Originally written on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 11/17/13

Floyd Mayweather often refers to his opponents as “easy work.”  The Clemson offense resembled boxing’s bully as they bruised, battered, and ultimately knocked out Georgia Tech.  Thursday night’s ACC contest appeared to be “easy work” for Tajh Boyd and the Tigers’ passing attack as they bludgeoned the Yellow Jacket defense for four quarters, and, ultimately, won 55-31.   Once again, Clemson football proved that they belong in the BCS conversation. The box score shows that Tajh Boyd completed 20 of 26 passes for 340 yards with 4 touchdowns versus one interception.  Those numbers stand out, no doubt, but let’s take a more in depth look at his statistics to further express Boyd’s outstanding performance.  Note that I include penalties, such as pass interferences, as real attempts, thus the numbers will not match a traditional box score.  Also, I do not account for the number of rushers on screen attempts. Situation Attempts Completions TDs Int. Yards Passer Rating (NFL version) Passes 20 yards 6 5 2 0 202 158.3 Passes vs. 4 rushers or less 11 8 3 0 206 154.3 Passes vs. 5+ rushers (blitz) 8 5 0 1 73 52.6 Screens 7 7 1 0 68 146.7   As you can see, Boyd found great success over the top versus Georgia Tech’s overmatched secondary.  On passes over 20 yards, Boyd had a perfect rating of 158.3.  The lone area of alarm was Boyd’s inefficiency versus the blitz.  You cannot put all the blame on the quarterback because the pass protection failed on a number of occasions (see below).  Moreover, Boyd’s numbers would have been higher had I included screens versus the blitz. For example, in the third quarter, following a critical defensive stand on fourth down, offensive coordinator Chad Morris called for a tunnel screen to Sammy Watkins on the first play.  Clemson caught Tech blitzing and Watkins turned the simple play into a 44 yard touchdown to put the Tigers up 41-17.  While we are discussing this play, I want to give kudos to LG Kalon Davis for successfully cut blocking a safety 8 yards down the field.  Not bad for a 340 pounder!  Without the downfield blocks of Davis and center Ryan Norton, Watkins probably does not score. While Boyd put on a show, the game’s most valuable player was Martavis Bryant.  Georgia Tech had no one to match up with Clemson’s “number two” receiver.  With elite height (6’5”) and speed, Bryant is especially dangerous on vertical pass routes. When Boyd has time to throw, you can rest assured that Bryant will be able to get open deep.  Take a look at Bryant’s 76 yard touchdown at the 5:44 mark of the second quarter.  Clemson chooses to max-protect and only send two receivers on routes down the field.  Even though Tech drops seven into coverage, Bryant still manages to get deeper than the deepest.  Boyd hits him in stride and Bryant races to the end zone, giving Clemson a 27-7 lead. This game proved how dynamic the tandem of Bryant and Watkins can be when both play up to their potential.  Note that I count penalties as real targets and receptions.  Thus, Bryant gets an extra catch and 15 yards added to his total for drawing a pass interference penalty.  The interception column means a pass was intercepted while the receiver was targeted. Player Targets Receptions Yards Drops TDs Int. QB Rating when targeted Martavis Bryant 7 6 191 0 1 0 158.3 Sammy Watkins 7 5 104 0 2 0 153.2 Sam Cooper 1 1 6 0 0 0 91.66 Mike Williams 5 3 45 0 1 0 129.1 Roderick McDowell 3 3 11 0 0 0 81.94 Adam Humphries 3 3 20 0 0 0 94.4 Stanton Seckinger 2 2 13 0 0 0 93.75 D.J. Howard 1 1 8 0 0 0 100 Germone Hopper 1 0 0 0 0 0 39.58   When Boyd received time to throw, the Tigers’ offense was formidable; however, the clear blemish for Clemson was the pass protection.  In all, the Tigers allowed 4 sacks and had no answer for Georgia Tech’s Jeremiah Attaochu (2 sacks).  Attaochu usually lined up at left end, but Tech defensive coordinator Ted Roof was creative in how he deployed his best weapon.  The end slanted, stunted, and aligned in a two-point stance at various times to get a better match-up.  Even All-ACC caliber LT Brandon Thomas could not handle Attaochu on the rare occasion that they squared-off. Here is how Clemson’s linemen, backs, and tight ends performed in pass protection.  Note that I do not include screens as drop backs.  The Success percentage is simply the percentage in which the player did not allow a pressure, sack, or get called for a penalty. Player Pressures Sacks Drop backs Penalties Success Percentage Brandon Thomas 1 0 27 0 96.4% David Beasley 0 1 25 1 92.0% Ryan Norton 1 0 27 0 96.4% Tyler Shatley 0 1 28 1 92.9% Isiah Battle 1 0 16 0 93.8% Gifford Timothy 0 1 2 0 50% Stanton Seckinger 2 0 6 0 66.7% Roderick McDowell 2 0 13 0 84.6% Darrell Smith 0 0 2 0 100% Sam Cooper 0 0 6 0 100% Shaq Anthony 1 0 13 1 84.6% Kalon Davis 0 0 5 0 100% Jay Guillermo 0 0 2 0 100%   Among the starters, Thomas and Norton turned in superlative performances, while Beasley and Shatley were solid as well.  Right Tackle, however, causes some concern.  The Tigers used three players at the position (Timothy, Battle, and Anthony) and they combined to grade out at a measly 87.1%. Although the individual numbers look pretty good for the starters, there were a couple notable miscommunications, which are concerning.  For instance, I did not credit anyone with allowing the fourth sack when GT cornerback Jemea Thomas was unblocked.  Roof called a number of boundary corner blitzes and the Tigers should have been well versed on how to protect against it.  McDowell ran right by Thomas to run a pass route so it may have been his responsibility. The last thing I will highlight is the effectiveness of the ball carriers.  Certainly, no one played outstanding in this regard; however, when you average 12.8 yards per pass attempt, the running game becomes less important.  I did not count sacks against the running statistics of Boyd and Cole Stoudt. Player Attempts Yards TDs Tackles Broken Yards after Contact Fumbles Roderick McDowell 11 60 1 0 4 0 Tajh Boyd 12 65 1 1 2 0 Sammy Watkins 1 0 0 0 0 0 D.J. Howard 3 13 0 0 3 0 Cole Stoudt 3 29 1 0 4 0 Chad Kelly 3 8 0 0 4 0   Again, no one really impressed. McDowell was solid as he took advantage of some wide holes created by the line and averaged 5.5 yards per carry.  The one run I do want to point out is the 13 yard touchdown from Stoudt.  The backup quarterback is not known for his ability to run, but he looked solid on that carry.  He’s no Boyd, but defenses will have to account for him in the zone read game. Look for similar analysis after each game and over time we will be able to see who consistently performs well or poorly, and which games prove to be aberrations.

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