Thursday, August 28, 2014

Clempson preview - turning over a new leaf

One of the things I meant to but never got around to doing this offseason was spending some more time looking at how (the lack of) turnovers affected the wins and the losses last season. Put plainly, the inability to create turnovers played a key role in Willie Martinez's departure after the 2009 season, and Grantham's ineffectiveness in 2013.

If you want to be able to tell if a defense is sound fundamentally, is playing with confidence, and is playing with aggressiveness, all you have to do is look at the number of fumbles covered up and the number of passes picked. If a defense is tackling well, fumbles are going to happen. If a defensive back is in position to make a play, interceptions will undoubtedly follow.

As Tyler mentioned earlier this week, predicting how Pruitt's first defense in Athens will fare on Saturday against Chad Morris' revamped offense is a hard proposition. A quick look at the numbers shows Clemson giving the ball away about twice per game (mostly due to the fact that they handed South Carolina the ball 6 times) and FSU taking it away about three times a game last season.

Can Pruitt's first Bulldog defense, in their first game, come close to duplicating his unit's effort in Death Valley last season, gaining two fumbles against the Tigers and two interceptions as well?
 He gone? 

What weighs in our favor?
  • Quarterbacks. On one hand, both squads have new signal callers. On the other, Georgia's is about to make his third start whereas Cole Stoudt will be making his first in a hostile environment on national television. Add in the fact that they will also throw a freshman in the mix at some point (probably) and it's something that Richt and his staff should be able to take advantage of.
  • Offensive line. Both teams have question marks here. I'm glad ours gets to start this season at home.
What weighs in their favor?
  • Vic Beasley. You've been hearing his name a lot this week for good reason. The Tiger defensive end is coming off a season where he had 13 sacks, four forced fumbles and 23 tackles for loss. He makes his living in the opponents' backfield. He proved as much in the last matchup.
  • Luck. Because she hates our ass.
Starting off the season by protecting the ball on offense and getting greedy with the ball on defense would be a great way to start the season. Am I right?