Topic: Furman Final Thoughts & A&M Preview (Long)
Replies: 9   Last Post: Sep 4, 2018, 4:32 PM by: Slagathor
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Furman Final Thoughts & A&M Preview (Long)

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Posted: Sep 4, 2018, 1:31 PM

I gave some quick "gut reaction" thoughts immediately after the Furman game on Saturday, but I wanted to come back after I've had a chance to calm down, take a step back, and breath; and also give myself some more time to gather my thoughts, re-watch the game, read other's thoughts, etc.

So, I wanted to re-visit some things from the Furman game and take a quick look ahead to A&M next week.

Furman Game:

I mentioned this before, but I was really impressed with how Furman played. They were motivated, well-coached, very prepared, and didn't roll over like some FCS teams tend to do (ex: Kent State last year...). On defense, they blitzed and stacked the box, daring us to pass the ball (following the blueprint of how teams defended Clemson last year); which, caused us some issues early on until we settled into our passing offense. On offense, they were VERY overmatched, but they attacked the edges of our defense (which, they weirdly found success in) and weren't afraid to switch it up or pass the ball downfield. Furman brought back a lot of players from a solid FCS playoff team last year, so I wasn't all that surprised that they put up a good fight. All respect to them.


- OLine: After re-watching the game and reading up on certain details, I think I overreacted when I said the OL played poorly. A couple of the sacks given up were on the TE or RB, not the OL. Plus, in some instances, the OL opened up good running lanes, but our RBs didn't recognize them (specifically, Choice). Not to mention, Furman prioritized stopping the run by running a tight alignment in the box. Dabo also rotated a lot of players on the OL, so there were some younger, inexperienced players in at different points during the game; which, this effects continuity (I know Reeves gave up a sack at some point). So, needless to say, the OL played better than I initially thought. I guess it just looked like we weren't "blowing up" Furman at the LOS and making it look easy. Well, given all the factors I just listed, I think we're fine on the OL; especially given it's just the first game.

- WR: Not much to say here besides we have ridiculous talent and depth at this position. Amari Rodgers absolutely balled out; and don't be surprised if he leads our team in one or more receiving categories this year. I won't get into specifics in regards to other receivers, but they all flashed. Higgins, Ross, Powell, Thompson, and Kendrick all had amazing plays. I will say that I think the perimeter blocking by some receivers was lacking on some plays. With our offense needing execution at every phase to get back in the upper echelons of offensive performance, we need better blocking on the edges by our receivers.

TE: WE HAVE A TE RECEIVING THREAT. I REPEAT, WE HAVE A TE RECEIVING THREAT. Man, it was refreshing to see our TEs involved in the passing game. It's a little unfortunate, but exciting, that it came from a freshman TE, hopefully the other TEs get involved as well. Outside of a few missed blocks by Cannon Smith, I thought the TEs blocked well too. Hopefully, Galloway can gain the coaches trust and improve his blocking to get on the field more.

- RB: With the defense Furman was running and some missed assignments, the RBs didn't have an AMAZING day; but definitely solid. Etiene is Etiene. While he didn't bust a big run, I think his workhorse like day doesn't take away from his elite status or excitement. I was a little disappointed by Choice though, he missed some running lanes and missed some blocks. With him being bumped up to 2nd string I expected more; he'll bounce back though. Feaster flashed when he got in. It was nice to see him play hard when he got his opportunities. Finally, Lyn-J you beautiful, aggressive freshman, you. He had the best rushing play of the day and showed immense potential. We got a good one boys.

- QB: I'll break this down between Kelly and Trevor...

