Keeping Pace: Clemson offense has set the bar high for 2013 run

Tajh Boyd and offensive coordinator Chad Morris

Photo by Mark Crammer

Tajh Boyd and offensive coordinator Chad Morris

Last year, Clemson’s offense made the leap from the top-30 to the top-10 in total and scoring offense nationally, and with All-American candidates at QB (Tajh Boyd) and receiver ( Sammy Watkins) – the expectations are high once again.

Last year, though, won’t be easy to top. Chad Morris does have a couple cards up the sleeve on improving the speed of the attack, but the question, losing the steady DeAndre Hopkins and more, is if the production goes up with it.

The year-to-year improvement under Morris…

2011 Passing Offense (14 games): 525 attempts/3,952 yards/7.5 yards per attempt/33 TDs-12 INTs

2012 Passing Offense (13 games): 474 attempts/4,181 yards/8.8 yards per attempt/40 TDs-14 INTs

Notice the jump in yards per attempt. Clemson did more with less pass attempts per game and threw for seven more scores in one less game in 2012.

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2011 Rushing Offense (14 games): 530 carries/2,219 yards/4.2 yards per carry/22 TDs/65 10+ runs

2012 Rushing Offense (13 games): 588 carries/2,484 yards/4.2 yards per carry/26 TDs/84 10+ runs

The volume of carries is the key takeaway here, as the Tigers ran it about seven more times a game last season and that paid off in 19 more runs of 10-plus yards.

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2011 Total Offense (averages): 75 plays/441 yards/5.8 yards per play/34 points per game

2012 Total Offense (averages): 82 plays/513 yards/6.3 yards per play/41 points per game

Morris hit his 80-plays-a-game goal and more and in turn the points came with it thanks to the nation's top red zone offense last season.

We’ve looked at this side of the ball one by one so far in our "2013 Forecast" series and here’s the final total projections.

Passing (14 games)

Passing Offense Projection: 520 attempts/4,350 passing yards (311 per game)/8.37 yards per attempt/40 TDs

QB Projection: Tajh Boyd – 468 attempts/66.5 cmp%/4,100 PY (293 per game)/8.76 YPA/35 TDs/10 INT

WR Projections: Sammy Watkins – 90 catches/1,350 yards/14 TDs; Charone Peake – 44 catches/616 yards/9 TDs; Adam Humphries – 45 catches/540 yards/2 TDs; Martavis Bryant – 28 catches/504 yards/6 TDs; Germone Hopper – 30 catches/375 yards/1 TD; Mike Williams – 11 catches/176 yards/1 TD.

TE Projections: Jordan Leggett – 18 catches/218 yards/3 TDs; Stanton Seckinger – 16 catches/152 yards/3 TDs; Jay Jay McCullough – 6 catches/65 yards/1 TD.

Rushing (14 games)

Rushing Offense Projection: 610 attempts/2,820 yards (201 per game)/4.6 yards per carry/25 TDs

QB Projection: Tajh Boyd – 180 carries/610 yards/9 TDs.

RB Projections: Rod McDowell – 210 carries/1,029 yards/10 TDs; D.J. Howard – 80 carries/416 yards/3 TDs; Zac Brooks – 72 carries/405 yards/2 TDs; Tyshon Dye – 24 carries/120 yards/1 TD; Wayne Gallman – 14 carries/63 yards.

Total Offense (14 games)

Total Offense Projection (average): 81 plays/512 YPG/6.3 yards per play/65 TDs/38 PPG

Summary

1. Rushing offense continues upward trend – Last year, Clemson improved its rushing yards by almost 33 per game – much thanks to Boyd’s increased dual-threat. Losing Andre Ellington, the natural inclination is some struggles here, but that doesn’t really fall in line with Morris’ philosophy. He likes to run the ball and he’s been working on his o-line to get the offense where he can run a bunch. They can easily be a top-25 or top-30 rushing offense in 2013.

2. Passing offense down a bit – Boyd connected with DeAndre Hopkins downfield for 24 passes of 20-plus yards last season. Armed with Hopkins on one side and Sammy Watkins the majority of the season on the other, Boyd led the nation in 25-plus yard completions (48). As ESPN pointed out here last week, “Nuk” was very much the third-down (22 receptions versus 14 for Watkins) and fourth-quarter (18 receptions versus five for Watkins) option for the Clemson QB in 2012. His absence – combined with the running game trending up – leads to slightly lower averages across the board passing.

3. More balanced attack cracks top-10 nationally again – Averaging almost 513 yards a game last season, Clemson had an over 10 yards per game gap between their ninth-best rank in total offense and West Virginia in 10th (502). The Tigers did so with the No. 13 passing ‘O’ (321.6) and No. 36 rushing ‘O’ (191.08). Clemson should be right around those numbers facing a schedule that should be easier with two FCS programs and again a likely favorite in a double-digit number of games.

Clemson Offense Projections – Marty Coleman, Seldom Used Reserve

Chad Morris, Tajh Boyd and the Clemson offense have set the bar impossibly high in two short years in Tiger Town.

The 2013 version of the Clemson offense will be very good, perhaps even top 10ish good. However, replacing Hopkins, Ellington and Freeman leads me to believe this group takes an ever so slight step back in terms of numbers.

The real question comes with the red zone (5.69 points per possession in 2012) and short yardage efficiency (24 of 28 on 3rd and 1, including goal to go) that the 2012 team showed.

Can this group duplicate or improve upon those numbers? Check out more of Coleman's analysis here.

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Comments » 2

TigerFan95 writes:

Brandon, I believe the best way for our offense to improve on last year’s stats will be for our defense to perform better by getting more three-and-out stops. I’d like to see a stat on how many three & outs our defense made last year and where they ranked in the nation in that category. Imagine the numbers Chad Morris’ offense could put up if this year’s defense is able to get them one or two more series per game by slightly increasing the number of three & outs they make.

BrandonRink writes:

in response to TigerFan95:

Brandon, I believe the best way for our offense to improve on last year’s stats will be for our defense to perform better by getting more three-and-out stops. I’d like to see a stat on how many three & outs our defense made last year and where they ranked in the nation in that category. Imagine the numbers Chad Morris’ offense could put up if this year’s defense is able to get them one or two more series per game by slightly increasing the number of three & outs they make.

That is definitely a factor and should give the Tigers some extra opportunities. I'll look into it.

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