syracuse.