Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Guest Blogger: Tiger Illustrated

Now that we are playing a team that actually has bloggers, I can break out the guest blogger posts! Answering my questions will be Larry from Tiger Illustrated. Like BC, Clemson is still trying to figure out what they have. Although they have great talent in certain areas, they also have a young QB and a newish Head Coach. Here are my questions and Larry's answers. Go to Tiger Illustrated for more on Clemson.

1. Obviously you can't read too much into the defensive performance against Georgia Tech because of the Jackets' unique scheme. What has your new DC Kevin Steele implemented and how different will the scheme and attack be from the Koenning defenses?

Tiger Illustrated:
I think it will be a good bit different because Steele is more aggressive, whereas Koenning preferred to be more conservative while using zone coverage that generally kept the Tigers from getting beat by the big play. Boston College's game-winning touchdown pass against Clemson in 2007 was one of the few times under Koenning that the Tigers surrendered a lengthy, back-breaking touchdown pass near the end of a game.

Dabo Swinney wants to be more aggressive, and he made that clear late last season by forcing Koenning to play more man coverage while sending guys to pressure the quarterback. Steele appears a perfect fit for Swinney because he has that aggressive mindset. He's not going to blitz every down, but he will bring the heat a good bit -- and from all kinds of angles and fronts. The Tigers have two proven veteran cornerbacks in Chris Chancellor and Crezdon Butler, so it makes sense to let them cover guys one-on-one. But like any coordinator, Steele will be perfectly content to drop seven if his talented, deep defensive line is inflicting havoc on its own.

2. The Tigers obviously have big play capability but struggled at other times. Is it really as simple as getting to Parker before he can get it Spiller or Ford?

Tiger Illustrated:
In some ways it is that simple. Georgia Tech DE Derrick Morgan was a terror in the first half last week in Atlanta, and that really disrupted both the running game and the passing game. Clemson had just 146 yards of offense at halftime, and 63 of those yards came on one play (Parker to Spiller on a wheel route).

Clemson made a nice adjustment at halftime, putting left tackle Chris Hairston at right tackle to match up against Morgan. That gave Parker enough time to hit for some big plays.

Clemson's biggest problem last year was its offensive line, and that remains the case now. The difference this year is Parker has better pocket presence than Cullen Harper. Parker is mobile and crafty on the run, whereas Harper seemed to have a poor feel for pressure (or lack thereof).

3. I still don't understand the hiring of Swinney and think that Clemson could have and should have hired a more established coach. What is your take on the guy now that he has been in this spot for a while?

Tiger Illustrated:
Hiring Swinney was a gamble because he's 39 and he's never been a coordinator (let alone a head coach). You have to think there will be some issues with learning on the job. In fact, there probably were some instances of that in the Georgia Tech game.

That said, Swinney really has a good feel for what Clemson fans want in a coach. He's the antithesis of Tommy Bowden, who was a nice guy but wasn't particularly warm or lovable. Swinney has reached out to the fans, and he's further endeared himself to them by trying to get this program back to its roots of being tough and hard-nosed.

The good thing for Swinney is that he's not taking over a program in shambles. This bunch is not far away from an ACC title, and he'll be a savior if he gives the school its first conference crown since 1991.

Heck, he'd probably be considered a success this year if he merely won his division.

But getting back to your question, I think it's fair to question why they didn't go with a more established coach. Clemson athletics director Terry Don Phillips will either end up looking like a genius for making this hire, or he'll end up looking for work elsewhere.

4. What is your prediction for the game?

Tiger Illustrated:
I think Boston College could give Clemson some problems up front. That was really the story when the Eagles took three straight from the Tigers in 2005, 2006 and 2007. Clemson simply got pushed around up front on defense and wasn't able to run the ball consistently on offense.

Last year, I think you really saw Clemson's speed advantage as the Tigers hit for a bunch of big plays while limiting Boston College to less than 250 yards.

The Eagles could keep this game close if they control things up front, but Clemson's speed on defense should give those freshman quarterbacks some real problems. And I think Spiller could have another big day going against those green linebackers.

Clemson 24, Boston College 13


Erik said...

ATL - These guest blogger features are great. They really give us information and opinions that we're not gonna see on ESPN College Gameday or in the Boston papers.

blockparty said...

erik, definitely agree with you.

thanks for your reasonable opinions larry!

Lally said...

I forgot about these! Always like this feature.

Question: why do Clemson fans think the speed of two guys makes them a better team? Frankly, remove the track stars from each team (essentially Spiller, Ford and Jeff Smith), and you have two teams that are both comparably athletic. Yes, Spiller and Ford are both threats if they get open space (and we saw this with Spiller last year), but if we win the battle on the line, then they're not going to have too many opportunities to burn us.

Interested to see what our offense does against a real defense.

Big Jack Krack said...

Thanks Atl and Larry - frankly, if we hold Clemson to 24 points, I think we have a good chance to win.

BC has some "weapons" as well :-)

Erik said...

We need Bowman to crush Ford once or twice in the first half to get him nervous.

BCMike said...

Ah, the infamous "speed" reasoning.

Shame Clemson didn't have any speed in 2005, 2006, or 2007. Guess we lucked out in those years.

AguilaFan said...

ATL, like Erik, great stuff and not the fluff from ESPN.
It is posts like this that keeps me here.
Chould be the EIA logo:
"Great fluff."

SoCal Rick said...