Kelly: He started rough and missed some throws (badly) early on, but he bounced back and made some very impressive and accurate down field throws; while also showing off his running ability that we already knew he had. Overall, he had a decent day. But, in my mind, it was disappointing. As I'll mention with Trevor, Kelly doesn't have the "freshman jitters" excuse as Trevor does. With allegedly how well Kelly had been playing this Spring, I expected him to show off his improvements in the game. Yet, it seemed to me Kelly was inside his own head early on (it may just be me, but it seems like now that Kelly is under scrutiny he struggles when the lights are on). I really wanted Kelly to come out and shut down the QB competition, at least to the point to where he would get the majority of the snaps moving forward, but he didn't do that. His inconsistencies, slow throwing motion, mis-reads, "locking in on receivers", and downfield inaccuracy seem to still be problems; and now he doesn't have an excuse. I'm not giving up on Kelly yet, but it's a short leash. All I'm saying is, if Trevor is playing really well, DO NOT PUT KELLY BACK IN.

Trevor: Like I already mentioned, Trevor had his "first game jitters" moments early on, but he settled in and made some throws that just make you say "wow." That throw to Thompson on the sideline was absolutely an NFL type throw. Honestly, Trevor has so much "zip" on his throws that he may need to take off some velocity (ex. the throw that went through Tee's hands). Also, you can see how his throwing ability opens up the running game. Now, he still needs to build more trust with the coaches, develop consistency, and operate the zone-read effectively, but all of those things will come with more playing time (and will happen sooner, rather than later).

While I'm still maintaining that the A&M game will, ultimately, determine the QB race, I'm officially beginning to lean towards the "Starting Trevor" camp. I was on "Team Kelly" all off-season and I do love/support him, but it's hard to deny evidence and facts. I will say, I would love nothing more than for Kelly to come out at A&M and ball out; and take the QB race back over. Until then, a two QB system it is...


I'll spend a little less time here because I think we know what we have on defense.

DLine: Talent. Depth. Experience. Leadership. Athleticism. Speed. Power. On and on and on. I could continue to list adjectives, but I'll save the space. The Furman game did nothing to dethrone our DL's status as CFB's best. (Also, it looks like Wilkins is out to prove something this year...)

LB: Also, talent. Also, depth. Also, experience. Also, leadership. Also, athleticism. We're set at LB as well. Brent was rotating LBs early and often throughout the game, and we didn't seem to miss a beat. I think Simmons at SAM linebacker, while I initially questioned him, played very well. Re-watching the game, I think he was out of position on some plays (specifically a big pass play given up); but, for the most part, he was flying around and making tackles. With more game experience, he'll be fine.

Secondary: Instead of breaking it up into CBs and Safety, I'll speak to both. With Furman being a triple-option team, they obviously weren't tested very much. So, there's not much to glean from this game in terms of their coverage abilities. Although, three PIs is not a good look (I know some were worse than others...), I hope we don't develop the "PI disease" like some of BV's earlier defenses. I thought our CBs and Safety's run defense was outstanding for the most part though; Wallace and Mullen each had very physical stops at the LOS. Looking forward, I'll still be keeping an eye on Tanner Muse's coverage ability (was out of position again on his PI play) and our safety depth, but other than that, we're looking solid here.

**Side note: As I mentioned earlier, it appeared as though Furman was able to exploit the edges of our defense on some plays. Not sure what this was attributed to, but I hope the coaching staff recognized this and is correcting it for A&M; because you know A&M saw it too...


I didn't get to watch A&M's game against Northwestern State, but I watched highlights, checked the stats, and read articles; and, obviously, there's not much to glean from a game like that (the same can be said for Clemson's game against Furman too...). From A&M's perspective at least, they seem to be excited from what they saw of Kellen Mond's passing, the TE play, and Trayveon's running ability; which, for their fans, has them more excited.

In regards to how Clemson compares to A&M player-wise: On paper, we are top-to-bottom the better team. Across the board, at every position, we have the advantage in talent and, especially, experience. Now, A&M definitely does have talent through their recruiting, but they are still young (A&M will be one of the few teams on our regular season schedule who are somewhat comparable in terms of talent).

In regards to coaching, with Clemson, we once again bring back essentially all of our coaching staff. I like our coaching position comparatively. I think Jimbo and Mike Elko are both good-to-great coaches, but they are both first-year coaches and face the inevitable issues of installing new systems, new plays, and new philosophies. Not to mention our coaches are familiar with Jimbo and have had an advantage facing him in recent match ups with FSU (although, Jimbo is familiar with our coaches too...).

