The Jackets went to Clemson this past Saturday and held a 31-30 lead with 13 minutes left in the game. Identical to the two weeks prior...the inability to make stops in the 4th quarter and boneheaded plays doomed Tech to its 3rd straight loss and a 2-4 record (Wow - that's tough to wrap my head around) heading into the bye week. I think the next 2 weeks will be filled, unfortunately, with distractions and ultimatums. Jacket Nation is hurting, and want to see some better results. I'll take you into some statistical numbers that hopefully demonstrate what's working, and lately what isn't.
The 47-31 result continues a disturbing trend of defensive ineptitude, at least from a statistical standpoint, that has seen the Jackets' defense allow over 1,700 yards and 138 points over the last 3 games. To Tech's credit, the effort level was there on all units. The defense managed to put pressure on Tajh Boyd (3 sacks, 3 hurries, 4 passes broken up, and 2 INTs) and make some big plays...but nowhere close to slowing down Clemson. I have to credit Shawn Green for coming up with the defensive play of the day, lurking next to the screen man, and picking a pass cleanly and "rumbling" for 17 yards.
The most obvious defensive stat plaguing the Jackets is allowing 3rd down conversions. In the last 3 games, Tech as allowed the opposition to convert 31-46 3rd downs (67%)...many of which were 3rd and longs (as Joey mentioned yesterday). For comparison, the median conversion rate allowed in FBS is about 37%. To put this into context...imagine the other team gets 20 attempts at third down. Where the median defense allows only 7 out of 20 conversions...Tech is allowing its opponents in the last 3 games to convert 14 times out of 20. Alowing 7 extra 1st downs above the average is pretty damaging against anyone, let alone a fast-paced team like Clemson. Tajh Boyd accounted for 476 yards of offense in a cereer day, and DeAndre Hopkins burned the Tech secondary for 7 catches, 173 yards, and 2 TDs.
Figuring out why is the bigger question. In previous games there wasn't a pass rush and bad tackling...those were much improved against Clemson. Could it be the defensive play-calling is becoming predictable on 3rd down? When CAG blitzed the corner, Boyd lobbed it from where the blitz came and found an open receiver several times. When he only rushed 3, the lack of pressure doesn't do any coverage favors. For its part...the defense actually held its own in rushing defense. Although the last drive saw Tajh Boyd sneak his way to several big gains that finally brought Clemson up to 4.0 yards/rush.
The offense wasn't flawless, but pretty potent on Saturday as it racked up 31 points and 483 yards. After a stymied first drive, CPJ made the inexplicable decision to go for it on 4th-and-1 from our own 40. Punt coverage has actually been the strongest Special Teams unit this year. Nonetheless, Tevin ran it up behind Omoregie Uzzi and the extra pressure brought by Clemson turned him away. Walking off the field CPJ looked visibly upset with Tevin, as if he made the wrong audible (sound familiar)...but this 4th down should have never have been attempted. Knowing Clemson was cheating their CBs in on the first drive, CPJ set Tevin loose on the 2nd drive hitting Anthony Autry, Darren Waller, and finally Jeff Greene for a TD on a quick 4-play drive.
Tevin would go on to have a monster day...16 rushes, 107 yards, 2 TDs rushing (leading the nation in this category). He threw for 9-14, 144 yards, and 1 TD. Orwin Smith also had an explosive day...7 rushes for 122 yards and a 32-yard catch. Robbie Godhigh had 4 rushes for 62 yards, including a Barry Sanders-esque reverse of direction to the right, after Clemson had nearly stopped him on the pitch left, for 25 yards.
The problem isn't our athletes...we have athletes. Even our walk-ons are athletes.
My only issue with the offense (and special teams) was that we left points on the board. The fumbled snap (by backup center Catlin Alford) on 4th-and-1 deep in Clemson territory was potentially 7 points. Missed blocking assignments deep in our own end in the 4th quarter led to the safety, as Ray Beno went inside the read man and his assignment shot outside and tackled Orwin Smith for a safety. 2 missed FGs by David Scully (1 low shank, 1 blocked) took another potential 6 points off the board, and the last FG could have had us within 1 score with about 4 minutes left.
Chris Milton had the Special Teams highlight...and lowlight...of the day. The highlight was coming up with a huge tackle on punt coverage that stopped Clemson's Adam Humphries in his tracks for a -1 yard return. The lowlight was unfortunately another misplayed kickoff return that saw Milton misplay a one-hopper and slip to his knee, at the 1, while trying to pick the ball up.
The final analysis...valiant effort but too many missed plays, especially on defense. Tech heads into a bye week with lots of issues to address prior to our next matchup with Boston College on October 20 on the Flats. What would you as Jacket fans prescribe to cure the ills of this current season?