The speed argument between teams from the north and the south is one that comes up often, but to my knowledge (correct me if I'm wrong) there's no statistical evidence to support that southern college teams outperform northern teams because of team speed.

On a totally separate note on last night's (9/15) Real Sport with Bryant Gumbel there was a featured story about the waning of newspapers with a discussion about how specialized sports blogs like one are filling the gap left between evaporating newspaper local sports coverage and national sports news sources.

totheights said...

SPEED!!! Clemson by 40 because of SPEED!

Its laughable. Clemson is a good team and a tough opponent. But they won't be winning this game because they are "faster" than BC.

mod34b said...

I love the Clemson guys..the one's that have come to Chestnut Hill are always perfect gentlemen (or ladies), but also seem to perfectly embody southern chauvinism. Larry, our guest blogger, seems to be another such fine southern gentleman.

Like our ND 'friends,' the Tiger faithful drink lots of the Clemson Athletic Dept's Kool-Aid, and really are totally over confident. (remember last year, when they actually thought they were a player on the national championship scene and Harper was a legit Heisman hopeful, until they got crushed by Alabama in the first game -- what a joke!)

Much like Charlie Brown when Lucy pulls the football and Charlie lands on his back, the Clemson faithful are always so very surpised (blind-sided)when the high expectations for the season are usually fully dashed before Ocotber 1.

It is a fun rivalry, though, because it is just so much fun to see how distraught the Clemson fans are too lose to this bunch of Northern chumps (BC). And if they lose, it is NEVER because BC has a better team, it always some other reason..yuk yuk. And if they win, they are as insuferably cocky as a the worst sports fans..

Clemson -- The ND of the South! Bring it on! Hey wait a minute, maybe Charlie Weis can become the marquee coach Clemson deserves! I would luv it!

CT said...

I'm not aware of any statistical evidence about the regional differences in speed.

But if you don't think the SEC is faster than the Big 10, for example, you. are. nuts.

Having said that, most teams we play will be faster than us. Always has been (even Flutie has said as much) and, who knows? Maybe always will be...I remember the Hall of Fame Bowl in '92 vs. Tennessee and speed WAS the deciding factor, as was Colorado's against us in the Sun Bowl or whatever that bowl was before went on the winning streak.

To laugh it off is a mistake. To think it's the be all, end all, is likewise foolhardly. BC has proven as much.

CT said...

Are BC fans exempt from being insufferably cocky when we win and completely distraught when we lose?

Didn't we just get mentioned as having the most likely student body to throw things at conference opponents during a game?

I'm pretty sure most people are fairly similar in their attitudes towards their favorite sports teams.

Unless, of course, all of you are like me: a perfect gentleman when we win quite expectedly and a humbled and contrite gentleman when the refs prevent us from winning.

Big Jack Krack said...

CT and all - I'll keep you posted on my experience this Saturday - so far all of my interactions with Clemson fans have been very good and may the best team win (or you earned it, etc.) I can't say that for some other teams - and I dislike it when unfavorable observations are made about our fans. Hopefully we can keep them to a minimum.

Having said that - I'm going to be walking through the seas of orange with my maroon shirt and hat Saturday morning - talkin' the talk :-). It's always enjoyable to interact with Clemson fans pretty much knowing that they won't be throwing anything at you but invitations to join their tailgate.

So far, this is my favorite road game. I've been to UNC, NC State, Miami, Georgia Tech (pretty good) and Wake - and Maryland this year. I'll catch the others in future years.

You also have to understand that I live in SC, and several of my weekly golf buddies are Orange through and through - so we can get into it anytime. :-) Almost won our club's (awarded 2nd in a card-off) "School Pride" Championship - with a team of 3 Clemson and 1 BC player. :-) And we still get into it. That's the way it should be - good natured. Of course we're older, but so what, really.

Big Jack Krack said...

Mod34b - there is no question that Clemson fans think they should win the conference championship every year.

And deep down, they know they are going to get punched in the mouth, so to speak, for 60 minutes when they play us. Even when they think they will beat us (probably always) they know and readily admit that they are in for a tough one!

Erik said...

A little off topic, but "punched in the mouth" got me all nostalgic about our first year in ACC basketball when we physically beat the hell out of every ACC team after 25 years playing Big East Ball. Whether we won or lost, Smith and Dudley pushed people around like crazy (legally of course, just hustle). Good times -- great season.

Big Jack Krack said...

Erik - I had the pleasure of attending our first ACC game in Chapel Hill at the Dean Dome - 12 rows up at mid-court, 22,000 fans.

They were shocked how BC controlled the middle and created space. That's right - we pushed them around pretty good in the victory!!!

Danny said...

Great Blog, I'm a Clemson guy y'all.
Couple of things. Larry Williams is not as much of a homer as you would make him out to be.

Speed kills but not if you can't block anyone. You guys always have the big nasties up front. I have often envied that in your program.

As far as the orange koolaid...the most optimistic thngs i'm hearing is that we can compete with the rest of our schedule.

I watched the KS game and you guys had your way with the play action...actually it was a thing of beauty.

I'm ready for a great game. Please no fake field goals...thank you.

BCMike said...

lol @ the "no fake FG's", Danny!

I think both sides will be very happy if we just get a decent performance from our kickers...let alone risking a fake!

Big Jack Krack said...

Clemson's FG Kicker can (potentially) hit from 60 yards - scary.

Danny said...

BTW, who do you guys think was the best coach you ever had at BC? Just curious. I think you've had some great ones.