The one straight-up advantage A&M has in this game is home field advantage. Kyle Field is a very intimidating place to play and it is definitely to their advantage that they're playing us earlier in the year while our offense is still gaining its footing. Although, given our coaching and player experience, part of this advantage is voided.

Finally, the game itself: Early on, I expect our defense will have to hold A&M, and the crowd, at bay. As with Furman, and the game still being early on in the season, I wouldn't be shocked if our offense needs time to warm up. Although, I honestly wouldn't be shocked if we get up early either because they have such a young team and will be running on pure hype (similar to the Louisville and V-Tech games last year).

On defense, A&M will try to attack the edges (as Furman had some success with) and use misdirection to nullify our advantage in the trenches. Plus, Jimbo likes to use play-action to take advantage of over aggressiveness. So, our defense will have to be disciplined with their eyes and not break from their keys. With A&M running more of a spread, I think our D-Line will feast. Assuming they can't run the ball well or as often as Furman did, they will find themselves in more 3rd and longs; thus, more opportunities for sacks. A&M's ONLY HOPE on offense is to be able to run the ball effectively, Mond is not the type of QB to beat you purely with his arm. Although, Mond is an effective runner, so our LB's (specifically Simmons) will have to keep their eyes on Mond in passing situations.

On offense, A&M will run a tight box like Furman, and other teams, have run against us; especially if Kelly is in the game. Weirdly enough, from what I've read, Mike Elko runs a somewhat similar style defense to Venables. It's a 4-2-5, gap-style, up-field defense; with a versatile "Sam" type linebacker. So, our offense should somewhat know what to expect. Now, I have a feeling A&M will be more aggressive and blitz often in order to force Clemson into mistakes; knowing they're at a player disadvantage. Because, why would a team in A&M's position, playing at home, play a "safe" or "keep it all in front of you" defense? So, hopefully our O-Line and RBs can block well. It will be vital for Clemson to be able to run the ball well. Whether that comes from Kelly's zone-read capability or Trevor's natural ability to open up running lanes by the threat of passing, we need to pound the rock to settle our offense.

Ultimately, as I mentioned with our player and coaching advantages, there's no reason why we shouldn't win; and win big. Unless we start turning the ball over, committing dumb penalties, and/or busting to give up big plays, I can't find a way for A&M to win out-right. I think we SHOULD cover the -13.5 spread.

I will say this, Dabo...please, please, pretty please keep Trevor in the game if he is playing well and Kelly is playing poorly. OR, if Kelly is playing really well, keep him in the game. JUST PLAY THE HOT HAND. Don't let the two QB system effect any offensive rhythm! With that being said, in Dabo and our coaches I trust!

Score Predition: 31 - 13 Tigers

Go Tigers and God Bless,


Re: Furman Final Thoughts & A&M Preview (Long)

Posted: Sep 4, 2018, 1:54 PM

gee man, thanks so much for taking a step back to breathe.


Thx for your astute analyst

Posted: Sep 4, 2018, 1:58 PM

and time & thought applied! Score seems about right to me too.


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Re: Furman Final Thoughts & A&M Preview (Long)

Posted: Sep 4, 2018, 2:02 PM

Longest post of the year award. Just kidding I enjoyed reading. Thanks, Go Tigers !


Re: Furman Final Thoughts & A&M Preview (Long)

Posted: Sep 4, 2018, 2:16 PM

Nice work. Good read

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Re: Furman Final Thoughts & A&M Preview (Long)

Posted: Sep 4, 2018, 2:18 PM

Nice post. I would add, the area our D has had difficulty with in the past is in covering the TE. We have really missed Gallman's blocking ability. I love we fans have to look so hard for deficiencies in this team. Our depth at nearly every position is ridiculous.


Re: Furman Final Thoughts & A&M Preview (Long)

Posted: Sep 4, 2018, 2:37 PM

Good read, and a proper read on Kelly's "improvement".

