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Wide Receivers MIA

Posted by cuorange on October 29, 2009

cuorange_exclusiveLost in the euphoria of the Miami win is that prior to Jacoby Ford snagging a Kyle Parker laser for the 26 yard game-winning touchdown Saturday is the fact that prior to that catch the wide receivers had a grand total of 4 catches for 52 yards.  It doesn’t take a football savant to understand that the Clemson wide receivers have struggled mightily this year.  With the exception of Ford, bad routes, dropped passes and inconsistent play has dominated the first half of the season for the wide outs.
 
Consequently the offense bogged down for a good portion of the first 5 games, before finally breaking through against Wake two weeks ago
 
The Tigers are young an inexperienced at the position as a whole, but there comes a time when you have to hang on to the ball and make plays.
 
The offense scored 26 on Miami last Saturday (plus 7 on defense and 7 on special teams) and moved the ball effectively against Miami.  How?  Passes to the running backs and tight ends.  These two positions combined for 20 of Kyle Parker’s 25 completions Saturday.  They also accounted for 248 of Parker’s 326 yards passing.

Position Catches Thrown to Yards Touchdowns
Running Backs 11 13 138 1
Tight Ends 9 10 110 1
Wide Receivers 5 12 78 1
H Backs 0 1 0 0
Interceptions 1
Totals 25 37 326 3

Moreover, the TEs were thrown to 4 times on third down, with three completions for 39 yards and 3 first downs.
 
Going into the Miami game the tight ends had 19 catches for 199 yards and 2 touchdowns.  Against Miami Michael Palmer and Dwayne Allen combined for 9 catches for 110 yards and a touchdown.
 
Beginning on the third offensive series the Tigers used Palmer and Allen in a stretch of  4 of 7 plays that culminated in a 15 yard touchdown pass from Parker to Palmer.  Two of those receptions were on 3rd and 7 and 3rd and 8 and both resulted in first downs to keep the drive alive.
 
I’ve been beating the drum to get Spiller the ball out of the backfield more often and it appears that Billy Napier finally got around to it against Miami as Spiller hauled in 6 passes for 104 yards including a 56 yard touchdown.
 
The table below shows the effectiveness of receptions by position.  It’s clear that for the number of passes caught the tight ends are the most effective group of the bunch and the wide receivers the least effective. 

Position Catches Thrown to Completion% Yards First Downs First Down % Touchdowns Touchdown %
WR 52  110  47.3   743  28  53.8  4 7.7 
RB 31  47  66.0  329  9 29.0   2 6.5 
TE 28  39  71.8 309   21  75.0  3 10.7 
FB  6  11  54.5  39  2  18.2  0 0.0 
Unknown  –  5 –   –  –  –    
Ints  – 7  –  –  –     
Totals 117 219 53.4 1420  60  51.3  9  7.7

Throws to the tight ends have been completed 71.8% of the time and 75% of those receptions result in a first down.  Throwing to the tight end has been money.
 
Jacoby Ford has 28 of the 52 receptions by the wide receivers.  That means the smorgasbord of Terrance Ashe (9), Marquan Jones (7), Xavier Dye (6), Jaron Brown (1) and Brandon Clear (1) have only 24 catches between them. 
 
It won’t take opposing coaches long to comprehend and game plan for the “new” Clemson offense.  And when that day comes, the real question is can and will the wide receivers get enough separation from the coverage, step up and make plays?  Entering game 8 of the season it’s hard to believe this is still a question mark, but it is.  A huge one at that.

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