1. Everyone makes a point about Chad Morris's offense being uptempo and the new playmakers, but is that all there is to the change? In your opinion what are some of the factors in the transformation that are being overlooked?
Chili: The change in the offense has really been pretty thoroughly discussed. What isn’t covered as much is the effect this offensive success has on the defense and therefore the team as a whole. The offense is higher tempo, but even though they are more upbeat than last year they still manage to stay on the field longer than last year’s version, freeing up the defense a little. Last year our defense was outstanding but got really worn down because the offense could never give them any time to rest. There is a much greater balance this year, it seems.
2. Clemson is still allowing a decent amount of yardage per game. Is the defense not as strong as past years or if the uptempo pace impacting the defensive stats?
Chili: There’s been a slight defensive dropoff with the loss of Da’Quan Bowers and some other key players. Clemson is a very young team across the board, and it is taking the youngsters on the defensive side of the ball longer to adjust to the pace than it is for the offensive guys. The defense has given up some big “chunk” plays, but has been remarkable in the second half of games this year, allowing only one touchdown in the second half so far this season.
3. From the outside Dabo always seemed goofy and in over his head to me. You memorably mocked him on the blog. Now he's got the college football world by the tail. Is he an overlooked genius that is finally getting his due or was he just saved by a good OC hire? Where is Dabo in three years? If Chad Morris gets a head job next year, is Dabo back on the hot seat?
Chili: Dabo is an extremely emotional coach. When he’s losing, it’s easy to paint him as an excitable simpleton with more emotion and slogans than solutions. When he’s winning, it’s easy to see him as a fiery competitor who was smart enough to make the right hires around him to keep his job. Dabo was one of the best recruiters at Clemson and was many players’ favorite position coach, so he’s got some skill at coaching. I don’t think any of us have enough info on Swinney to make a real assessment of his skillset just yet, but it was his decision to hire Morris while many people (myself included) thought it crazy that he wouldn’t even interview Ralph Friedgen. Credit is due there, for sure. I think Clemson will lock in Morris for at least another year or so, but he’ll be gone eventually. I look at what happened to Clemson under Tommy Bowden after Rich Rodriguez left and hope that Clemson learns from that period of dropoff. With the way this season is going and how recruiting continues to roll along, I think Dabo probably bought himself some time off the hot seat.
4. What is your prediction for the game?
Chili: I think Clemson should win this one going away. 40-21 or somewhere thereabouts.