Clemson Tiger 2010 Defense: Still Work to Do On Solving Misdirection
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The scoreboard looked fine, and the offense (especially on the ground) did also. However, there were some disturbing trends with other statistics taken from Saturday's Tigers win over North Texas in Death Valley. A week into the 2010 season, there's still much progress to be made.
North Texas managed 462 yards of total offense against the Tigers, and ran 83 plays from scrimmage, very similar numbers to the 469 yards and 83 plays posted by the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in last year's ACC Championship Game. The Mean Green weren't as effective at putting the ball in the end zone as Paul Johnson's triple option team was in November, otherwise the result in the opener might have been different.
The problem might possibly be over-pursuit. South Carolina shredded the Tigers last November with their zone read runs, allowing the blitz or coverage to develop and simply going the other way. That's the way to succeed when a team's defensive front has no problem beating an offensive line, which was the case again on Saturday.
The same can be said of the meetings with Georgia Tech in 2009. The aggression of the defensive line, especially the ends, left holes wide open against the option, where slow-to-develop plays turned into big gains, and eventually Clemson defeats.
In the first game against Tech in 2009, Kevin Steele's defense found success early in the second half with a simple scheme. He had his tackles stay at home on the snap and deny the quarterback dive. The ends simply stepped back and out. The linebackers didn't blitz but instead moved laterally to sniff out the quarterback and denied the pitch. Nothing fancy, but for a half it worked wonders.
Against North Texas, there were no issues with the Tiger defense getting into the backfield. Clemson recorded five sacks and a total of 12 tackles for a loss. The defensive line has the potential to be great once again, but adjustments will have to be made to deal with misdirection and slow developing running plays.
Or maybe the Tigers just scored too quickly when they had the ball...
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