Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Keys to the game - protect the ball, and run the ball

This is a simple post. If you're going to impact time of possession in a game with two very good offenses, you best do that by protecting the football and running it, effectively and often.

We all know that if you're going to win you have to avoid turnovers. So let me just throw some stats around (all courtesy of of course) for our own digestion.

Clemson was +2 in turnover margin last season. Georgia was a whopping +11.  Clemson gave it away 21 times and took it back 23. Georgia gave it away just 19 times and took it away 30.

The Tigers' turnovers break down like this: 14 interceptions thrown (all but one of which was Tajh Boyd's) and seven fumbles lost. Of Boyd's 13 interceptions, seven of them were thrown in Death Valley. The outliers were three fumbles against Maryland (finished even in turnover margin in a blowout) and lost two more against LSU in the bowl game (finished -1 in a 25-24 win).

The difference in comparing the two teams' turnover margins is easily put - Georgia's defense created more. I think this year's defense has plenty of playmakers to pressure the ball like they did last season. The question is if they're ready to hit the ground running come Saturday night under the lights. Despite what you may have heard, Clemson was a very balanced offense in 2012: 45 rush attempts per game to 36 pass attempts. They effectively use the pass to open up their running lanes for the tailback and their quarterback. If Grantham can succeed in making them one dimensional then we stand a good chance at forcing some mistakes. the damn ball. When you've got eight healthy offensive linemen available for a rotation and the nation's best running back, that should be the crux of the offensive gameplan. Plain and simple. I keep going back to that Chick-Fil-A bowl that has gained Clemson so much recognition. LSU had a power running game and a stable of capable backs and for some inexplicable reason, steered away from it and finished having only run 48 plays and a miniscule 23 minutes of possession. Perhaps that was another #LesMilesTeamVote...but I digress.

Georgia has the passing game to give Clemson headaches, no doubt. But it's the running game that will aid the defense (and the clock) the most. Using the pass to open up running lanes is awfully cute Clempson. But let's turn this into a grown man's football game. It's an ACC landscape, but it's an SEC world. Go Dawgs!