Clemson passing game had remarkable balance

The Clemson Sports Blog

DeAndre Hopkins

Photo by Mark Crammer

DeAndre Hopkins

Clemson’s ability to speed-up the tempo clearly hurt LSU late, as referenced here, but how the Tigers use the field may be the key to their success.

Seldom Used Reserve has kept track of Tajh Boyd’s throws by area of the field and distance this season, where the balance of side-to-side and short-to-long throws is remarkable.

The junior signal-caller fired exactly 170 passes to the left and right sides of the field (making up 39.8 percent of his throws each), averaging just under nine yards per pass to either side. Adding to the Nuk Hopkins-Boyd mystique, Hopkins was targeted over 50 times to left and right each.

In touchdowns and picks, Boyd connected for 13 touchdowns and four interceptions to the left, and 14 touchdowns and four interceptions to the right.

And up the middle, he had his highest yards per pass average (10) and touchdown rate per attempt (10.3).

In length, Clemson attempted 48.5 percent of its passes from behind of the line scrimmage to five yards with its starter, averaging 6.2 yards per play, with nine touchdowns to one interception. All totaled, the short passes amounted to 1,240 yards.

In throws of 20-plus yards, Boyd compiled 1,287 yards, with 15 touchdowns and six interceptions, completing a solid 50.7 percent (34-67) at 19.2 per attempt.

Runnin’ plays and going fast

Clemson ran 100 plays or more in two of its last three games, but it was surprising to say the least on LSU.

Maybe it shouldn’t have been.

Texas A&M, coming from ahead to lose at home 24-19 to LSU earlier this season, ran 94 plays sporting their version of the spread with Johnny (Football) Manziel. The difference? The Aggies averaged just 4.9 per pass attempt, while Clemson hit 6.9 per.

Bayou Bengal opponents averaged 77.3 plays in their final six games, after allowing 62.2 per in the first six with some weaker competition mixed in.

* LSU had two drives of 50-plus yards, both touchdowns, and two scoring drives of two plays or less and also scored twice off of Clemson turnovers.

The rest? The ACC Tigers bottled-up nicely.

On drives longer than two plays, Clemson held LSU to 2.95 yards per, with three of them in negative territory.

* In a scoreless-drive stretch from the 5:43 mark of the second quarter to the 14:52 mark of the fourth, Clemson was stifled to 2.3 yards per play (30 for 69 yards), but ran one of its fastest scoring drives of the season (in game-time) to close the game.

To end the drought, the Tigers went 63 yards in 5:26, at 25.1 seconds per play.

To draw within two points, they cut it to 23.7 seconds per play.

But for the game-winner taking over with 1:39 left, Clemson hit 9.9 seconds per play, with use of timeouts and LSU injuries aplenty helping out.

Stats To Win

The stats we’ve tracked all season (70 percent or better winning percentage with the edge) – reflect just how close it was in the Georgia Dome Monday.

We already noted Clemson held the advantage in the top category, yards per pass, but they also had the edge in total yards (445-219) and rush attempts (50-25).

LSU won three categories as well, in yards per rush (4.0-2.0), yards per play (4.6-4.4) and the turnover margin (1-2).

The tiebreaker could very well have been the tie – LSU not racking up the rushing yardage totals some of the better running teams had against Clemson, falling short of triple-digits like the other Tigers at 99 yards. It’s also a category where sacks factor in, and the Bayou Bengals lost 41 yards of field position on six sacks.

Noted in part two of the LSU/Clemson breakdown an improved Tigers’ pass rush, with 3.5 sacks per game in their final six, and the Chick-fil-A Bowl bumped that to 3.9 past midseason.

Defensive end Malliciah Goodman ended ’12 on a tear, with five sacks in the final three games – after going the first half of the season without one.

Category Clemson LSU
Yards Per Pass 6.9 5.2
Yards Per Play 4.4 4.6
Total Yards 445 219
Rushing Yards 99 99
Yards Per Carry 2 4
Rushes Per Game 50 25
Turnovers 2 1

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Comments » 8

TigerNE writes:

I still say Morris needs to work on scoring efficiency. All those yards are meaningless, and especially the imbalance of yards gained, if you had lost by 2 instead of winning by 1. Don't get me wrong, I'm excited about the win and give all the credit in the world to the team on BOTH sides of the ball. But, since most of that offensive talent will likely be back next season with new additions, working on scoring efficiency is a good area for improvement.

