2014 Forecast: Clemson offense evolution toes line of reloading, regressing

Clemson football - Mike Williams (7) celebrates with D.J. Howard after his 75-yard touchdown in the first quarter

Photo by Mark Crammer

Clemson football - Mike Williams (7) celebrates with D.J. Howard after his 75-yard touchdown in the first quarter

So, what’s next?

By now, you know who’s not around any more. And like us, you’re wondering what to expect from the next Tigers up.

Before we get into that, here’s the three-year trend under Chad Morris

Chad Morris offense profile (2011-13 averages)

2011: (14 games): 75 plays – 34 PPG – 440.8 YPG (5.9 YPP) – 158.5 RYPG (4.2 YPC) – 282.3 PYPG (7.5 YPP)

2012 (13 games): 82 plays – 41 PPG – 512.7 YPG (6.3 YPP) – 191.5 RYPG (4.2 YPC) – 321.2 PYPG (8.8 YPP)

2013 (13 games): 80 plays – 40.2 PPG – 507.7 YPG (6.4 YPP) – 174.6 RYPG (4.2 YPC) – 333.1 PYPG (8.8 YPP)

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Clemson has produced a top-10 scoring and total offense each of the last two seasons, totaling 131 touchdowns (5 per game) and 13,265 yards (510.2 per game).

The passing figures have increased each season under Tajh Boyd’s leadership, while the running game has been consistent in impact (4.2 yards per carry each year) and fluctuating in frequency (anywhere from 38 to 45 carries a game).

In the wake of DeAndre Hopkins and Andre Ellington’s exits pre-’13, the offense was fueled by breakout seasons from Sammy Watkins and Martavis Bryant and a workmanlike steadiness from senior running back Rod McDowell.

During the player projections, I’ve hinted to the expectations in terms of playcalling and impact this season, but in summary…

1) Balanced passing game built on short-to-intermediate throws: Morris has a number in mind usually when it comes to deep shots per game, but I’m figuring that’s a bit lower transitioning out of the Boyd era. Cole Stoudt hasn’t had many opportunities to show off his arm, but he’s proven to be accurate and spread the ball around. Clemson’s strength will be more in numbers than any one star among the receivers.

2) A consistent running game: I know, I know – it’s the “have to see it to believe it” element of the projection, but I’m buying what Morris is selling on a commitment to the run. With the key losses in pass-game and options aplenty at tailback, the question is if a rebuilt-but-experienced o-line opens the lanes to ground-and-pound opponents. Last year, Morris shied away from giving them much of a chance to establish the run.

3) Less yards, increased efficiency: For all that the Tiger offense did well last season, they were 35th in third down conversions (44.7 percent) and 27th in points per trip inside the 40 (4.7). I don’t see another 500 yards per game effort, but with a better run effort, they should be a little less erratic moving the chains and finishing off drives.

Brandon Rink – OrangeandWhite.com

2014 Outlook (12 games): 960 plays (80 PlaPG) – 5,880 TY (490 YPG) – 43 PPG

Rushing: 2,520 RY – 210 YPG – 30 TDs; Leaders – D.J. Howard – 112-595-6, Zac Brooks 83-420-5.

Passing: 3,360 PY – 280 YPG – 35 TDs; Leader – Cole Stoudt – 69%-3,144-30-8.

Receiving leaders: Adam Humphries – 60-720-4; Mike Williams – 45-670-10.

Marty Coleman – SeldomUsedReserve.com

Last year I underestimated the Clemson offense (or gave ACC defenses too much credit) and Chad Morris. I believed the loss of Nuk Hopkins and Andre Ellington would slow the Chad Morris juggernaut down. By and large I was wrong as the Tigers approached 508 yards per game.

Problem is, I feel the same way this year with the loss of Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins. Perhaps it's the eternal pessimist in me…

My working hypothesis is that the Tigers rely on the "smash mouth" portion of Morris' Smash Mouth Spread slightly more this season after being fairly balanced in rushing the ball 53% of the time (including sacks) and throwing 47% of the time in Morris' first 3 seasons.

More running means less plays, less yards and less yards per play. I don't expect a monumental shift, but rather a small, subtle one.

The second part of that hypothesis is that while the Tigers were able to withstand the loss of Hopkins and Ellington, the loss of Boyd and Watkins is greater…

The Tiger offense will be good, but I don't expect it to be 508 yards per game good.

2014 Outlook (12 games): 912 plays (76) – 5,542 TY (461.8 per game) – 38 PPG

Rushing – 2,172 yards – 181 YPG – 24 TD; Leaders – Howard 125-546-3, C.J. Davidson 88-405-7.

Passing – 3,370 yards (280.8 per game), 33 TD; Leader – Stoudt – 70.8%-2,848-29-7.

Receiving leaders: Humphries – 69-814-8; Williams 42-777-6.

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Comments » 9

CstandsforCowtown writes:

You can't realistically expect Stoudt to put up Boyd's numbers this year. A lot of new faces on offense.

BrandonRink writes:

in response to CstandsforCowtown:

You can't realistically expect Stoudt to put up Boyd's numbers this year. A lot of new faces on offense.

Yeah, that's a high bar that neither me or Marty having him coming close to Boyd's averages. Mine's a little closer to Boyd's sophomore season, but not quite there.

33dtb writes:

"short to intermediate passes" and "trying to run" both speak to our "every year newly fixed" O-Line situation, no ???

TigerFan95 writes:

Our offense won't be quite as explosive this year, but it will still be very potent. Everything depends on our O-line. If the big guys do their job up front we'll be just fine.

33dtb writes:

someone commented that when 'Bama's O-Line goes into their stances,every backside is 3 feet across...

KIMOSAMI (Inactive) writes:

Jesse Palmer is headed to "The View".....

.................as a member of the panel.

clemvol writes:

Steady as she goes, just move the chains then score. It's all the offense you'll ever need.

fasttiger44#293363 writes:

in response to clemvol:

Steady as she goes, just move the chains then score. It's all the offense you'll ever need.

I agree with you all the way. I made a comment the other day about our offense and said it may take us 5 or 6 more plays to score than it did last year but we will still score. There may not be any passes caught 4 yards behind the line of scrimmage and 75 yards later someone standing in the end zone. We will still have a good offense that will score plenty of points just not as quickly as last year.

TigerNE writes:

Not sure how much more "smash mouth" we can be than the past few years if Howard and Davidson are your projected top two runners. Gallman and especially Fleming are the two who could really fit that bill. Fleming may still be too raw just yet. But by the the start of the season maybe he gets more skilled.

Howard, Davidson and even Brooks will be able to pull down some yards for sure, but they aren't the guys to push the sticks on 3rd or 4th and short with brute force.

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