Inside Clemson football: Tigers continue pace progression

Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney and Offensive Coordinator Chad Morris walk the sidelines in the second quarter.

Photo by Nathan Gray

Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney and Offensive Coordinator Chad Morris walk the sidelines in the second quarter.

It's a bye week, which means it's time for analysis and over-analysis from the last two games...and seeing just where the Tigers sit on the college football scene.

The offense could clearly be better - losing Charone Peake notwithstanding - and a lot better.

Oregon is the model for the Clemson offense at its best, and boy, have they had a start.

They are running a play every 17 seconds on the game clock with 8.5 touchdown drives a game per ESPN. In total offense, the Ducks are second nationally averaging 664.5 yards per game.

How do the Tigers compare? Well, the pace has certainly picked up each season under Chad Morris.

In 2011's first two contests, they averaged 23.3 seconds between plays. 2012 and this season featured about a game and a half with the starters in and in that time - the Tigers improved the seconds per play to 21.05 (2012) then 19.9 (2013).

In touchdown drives per game, Clemson is hitting an even five per with five each versus Georgia and S.C. State.

Currently, the Tigers would need to increase their total yards a game by 92 per to crack the top-10 nationally again (581.5,, really), but that average should go down as the season goes on.

Category '13 Clemson '12 Clemson '11 Clemson
Scoring Offense 45 PPG 39 PPG 39 PPG
Total Yards 489.5 YPG 527 YPG 472 YPG
Cmp. Pct. (Tajh Boyd) 60.4 75.4 64.4
Yards Per Pass (Tajh Boyd) 8.3 7.7 8.9
Passing Efficiency 148.63 159.49 169.32
Plays per game 85.5 85.5 73.5
Explosive plays per game 9.5 10 10.5
3rd Down Pct. 51 57.14 43.3
Yards Per Carry 4.2 5.2 5.2

Tigers' red zone efficiency: Clemson finished atop the NCAA in red zone offense last season and has scored on 8-of-9 opportunities in '13.

In red zone touchdown percentage, the Tigers fall at No. 30 (77.8), while eight teams have converted for six each time (min. 4 attempts).

Michigan has posted an impressive 10 touchdowns in 11 chances and Oregon State 10-in-12. Clemson is tied for 16th in red zone touchdowns (7) and have posted the seventh-most against a ranked opponent (3).

On the flipside, Clemson is 98th in opponent red zone TD percentage (80 percent), which all came against Georgia (Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall are pretty good).

Football Outsiders not sure what to do with Clemson: If you've hung with us long enough, you're familiar with FEI, F/+ and the like from our friends at Football Outsiders. Basically, it's a statistical look at the efficiency of the three phases of the college game - and it's a little early to go to that measure right now.

A lot of their data relies on FBS versus FBS matchups, which Clemson has had only one of so far and everybody else a max of two.

Their current top-five is: Alabama (.311), Oregon (.295), Stanford (.284), LSU (.262) and Florida State (.229).

On the strength of two BCS v. BCS games so far, Georgia is 7th (.223), and Clemson is No. 12 (.207).

By their statistical models, the Tigers are playing the 63rd ranked schedule and are projected 7.2 more FBS wins (10-2 record). FSU is projected 8.4 more FBS wins, which leans towards a 10-2 season as well. The outlet picked FSU to win the ACC preseason and seven conference wins for both the Tigers and 'Noles. It should be fun to track as Clemson gets into the thick of the conference schedule...and especially the week of Oct. 19.

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