BrandonRink writes:

in response to TigerNE:

I still say Morris needs to work on scoring efficiency. All those yards are meaningless, and especially the imbalance of yards gained, if you had lost by 2 instead of winning by 1. Don't get me wrong, I'm excited about the win and give all the credit in the world to the team on BOTH sides of the ball. But, since most of that offensive talent will likely be back next season with new additions, working on scoring efficiency is a good area for improvement.

I guess I'd have to ask - scoring efficiency related to what standard?

Clemson was one of only six teams in the regular season to reach the red zone 50 times and score touchdowns 75 percent or better (overall scoring 94 percent, 2nd best nationally).

Bill61 writes:

in response to TigerNE:

I still say Morris needs to work on scoring efficiency. All those yards are meaningless, and especially the imbalance of yards gained, if you had lost by 2 instead of winning by 1. Don't get me wrong, I'm excited about the win and give all the credit in the world to the team on BOTH sides of the ball. But, since most of that offensive talent will likely be back next season with new additions, working on scoring efficiency is a good area for improvement.

I can't believe I just read this ignorant comment. Please check your Tiger stats before you make another fool out of yourself.

PtownDawg writes:

TigerNE....when you meet the most beautiful woman in the world will you ask her why her eyes appear slightly closer to her nose than you think they should? Stop trying to give advice to Morris...where did you get your experience and wisdom? Cracker-Jacks?

TigerNE writes:

in response to BrandonRink:

I guess I'd have to ask - scoring efficiency related to what standard?

Clemson was one of only six teams in the regular season to reach the red zone 50 times and score touchdowns 75 percent or better (overall scoring 94 percent, 2nd best nationally).

Brandon, my point was that the ability to gain yards, especially long yards, is well established. Coaches always look for efficiency, and not just in the red zone (in which we are stellar). Getting to the red zone is key, too.
Examples (these come from calcs used for betting):
Clemson gets 0.50 pts/play and 0.80 pts/yd
Bama gets 0.61 pts/play and 0.88 pts/yd
Stanford gets 0.60 pts/play and 0.88 pts/yd

Even FSU gets 0.58 pts/play and 0.83 pts/yd, and they were far from a 'stellar' offense this year, overall.

On the lower side:
WI gets 0.45 pts/play and 0.75 pts/yd
SCar gets 0.48 pts/play but 0.84 pts/yd

So, my comment was not intended to suggest we are bad. It is simply an area for improvement that pays off by requiring fewer plays to win. The highlight of the downside was the bowl game. It took twice the plays to win by 1. Even if you added 50 yards to the giveaway first 7 points for LSU, it still took over 100 yards more to win by 1. That's all I'm saying.

And to Bill61 and PtownDawg, I'll be happy to use fewer numbers and smaller words if it helps you to grasp it!!

BrandonRink writes:

Interesting numbers, I see what you're getting at now.

Bama/Stanford were certainly making the most of their plays in the pro-style setup.

Oregon would be more of the model to look at in Clemson's case - using that calc, they'd be at .58 pts/play and 610 pts/6,986 yards (.087) to Clemson's 533 points/6,665 yards (.080).

TigerNE writes:

in response to BrandonRink:

Interesting numbers, I see what you're getting at now.

Bama/Stanford were certainly making the most of their plays in the pro-style setup.

Oregon would be more of the model to look at in Clemson's case - using that calc, they'd be at .58 pts/play and 610 pts/6,986 yards (.087) to Clemson's 533 points/6,665 yards (.080).

And for what it's worth, this year Clemson significantly improved over last year (0.45 pts/play and 0.076 pts/yd). So, maybe the trend continues. That along with a significant win over LSU may mean the oddsmakers and people betting could be a little more favorable to us next year.

Another effective offense would be Ohio State with 0.53 pts/play and 0.088 pts/yd. And a really inefficient offense this year would be ND with 0.38 pts/play and 0.063 pts/yd. That is one factor of a few that have Bama favored by 9.5 or double digits in many books. So, Clemson is still respectable with room to continue to improve.

BigBud52 writes:

All these numbers are crap if you don't have a "D". The game was won against LSU because the defense finally played great football.

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