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The Tigers' inability to mount a quality drive

I told Winfield yesterday that the key to moving forward is just to start thinking/writing about Clemson and basketball season so that's what we're doing at FTRS. Moving on with our lives.

One thing I've noticed about the Clemson Tigers' offense all season is its inability to mount quality drives. Dabo relies on the big plays, special teams, and defense to move the ball down the field. His offense is relatively inept at stringing together 7-10 successful plays concluding in offensive points or what I'm dubbing a "quality drive". The point of offense is primarily to score but it's also meant to run the clock, keep the opposing offense off the field, control momentum, and essentially win the game. Let's look at all of GT and Clemson's drives and how they ended up:


The above data is a collective of both teams' I-A BCS + TCU data so I excluded MTSU and I-AA's from the information. I also excluded half/game ending kneel downs and returns for TD's (this equates to 128 Clemson offensive drives versus only 116 GT offensive drives). The point is to show GT's offense is demonstrably more efficient than Clemson's. GT takes 42.24% of all their drives to the end zone versus Clemson barely takes a quarter of their drives back for touchdowns. As I mentioned in an earlier Q/A about Clemson, Dabo likes to settle. Looking at the chart, we see Dabo settles for field goals 7.46% more of the time than CPJ. Now, let's break it down into more important information concerning momentum:


Clemson's favorite type of drive is called the three-'n'-out. The only thing that Clemson's offense compares favorably to GT's is in turnover percentage. They both turn the ball over around nineteen percent of their drives. Now, if you're a Clemson fan, you're probably shouting or maybe even spelling out loud, "Who cares about these fancy numbers? Clemson scores at the same rate as GT! Will Glover!" That's a good point, Clemson fan. Clemson has had 5 returns for touchdowns this season while GT has only had 2. Clemson has had 16 drives of 6 plays or less that covered 40+ yards or what I'd like to call slam dunks. GT has only had 14 similarly conditioned drives.

Now, I wanna revisit my original concept of "quality drives". If we were to take all of Clemson's drives of 7 or more plays, we'd have 39 total drives. Of those 39 drives, Clemson only scored touchdowns 9 times. They got bogged down when they actually had to mount a creative, productive drive. Georgia Tech has had 54 drives of 7 or more plays and has scored touchdowns 28 times. I'm not stating the obvious here, which is to play good, preventative defense and conservative special teams. What we need to do is merely accept the big play as part of Clemson's philosophy. Let 'em pray for kickoff return TD's and punt return TD's. If we can simply limit the normal Clemson offense like the Sakerlina Coots, we win. Special teams and goofy trick plays are Clemson's thing. Let 'em do it. We win on fundamentals and ball control.

Once again, please note I wrote this based on all games' data excluding Citadel, Jacksonville State, and MTSU - games in which outcome was never in jeopardy. Let me know your thoughts