I honestly have more on that which would show more reality on him from that game (and how he's actually not improved, actually the opposite), but many on here don't seem to want to look deep into it like I do and read stats and analysis I have been putting out there and flame me non-stop...so debating if I should show it.


Re: Furman Final Thoughts & A&M Preview (Long)

Posted: Sep 4, 2018, 2:42 PM


Hey, I know many on here will give you a hard time, but I'd love to read what you have to say about Kelly! You should do it!


Re: Furman Final Thoughts & A&M Preview (Long)

Posted: Sep 4, 2018, 2:54 PM

OK...hopefully I don't get flamed too bad for putting this assessment out there.

I decided to do up a comparison to his last year's performances against equal level competition. KB actually looks a tad regressed from last year, just doing an apples-to-apples stat comparison to the lowest tier FBS team (Kent State, who threw 5 times and played like a lowest tier FCS school) and the FCS team (Citadel) he played last year. Don't forget, he didn't play majority of either game. Kent State, he went out after the first drive of the 3rd quarter, played 8 drives...Citadel, they had Cooper in before half time, Kelly played 5 drives in that one. So playing time was about level splitting through 3 quarters vs Furman, which both him and Trevor played 5 drives each.

His QB RAT, QBR, and yards per pass were better in both of last year's games. In those, he had a 61 yard deep ball to Cain (from the CU 32 to the Kent St 21; pass without Cain’s run was 47 yards) and a 44 yard pass to Milan Richard in the Kent State game. Vs Citadel, he had a 53 yard TD pass plus a 22 yard pass to Cain then too. His deepest ball vs Furman was 40 yards. He also rushed better vs Kent State than he did vs Furman, not so much vs Citadel, but I'd have to look at the play calling to see if that had anything to do with it, but thinking it did seeing he only had 2 rush attempts credited in the game.

people keep saying Kelly "improved" on his deep ball, but as you see above, he was pretty much on par with his FCS level deep passing of last year, definitely not different enough to call it improved. FCS teams were not where his deep ball had an issue; never was, and still was no different facing FCS Furman. Why do people think he's improved? Because they are still comparing his performance to FBS #1 Alabama or FBS competition through the season, and not an apples-to-apples of what he played like vs FCS teams, which is what Furman is. He hit 2 in the Kent State game, first game of the year last year...his longest was longer than what he hit in the Furman game. SO not sure that really shows improvement, as much as it almost leans to regression.


Re: Furman Final Thoughts & A&M Preview (Long)

Posted: Sep 4, 2018, 4:32 PM

Great job researching all of that and putting it together. It's definitely interesting looking at the stats comparatively to see if Kelly improved relative to the competition. So, thank you for doing that!

I think, given the level of competition - and the play-calling, player rotation, etc. - that comes with playing an FCS type opponent (especially at the beginning of the year), it's always difficult to draw clear conclusions. Game plans, play-calling, and general player effort can end up looking very different given the competition.

For me, it's not as much the stats from the Furman game that gave me problems with Kelly's performance, it was what the stats couldn't really show that led me to doubt Kelly. Some of his in-completions were a result of just straight-up bad throws. Others were the result of his lack of ball velocity. Finally, others were the result of poor decision making. I don't care as much about in-completions if it's not truly the QB's fault (throwing out of bounds, WR drops, poor play calling, etc.).

What disappointed me the most about Kelly's performance was that he was still showing the same tendencies and struggles he had showed last year. Specifically, his slow release, poor throwing velocity, "locking in" on receivers, and just inconsistency throwing down field. I just wanted to see OBVIOUS improvement, and, if we're being honest, I didn't see any of the improvement our coaches were harping on all off-season. Two of his three best throws were: Tee making a great diving catch and Kendrick going up and plucking a jump ball out of the air; neither of those two throws were particularly amazing. Now, his throw to Amari (despite, staring him down the whole way) was great and his running TD was impressive too. So, all-in-all it wasn't all bad. Just not the overall improvement I wanted to see.


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