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Tuesday Thoughts 9/6: Deja Vu

In which we talk whiteboards, tennis, and feeling like we’ve done this all before.

NCAA Football: Clemson at Georgia Tech Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Welp, welcome to 2022.

Game Recap in Three Sentences

It was a muddy slogfest for much of the first half as both offenses couldn’t get much traction.

Two blocked punts led to 14 Clemson points and for a while that was the difference.

27 straight Clemson points starting late in the third sealed the deal.

#404 Swag Champion of the Game

Ace Eley, for giving us this fantastic moment:

ATLeast We Ain’t Them of the Week

I’m reaching back to Week 0 for this one because it’s incredible. Florida Memorial lost to Southern 86-0. That’s not a score I ever expected to see in modern college football. The FMU Lions earned just 92 offensive yards while the Jaguars totaled up 612. To add insult to injury, Southern racked up 16 penalties for 135 yards. Gotta feel bad when your offense gains less yards than the opposing team gets penalized for.

Above The Line of the Week

  • Chip Long - the results may not have always been pretty, but the offensive play-calling was noticeably improved from the last few years.
  • The US Open - seriously, the matches this year have been absolutely fantastic. If you haven’t been watching, start now; there are some awesome matchups still to come and we’re going to see a first time Slam winner crowned.
  • EJ Jenkins - turns out having a huge red zone threat is very helpful in the red zone!

Stat of the Week

45. The number of total yards we gained on all drives after our lone touchdown brought it to a 10-14 game. Right as we got within striking distance and had some momentum, our next six drives were of 7, 6, 27, 0, 3, and 2 yards. Meanwhile Clemson scored on five of their next six to end the game on a 27-0 run.

5 Star (7 Star, 5 Star) Developmental Program Haiku of the Week

Muddy game early
Blowout in the fourth quarter
Signs of life maybe

Deja Vu

We’ve been here before.

Competitive for about 40 minutes, outmatched in the other 20. Huge special teams fiascos. Burning timeouts early in the half. Double digit penalties. Allowing opponents to rattle off multiple scores in a row. At least one turnover (and several other close calls). Long offensive scoring droughts measured in quarters.

For the last couple years we’ve been playing the same game over and over again, it’s just the opponent that changes. In a sport built on chaos and entropy our predictability should be cosmically impossible. But week in and week out it’s like Groundhog Day. Sure there were some improvements (play-calling looked better, Sims looked better, the defense looked better for a while), but the core experience was essentially unchanged. I think I could quite literally copy and paste what I wrote about a game last year and just change the team name to “Clemson” and no one would know the difference. Here’s a helpful bingo chart we can use for the rest of the year with all the hallmarks of a GT football game:

But whatever I guess; I’m not going to overreact to Week 1 and say we’re doomed. Clemson is still a very good team with an exceptional defense (#1 in the country according to SP+). But that’s a game that we should easily be able to cover a 24 point spread in. Certainly no one expected us to win, but at this point in our development we should be keeping a game like that within two scores. I’m willing to delay most judgment on the offense given how good Clemson is on defense (especially the DL), but the defense and special teams really let us down.

Still, I’m content to wait until the Ole Miss game to really make any determinations about this team. I’m not gonna get mad about losing to a really good team in a bad matchup, just like I’m not going to get super jazzed about a (hopeful) blowout of WCU. I’ve seen nothing so far to sway me from my 4-8 prediction.

Look Ahead

Up next is WCU, famed alma mater of Paul Johnson. This should be an easy win for us. I’m looking to see us get into an offensive rhythm during this game - we need to really figure things out before we go up against Ole Miss. Tighten up all the screws, tie down the loose ends, and get right before the next real test.